Educational support for low-performing students in mathematics: the three-tier support model in Finnish lower secondary schools

Ulrika Ekstam, Karin Linnanmäki, Pirjo Aunio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


In 2011, there was a legislative reform regarding educational support in Finland, with a focus on early identification, differentiation and flexible arrangement of support using a multi-professional approach, the three-tier support model. The main aim of this study was to investigate what educational support practices are used with low-performing lower secondary students. An additional aim was to determine how the change in legislation has affected the work of special education and mathematics teachers with regard to mathematics education for low-performing students. Electronic questionnaires were sent to all principals in Swedish-speaking schools in Finland (55 schools, grades 7-9) to be answered by the special educationand mathematics teachers. Twenty-seven answers were received from the special education teachers and 42 from the mathematics teachers. The results showed that 'pull out of the classroom' was considered the most common way to support the mathematically low-performing students. Teachers were quite satisfied with the efficiency of support and the amount of extra resources for the low-performing students in mathematics. There was almost no change in collaboration or working strategies for either teacher groups due to the change in legislation. The teachers did not experience much change in educational practice after the legislation reform.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)75–92
JournalEuropean Journal of Special Needs Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • SPECIAL education
  • part-time special education
  • educational reform
  • middle school
  • mathematics
  • RtI

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