What is RTI for mathematics?
Page 1: Overview of RTI
Teachers know that if students are to create a foundation for understanding abstract mathematics concepts, it is important that they begin to develop essential skills and concepts at an early age. However, research conducted since the 1970s has shown that, although U.S. students’ mathematics proficiency has improved somewhat, a large number of students continue to struggle with the subject.
Every year, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) administers mathematics achievement tests to 4th-, 8th-, and 12th-grade students in the United States. Student performance indicates the degree to which they have acquired the knowledge and skills expected at their grade level. The results are categorized into one of four levels: Below Basic (little mastery), Basic (partial mastery), Proficient (mastery), and Advanced (beyond mastery). The 2017 results for 4th and 8th grade are illustrated in the table below. The 12th-grade data are from 2015 because the 2017 data are not yet available.
This bar graph illustrates the results of the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) mathematics achievement test for 4th and 8th grades and the 2015 data for 12th grade. The table is divided into three columns—one for 4th-grade results, one for 8th-grade results, and the last for 12th-grade results—and each column is divided into two rows. The top row is labeled “Students Proficient & Advanced,” while the lower is labeled “Students Basic & Below Basic.”
The test results are displayed for three categories of test takers: “All Students,” “Students with Disabilities,” and “ELLs.” The “All Students” bars are colored aqua. The “Students with Disabilities” bars are peach. Finally, the “ELLs” bars are yellow.
In the 4th-grade column, “All Students” are 40% in the Proficient & Advanced range and 60% in the Basic & Below Basic range. “Students with Disabilities” are 17% in Proficient & Advanced and 83% in Basic & Below. Likewise, “ELLs” are 15% in Proficient & Advanced and 85% in Basic & Below.
In the 8th-grade column, “All Students” are 34% in the Proficient & Advanced range and 66% in the Basic & Below Basic range. “Students with Disabilities” are 9% in Proficient & Advanced and 91% in Basic & Below. Finally, “ELLs” are 6% in Proficient & Advanced and 94% in Basic & Below.
In the 12th-grade column, “All Students” are 25% in the Proficient & Advanced range and 75% in the Basic & Below Basic range. “Students with Disabilities” are 3% in Proficient & Advanced and 97% in Basic & Below. Finally, “ELLs” are 6% in Proficient & Advanced and 94% in Basic & Below.
For Your Information
Because student behavior strongly impacts academic performance, it is important to have a system of supports in place to address behavior challenges. Positive behavioral intervention and supports (PBIS) is a framework for providing a multi-tiered system of support that can address such challenges.
The response to intervention (RTI) framework has been used to improve students’ mathematics proficiency. RTI is a type of multi-tiered system of support (MTSS) for delivering support through increasingly intensive levels of instruction that are matched to students’ needs and based on data.
RTI serves two primary purposes:
- To provide early intervening services to students who are struggling. Early intervening is the delivery of services or assistance to struggling students before they fall too far behind their peers. Early intervening services can minimize or prevent the development of substantial academic difficulties by:
- Providing high-quality instruction in the general education classroom
- Implementing evidence-based interventions as soon as students are identified as struggling
- Using classroom data, rather than subjective observations, to make decisions about whether students should be referred for an evaluation for special education services
- Reducing inappropriate referrals and placements in special education
- To help identify students with learning disabilities (LD). The RTI approach is an alternative to the traditional IQ-achievement discrepancy model used during the pre-referral process to help identify students with learning disabilities. Students who do not respond adequately to high-quality instruction provided in the general education classroom or to increasingly intensive levels of intervention might be eligible for special education services. By using RTI to help identify students who might have learning disabilities, school personnel can more quickly provide those students with individualized services and help them to avoid years of frustration and failure.
Did You Know?5%–10% of all students have mathematics learning disabilities. These students have a number of common characteristics.
In the video below, Tessie Rose Bailey, a technical assistance provider for the National Center on Response to Intervention, discusses the differences between pre-referral and RTI (time: 5:16).
Source: National Center on Response to Intervention (rti4success.org)
Many schools implement a RTI framework with three tiers (or levels) of instructional support: core instruction, supplemental intervention, and intensive intervention. Other schools implement more tiers of support to meet the needs of their students. Below is a representation of a RTI framework with three tiers, accompanied by a brief description of each. The percentages of students associated with each tier of support noted in the illustration are typical for most schools. However, some schools—for example, Title I schools—might see higher percentages of students in need of support.
Tiers of Support
Tier 3 (also referred to as tertiary intervention or intensive, individualized intervention) is intensive intervention that is individualized based on data; it is provided with more frequency and in smaller group settings than the Tier 2 intervention.
Tier 2 (also referred to as targeted or secondary intervention) offers supplemental intervention using a standard validated approach or program to students in a small-group setting; it is provided in addition to and aligned with core instruction.
Tier 1 (sometimes referred to as primary instruction) is high-quality core instruction provided in the general education classroom.
The movie below illustrates the number of students in the average classroom who might struggle with mathematics and who might benefit from more instructional support (time: 0:35).
A typical MTSS framework includes supports that address both academic and behavioral challenges. However, this Module focuses on the academic portion of this framework and discusses the provision of increasingly intensive levels of instructional support. The terms associated with this framework differ among experts and practitioners. First, some refer to this process as RTI and others as MTSS. Even federal laws that govern the education of students use different terminology: The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires schools and districts to develop a multi-tiered system of supports to respond to students’ academic and behavioral needs, whereas the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) allows schools to use “a process based on a child’s response to scientific, research-based intervention” as part of the procedure to determine whether a student has a specific learning disability. Second, some experts and practitioners refer to levels of support and others to tiers of support. Additionally, implementation of the framework varies across states and districts. Some schools implement three levels of support (with special education being the third level) while others implement four or more levels (with special education being the most intensive level).
In this Module, we will:
- Define the process of providing more intensive levels of academic instruction as RTI
- Use a framework that consists of three tiers of support
- Refer to the third, most-intensive tier of support as “special education services”