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Number Rockets

Blueprints Program Rating: Promising

A small group tutoring mathematics competency program for at-risk first grade students that includes computation, concepts, applications, and word problems.

Program Outcomes

  • Academic Performance

Program Type

  • Academic Services
  • Mentoring - Tutoring
  • School - Individual Strategies

Program Setting

  • School

Continuum of Intervention

  • Selective Prevention (Elevated Risk)


  • Late Childhood (5-11) - K/Elementary


  • Male and Female


  • All Race/Ethnicity


  • Blueprints: Promising

Program Information Contact

Vanderbilt University
Attn: Lynn Davies / NUMBER ROCKETS
PMB #228
110 Magnolia Circle, Suite MRL 418
Nashville, TN 37203-5721
Phone: (615) 343-4782

Program Developer/Owner

  • Lynn S. Fuchs
  • Vanderbilt University

Brief Description of the Program

Number Rockets is a tutoring intervention for first-grade students identified as at risk for mathematics difficulty. The program is based on the concrete-representational-abstract model, which relies on concrete objects to promote conceptual learning. Tutors deliver the program to small groups of 2-3 students three times per week during the school day in 40-minute sessions, with 30 minutes of scripted mathematics instruction and activities, followed by 10 minutes of practice to build fluency. The 63 program lessons cover 17 topics, and topics include worksheets and manipulatives (e.g., Base-10 blocks for place value instruction). Behavior is monitored, and students earn rewards for demonstrating on-task behavior.

See: Full Description


Results of Number Rockets efficacy study 1 (Fuchs et al., 2005) showed:

  • Significant improvement in mathematics performance for at-risk (AR) tutored students when compared to AR non-tutored controls in computation, calculation, concepts/applications, and story problems
  • Significantly higher improvement in calculation and concepts/applications for AR tutored students than students identified as not at risk for mathematics difficulty
  • A 40% reduction in prevalence of math disability by the end of first grade for AR tutored students as compared to AR non-tutored students

Results of Number Rockets efficacy study 2 (Fuchs et al., 2013) showed:

  • Significant improvement in mathematics performance for at-risk (AR) tutored students when compared to AR non-tutored controls in simple arithmetic, complex calculations, number knowledge, and word problems
  • A narrowing of the achievement gap in simple arithmetic skills between AR tutored students in the speeded practice condition and low-risk controls
  • Improvement in use of retrieval as a strategy by AR tutored students, relative to AR non-tutored controls
  • Reduction in counting errors for AR students in the speeded practice condition, relative to AR non-tutored controls

Results of the effectiveness study (Rolfhus et al., 2012) show that:

  • Students receiving Number Rockets tutoring scored significantly higher (4.28 points) than control group students in mathematics  proficiency as assessed by the Test of Early Mathematics Ability - Third Edition (TEMA-3)

Race/Ethnicity/Gender Details

Evaluations did not parse out results by gender or race/ethnicity. However, the student populations evaluated were from ethnically diverse backgrounds. Two of the three studies had populations that were largely minority (African American and Hispanic), and the majority of main study's population was White(55%), followed by African American (34%).

Risk and Protective Factors

Risk Factors
  • School: Poor academic performance*
Protective Factors
  • School: Instructional Practice

*Risk/Protective Factor was significantly impacted by the program.

See also: Number Rockets Logic Model (PDF)

Training and Technical Assistance

Tutor training takes place in a one-day workshop at the site (in the district or school). The cost of the training is $1500, plus travel expenses. There is also an additional charge for each tutor attending the training: $64 for implementation manuals and $30 for supplemental materials. 

The tutor training workshop provides detailed program information, an overview of background research and theory, trainer modeling, and tutor practice. Trainees also are provided materials highlighting program information and implementation requirements and guidelines. Following is the training agenda: overview of Number Rockets and Responsiveness to Intervention (RTI); walk-through of manuals, materials, and topic sequence; explanation of topic mastery criteria; use of behavior management and point system; use of fidelity checklists; trainer modeling and tutor practice of four representative lesson topics; availability of technical assistance. Tutors practice entire lessons using program manuals, scripts, and supporting materials. The trainer provides instruction and feedback to tutors on techniques, procedures, and lesson content coverage.

Implementers are encouraged to conduct regular meetings to cover upcoming lesson topics and address questions and challenges. The trainer is available by email and phone for technical support following the workshop. Fees are $50 per hour (pro-rated for less than one hour). On-site technical support may be scheduled and is subject to training workshop fees.

Process Monitoring:

Student progress sheets are provided in Number Rockets Tutoring Manual – Book 2. Fidelity checklists are available at no cost from the program developer and trainer. Instructions for using progress sheets and checklists, and for calculating fidelity scores, are provided during the training workshop.

Following is the workshop agenda.

Number Rockets Tutor Training Workshop Agenda




Registration and Materials


15 min

8:00 – 8:15

Introduction and Warm-up Exercise


15 min

8:15 – 8:30

Number Rockets Program and RTI Overview


45 min

8:30 – 9:15

Walk-Through of Manuals, Materials, Sequence

Explanation of Mastery Criteria


30 min

9:15 – 9:45


15 min

9:45 – 10:00

Use of Behavior Management and Point System


15 min

10:00 – 10:15

Model and Practice Counting In/Up and Flash Cards


45 min

10:15 – 11:00

Model and Practice Session 1: Topic 4, Day 1

                          Flash Card Activity

                          Point System

60 min

11:00 – 12:00


60 min

12:00 – 1:00

Model and Practice Session 2:  Topic 6, Day 1

                          Flash Card Activity

                          Point System


60 min

1:00– 2:00


15 min

2:00 – 2:15

Model and Practice Session 3:  Topic 9, Day 1

                          Flash Card Activity

                          Point System

60 min

2:15 – 3:15

Model and Practice Session 4:  Topic 15, Day 1

                          Flash Card Activity

                          Point System

60 min

3:15 – 4:15

Availability of Technical Assistance, Questions, Closure


15 min

4:15 – 4:30


Brief Evaluation Methodology

All evaluation studies employed a randomized control trial design. Students in participating schools were screened to determine at-risk status. Students identified as at risk (AR) for mathematics difficulty were randomly assigned to tutoring or control conditions. AR students in the efficacy trials were compared to the control group and to students identified as not at risk (NAR) for mathematics difficulty. In the effectiveness study, the AR intervention group was compared to AR controls. Participating students were tested at baseline and again post-intervention. The original study (Fuchs et al., 2005) included 10 schools, Study 2 (Fuchs et al., 2013) included 40 schools across four cohorts, and Study 3 (Rolfus et al., 2012) included 76 schools in four states. The two efficacy studies included a large number of mathematics measures assessing computation, calculation, concepts, and applications. The primary outcome measure in the effectiveness study (Study 3) was overall math proficiency, as measured by the Test of Early Mathematics Ability (TEMA-3).


Fuchs, L. S., Compton, D. L., Fuchs, D., Paulsen, K., Bryant, J. D., & Hamlett, C. L. (2005). The prevention, identification, and cognitive determinants of math difficulty. Journal of Educational Psychology, 97, 493-513.

Fuchs, L. S., Geary, D. C., Compton, D. L., Fuchs, D., Schatschneider, C., Hamlett, C. L., DeSelms, J., Seethaler, P. M., Wilson, J., Craddock, C. F., Bryant, J. D., Luther, K., & Changas, P. (2013). Effects of first-grade number knowledge tutoring with contrasting forms of practice. Journal of Educational Psychology, 105, 58-77.

Rolfhus, E., Gersten, R., Clarke, B., Decker, L. E., Wilkins, C., & Dimino, J. (2012). An evaluation of Number Rockets: a Tier-2 intervention for grade 1 students at risk for difficulties in mathematics. (NCEE 2012-4007). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Final report.

Gersten, R., Rolfhus, E., Clarke, B., Decker, L. E., Wilkins, C., & Dimino, J. (2015). Intervention for first graders with limited number knowledge: Large-scale replicaton of a randomized controlled trial. American Educational Research Journal, 52(3), 516-546.