Making Math Learning Equitable Through Guided Math Instruction

Flanders, NJ


With a large portion of their student population being considered special education, instruction at Mount Olive Township School District in New Jersey is designed to meet the needs of each one of its unique students. A crucial component to that inclusive instructional design, which is having positive impacts across the district, is small-group math instruction, otherwise known as guided math.

“We are aware of our diverse learners, and whole-group instruction just doesn't work for our population,” said Instructional Supervisor, Kristy McFarlane. “Our change to guided math was really to give our students what they deserve, the best education they deserve.”

Guided math provides a way of differentiating instruction that allows students at all learning levels to stay in the general classroom as much as possible and stick with the core curriculum alongside their peers. The district uses Savvas Learning Company’s enVision® Mathematics as that core curriculum, which is the perfect fit for their guided math instruction.

What Is Guided Math?

Many educators may be more familiar with the popular term “guided reading” where teachers use formal and informal assessments to group students into small groups based on their reading level. In those small groups teachers meet students at their instructional level, provide them with targeted instruction, and then follow up with practicing those same skills at independent, partner, small-group centers.


Guided math works similarly in that teachers use assessments to determine students’ instructional levels or understanding of a mathematical topic, and then group them accordingly. Students who need more targeted instruction on a topic will work directly with the teacher while other students will work in centers and or independently when not working directly with a teacher.

Mount Olive Township School District

Unlike guided reading groups where students tend to stay in the same group all year, guided math groupings switch often based on students’ understanding of the mathematical lessons that are introduced day to day and week to week.

“Guided math groups are more fluid,” said Deanne Cornine, the district math coach who originally proposed bringing guided math to the district. “You're giving them what they need, whether it's more manipulatives, whether it's enrichment, whether it's more time with the skill or strategy that they're working on.”

Implementing Guided Math in the Classroom

At Mount Olive, guided math can look a little different from classroom to classroom. Teachers are encouraged to use the method of creating groups that works best for them with their students.

Math teacher Kristen Hare says that, in her classroom, she starts by introducing a lesson using the Solve & Share, feature in enVision that presents a math problem for which students discuss and share solution strategies with each other. Next, they watch a video called the enVision Visual Learning Bridge that visually connects the Solve & Share to the lesson.

Mount Olive Township School District

From there, they practice solving a problem at their desks through guided practice. The students use whiteboards to show their work so Kristen can easily see if they have grasped the lesson or if they need further instruction.

“I do all of my guided practice from the book on whiteboards so that I can easily assess who needs what,” she said. “Then, I break into my groups. So that's how I assess. And then I make my groups from there.”

According to Kristy, the instructional supervisor, some teachers use the letters in M-A-T-H to set up their groups after the Solve & Share and assessment. For example:

  • M = Meet with Teacher
  • A = At Your Seat Work
  • T = Tech Time
  • H = Hands-On Area

When they meet with the teacher, they get their personalized instruction. When they’re at their seat, they are typically working in the enVision Student Workbook practicing what they just learned that day or the previous day. During tech time, they practice their lesson using the games from enVision. And hands-on time is usually a physical game or a group project.

Mount Olive also uses Savvas Learning Company’s SuccessMaker® Math, a supplemental adaptive learning program, for students to work on during their independent time or tech time for either extra practice or enrichment, depending on their needs.

mount olive township school district


Savvas Solutions at Houston County Schools:



Learn more about enVision Mathematics.


“I always tell teachers that there's no right or wrong way to do guided math as long as you're providing small-group, personalized instruction,” said Kristy.

Deanne, district math coach, said that she appreciates the fact that enVision provides a lot of different materials to choose from that they can use in their various groupings and activities. Having ample resources gives the teachers and students a lot of opportunities to find what tools and strategies work best for them.

“We know that our guided math approach is what works for all of our students, but we also know that … enVision helps us within our guided math groups because there's so much available to us,” said Deanne. “Our teachers have just done a really great job with picking and choosing what works for them within their classroom.”

Seeing Growth

At the end of the 2022-23 school year, Mount Olive received their New Jersey Student Learning Assessment (NJSLA) scores and discovered that their students scored above state average in grades 3 through 7. Also, 75 percent of students enrolled in Response to Intervention (RTI) were exited from the program.

“That, to me, speaks volumes,” Deanne said about the district’s state scores. “We're obviously doing something right with enVision and our guided math approach.”

Kristy feels that Mount Olive is on the right path when it comes to math instruction, and she feels positive that the district is providing all of its students with equitable learning opportunities that are set up to help them succeed.

“It really is a magical thing to see … because you just feel like you know that this is someone's child. This is their most important thing in their life, and they're really getting everything that they need,” she said. “It just works.”