Programs that Work
Team Accelerated Instruction: Math
Children Succeeding in School
Students performing at grade level or meeting state curriculum standards
Age of Child
Middle Childhood (9-12)
Type of Setting
Type of Service
Type of Outcome Addressed
Cognitive Development / School Performance
Evidence Level (What does this mean?)
The Team-Accelerated Instruction: Math program (TAI) incorporates cooperative learning and individualized instruction in math education. TAI allows children to progress on an individual basis, and it teaches cooperation by forming teams of students who can help each other to achieve team goals. TAI combines interactive instruction by teachers with cooperative team learning to accelerate the achievement of all students, maximize teaching and learning time, enhance student motivation and positive attitudes toward math, and improve students' social interactions.
Students in grades 3 through 6, or older students who are not ready for algebra.
Slavin and Karweit (1984) studied TAI in a yearlong randomized controlled experiment involving 588 ninth-grade students in 16 urban schools in Philadelphia. Teachers were randomly assigned to one of four groups: (1) Mastery (involving teaching, individual worksheet-based study, a formative quiz (to assess how student learning is proceeding), corrective instruction, and a summative quiz (to assess knowledge learned at the end of a unit); (2) Teams (involving teaching, worksheet-based study within heterogeneous four-member teams, and a quiz); (3) Teams + Mastery (involving teaching, team study, a formative quiz, corrective instruction within teams, and a summative quiz); and (4) the control group, which used Focused Instruction (involving teaching, individual worksheet-based study, and a quiz). All four groups used the same curriculum materials and schedule of instruction, i.e., only the style of the delivery of instruction differed. An analysis of baseline differences among the four groups at the outset of the study did not indicate any significant differences. From an initial sample of 1,092 students, both pretest and posttest achievement data were available for 588 of those students. Analyses of pretest scores of students who did not complete posttests revealed no significant differences in achievement among the four groups, suggesting that the 504 students who dropped out of the study were evenly distributed among the four groups. Among the sample of students, 76 percent were African-American, 19 percent were white, 6 percent were Hispanic, and 1 percent was Asian. Outcome measures included a shortened version of the Mathematics Computation and Concepts & Applications subscales of the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills (CTBS).
TAI was also assessed in a quasi-experiment of TAI involving 1,371 students in 59 third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade math classes in a suburban Maryland school district (Slavin et al., 1984a); 719 students in 31 classes from five schools were assigned to TAI, and 652 students in 28 classes from three schools were assigned to the control group. Participation in the 24-week TAI program was voluntary, and treatment and control group students were matched on California Achievement Test average pre-test scores. Sixty-three students in the TAI classes and 50 in the control classes were receiving special education services and were designated as being academically handicapped. The outcomes studied were the Mathematics Computation and Concepts & Applications subscales of the CTBS.
Slavin et al. (1984b) conducted two randomized controlled experiments on TAI in a middle-class suburban Maryland school district. The first study involved 504 students in grades 3, 4, and 5 from 18 classes in six schools. Eighty percent of the students in the sample were white, 15 percent were African-American, and 5 percent were Asian. Six percent of the students were receiving special education services for a serious learning problem at least one hour per day, and an additional 17 percent were receiving other education services (such as special reading or speech instruction). The schools were randomly assigned for an eight-week period to one of three groups: 1) the TAI group; 2) an individualized instruction group (in which students worked individually, not in teams); or 3) the control group. Baseline analyses did not indicate any significant differences among the three groups on CTBS test scores. The second study involved 375 students in grades 4, 5, and 6 from 16 classes in four schools (two TAI schools and two control schools) in another suburban Maryland school district. Classes were randomly assigned for a ten-week period to TAI or a control group, and no pretest differences were found between the groups on CTBS scores. Fifty-five percent of the students were 55 white, 43 percent were black, and 2 percent were Asian. Four percent of students were receiving special education services for a serious learning problem at least one hour per day, and an additional 23 percent were receiving other education services. Students were compared on the mathematics computation subtest of the CTBS.
Slavin and Karweit (1985) also conducted two randomized controlled experiments of TAI. The first study was set in Wilmington, Delaware, and involved 345 students in 15 fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-grade classes. Approximately 71 percent of the students were white, 26 percent were African-American, and 3 percent were Asian. Classes and teachers were randomly assigned to one of three 18-week treatment groups: (1) Missouri Mathematics Program (MMP), a whole class, group-paced math program; (2) Ability Grouped Active Teaching (AGAT), an instructional method using within-class ability grouping; or (3) Team Assisted Individualization (TAI), which consisted of heterogeneous self-instructed learning teams. Baseline analyses found no significant differences among groups on CTBS scales. The second study involved 480 students in 22 third-, fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms in Hagerstown, Maryland. Ninety-one percent of the students were white, 7 percent were African-American, and 2 percent were Asian. Classes and teachers were randomly assigned to one of four experimental groups: (1) MMP, (2) AGAT, (3) TAI, or (4) an untreated control group in which teachers used traditional whole-class instructional methods. Pretest analyses showed no statistically significant differences among groups on CTBS Computations, but there were significant differences among the groups on the CTBS Concepts & Applications scale due to high scores in the AGAT classes and low scores in the control classes. Outcomes for the four groups were compared on the Mathematics Computations and Concepts & Applications subscales of the CTBS.
Finally, Karper and Melnick (1993) conducted a randomized controlled experiment of 12 classrooms of third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade students in Derry Township School District in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Derry Township is a small, very affluent district with approximately 2,500 students. For each grade level, two classrooms were taught using TAI, and two classrooms (the control group) were taught using traditional mathematics instruction. The grade 3 sample consisted of 34 TAI and 35 control students; the grade 4 sample included 44 TAI and 44 control students; and the grade 5 sample included 46 TAI and 44 control students. With a few exceptions due to necessary placements for gifted students, students were randomly assigned to each classroom. No pretest differences were found between the TAI and control classes in grades 4 and 5; and no pretest analyses were conducted for grade 3 classes. Outcome measures included student achievement scores from the district’s standardized testing program, including scores on tests for total math aptitude and math concepts, and scores on math computation subtests.
Key Evaluation Findings
Results from Slavin and Karweit (1984) indicated the following:
- The Teams group achieved significantly higher Mathematics Computation and Concepts & Applications scores than the control group or other two treatment groups.
- There were no significant differences found for the Mastery group or the Mastery + Teams group when compared with the control group.
- The district-level analysis showed that the TAI group scored higher than the control group for Mathematics Computations. No significant differences were found between the two groups’ Concepts & Applications scores.
- When analyzed at the individual-student level, TAI students scored higher on the Concepts & Applications scale and the Mathematics Computations scale.
- In the first study, the CTBS results indicated a marginally significant overall positive effect for the TAI and Individualized Instruction groups when compared with the control group. The TAI group scored significantly higher than the control group in Mathematics Computation achievement, but no significant differences were found between the TAI and Individualized Instruction groups.
- In the second study, it was found that TAI students scored significantly higher than control students in Mathematics Computation.
- The overall analysis showed a statistically significant difference among treatment groups in Mathematics Computation, but there were no differences among the groups on the Concepts & Applications scale.
- Treatment group comparisons on Computations showed that the average TAI and AGAT scores were nearly identical, but both average scores were significantly higher than the average score for the MMP group. Both the TAI and AGAT classes exceeded the MMP classes on Computations by slightly more than a full grade equivalent.
- The overall analysis showed marginally significant treatment effects on Computations. As in the first study, the AGAT and TAI students did not differ from one another in Computations scores, but both groups were superior to MMP students. All three treatment groups significantly outperformed the control group in Computations.
- The overall analysis for Concepts & Applications did not reveal any significant differences among treatment groups.
Public and private elementary schools
There are a number of possible funding sources, including:
- Title I Comprehensive School Reform: A major funding opportunity for schools to adopt proven, whole school reform models such as Success for All.
- Title I School Improvement: Grants are awarded to schools that have failed to meet adequate yearly progress goals for two consecutive years. Schools may use the funding to implement scientifically based programs to increase student achievement.
- Title II Improving Teacher Quality: Title II funds are available to every school district. These funds can be used to pay for professional development, including the salary of a Success for All facilitator.
TAI is based on the idea that four modifiable elements of classroom organization must be satisfactory if instruction is to be effective: (a) quality of instruction; (b) appropriate levels of instruction; (c) incentives for students to learn; and (d) time spent learning (Slavin, 1984). The TAI program was designed in an attempt to address these four elements of instruction. In TAI, students work in four- or five-member learning teams on individualized materials. To assure appropriate levels of instruction, students are placed (according to their scores on an initial test) in an individualized instruction sequence and allowed to proceed at their own rates of learning. Students within teams also assist one another with problems and take responsibility for checking each other’s work and for other routine management of class work. This sort of instructional design improves the quality of instruction and maximizes the time that students spend learning by making it possible for teachers to provide direct instruction to small groups of students who are performing at similar levels. Finally, incentives to learn are guaranteed through the use of team recognition, in which students receive weekly awards based on the average performance of their teams.
Issues to Consider
The TAI program received a "promising" rating. Although the results of the program have been mixed, program evaluations indicate that TAI students have experienced some improvements in their math skills when compared with control group students.
Results from Slavin et al. (1984) and Slavin and Karweit (1985) suggest that TAI may be more effective at improving students’ scores in Mathematics Computation than in Concepts & Applications.
It should be noted that one or more of the TAI program developers are authors on four of the six studies cited in this program description.
The TAI program was adapted several years ago to form one component of a more comprehensive mathematics program, MathWings. MathWings is one element of the Roots & Wings whole school reform model, which consists of early learning programs, reading and language arts instruction, tutoring, family support and integrated services, social studies instruction, science instruction, and mathematics instruction. The MathWings program involves both a primary-level program for grades 1 and 2, and an intermediate program (called PowerMath) for grades 3 through 5. TAI has been incorporated into one portion of the PowerMath program. Existing evaluations of MathWings do not meet PPN criteria, so we are unable to determine whether the entire MathWings program is also promising. The results presented in this program description reflect only the TAI component.
Brent Farmer, President
TAI is one component of the MathWings program, which has not been rigorously evaluated. Inquire with the Success for All Foundation to learn more about the MathWings program, at http://www.successforall.com/Curriculum/MathWings.cfm.
Karper, Jane, and Steven A. Melnick, "The Effectiveness of Team Accelerated Instruction on High Achievers in Mathematics,"
Journal of Instructional Psychology,
Vol. 20, No. 1, 1993, pp. 49-54.
Slavin, Robert E., "Component Building: A Strategy for Research-Based Instructional Improvement," Elementary School Journal, Vol. 84, 1984, pp. 255-269.
Slavin, Robert E., and Nancy L. Karweit, "Effects of Whole Class, Ability Grouped, and Individualized Instruction on Mathematics Achievement," American Educational Research Journal, Vol. 22, No. 3, 1985, pp. 351-367.
Slavin, Robert E., and Nancy L. Karweit, "Mastery Learning and Student Teams: A Factorial Experiment in Urban General Mathematics Classes," American Educational Research Journal, Vol. 21, No. 4, 1984, pp. 725-736.
Slavin, Robert E., Marshall B. Leavey, and Nancy A. Madden, "Combining Cooperative Learning and Individualized Instruction: Effects on Student Mathematics Achievement, Attitudes, and Behaviors," The Elementary School Journal, Vol. 84, No. 4, 1984b, pp. 408-422.
Slavin, Robert E., Nancy A. Madden, and Marshall Leavey, "Effects of Team Assisted Individualization on the Mathematics Achievement of Academically Handicapped and Nonhandicapped Students," Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol. 76, No. 5, 1984a, pp. 813-819.