Response to intervention (RTI) has been championed as an effective way to close the achievement gap and to help struggling students improve. But what is RTI, and how can it be implemented?
RTI is the continuous process of monitoring student progress, and using research-based, high-quality instruction to help struggling students overcome obstacles. In a typical class, students will fall into three tiers:
- 80% of students learn from general classroom instruction (Tier 1)
- 15% of students need further targeted interventions related to specific concepts and skills Tier 2)
- 5% of students need intense intervention in terms of one-on-one instruction (Tier 3)
(Source: Bender & Crane, 2011)
For students in each tier, you have to use different strategies. In 2007, Gerstung and Clarke 2007 found that structured peer assisted learning activities, along with systemic and explicit instruction and formative data furnished both to the teacher and the students, were effective with low-achieving math students. Using visuals was also helpful, particularly for special education students. All students can benefit from these strategies (Witzel 2005), so it’s no surprise the CCSS Standards for Mathematical Practice emphasize the importance of student engagement and the use of visuals.
The hard part usually isn't identifying your struggling tier 2 and tier 3 students. Multiple choice quizzes, tests, and online systems tell you what questions students got right or wrong. What’s hard is figuring out WHY they are struggling, and which concepts and skills they need to learn.
To do that, you need research-based diagnostics that are aligned to the Common Core and track everything students do as they work through problems, which is exactly what the LearnBop diagnostics program does. Our system provides in-depth feedback related to the amount of time the student worked on the steps of the diagnostic, a record of both correct and incorrect responses, concepts students master, and concepts they struggle with along with recommended interventions for students identified as needing interventions. All of these can be very telling in helping identify learning gaps and why students are struggling.
The suggested interventions you are provided include a list of Learn Zillion instructional videos, Illustrative Mathematics example problems, and additional LearnBop diagnostic problems that can be assigned to students. Then it’s up to you to make the right choices in which interventions to use with your students, although any or all of them can be used with the entire class, small groups, or individual students.
Our system provides readily available performance data for all students and the opportunity to offer all students a one-on-one tutoring experience. Both are huge time savers and help for the teacher, but more importantly they provide a manageable way to give all students the opportunity to learn the math they need to know. Cost-effective systems such as ours, that help teachers implement RTI, provide one piece of a possible solution for helping to close the achievement gap, and doing so was one of our major goals when we set out to create LearnBop.
For more information about LearnBop visit http://www.learnbop.net.