QuickSmart: a basic academic skills intervention for middle school students with learning difficulties

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Graham, L, Bellert, A, Thomas, J & Pegg, J 2007, 'QuickSmart: a basic academic skills intervention for middle school students with learning difficulties', Journal of Learning Disabilities, vol. 40, no. 5, pp. 410-9.

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QuickSmart is a basic academic skills intervention designed for persistently low-achieving students in the middle years of schooling that aims to improve the automaticity of basic skills to improve higher-order processes, such as problem solving and comprehension, as measured on standardized tests. The QuickSmart instructional program consists of three structured, teacher- or teacher aide—directed, 30-minute, small-group lessons each week for approximately 26 weeks. In this study, 42 middle school students experiencing learning difficulties (LD) completed the QuickSmartreading program, and a further 42 students with LD took part in the QuickSmartmathematics program. To investigate the effects of the intervention, comparisons were made between the reading and mathematics progress of the intervention group and a group of 10 high-achieving and 10 average-achieving peers. The results indicated that although the standardized reading comprehension and mathematics scores ofQuickSmart students remained below those of comparison students, they improved significantly from pretest to posttest. In contrast, the standardized scores of comparison students were not significantly different from pretest to posttest. On measures of response speed and accuracy gathered using the Cognitive Aptitude Assessment System (CAAS), QuickSmart students were able to narrow the gap between their performance and that of their high- and average-achieving peers. Implications are drawn regarding the importance of interventions that emphasize the automaticity of basic academic skills for students with learning difficulties.