Looking through a strictly math-focused window, the process of ensuring that students stay on the path of needed understanding and achievement is paramount. Nearly every function of mathematics is a building block for more-advanced processes and concepts -- i.e. if a kid falls behind on his/her multiplication concepts, he/she will most likely be short sided on long division too, etc.
These knowledge setbacks can begin to snowball (for a ton of reasons in, and out of, your control), and before we know it, the student has fallen full grade-levels behind. As you and I know, the process of helping students "catch back up" can be extremely difficult, especially with limited time/resources and large class sizes.
But, let's not get all caught up in this bleak stuff. It's time for the good news!
Response to Intervention (RTI) models are designed to help you and your fellow staff provide early and precise assistance and reinforcement to the students who need it most. The idea is to help students get back on that first step towards mathematics progress, being proactive and positive to avoid a "snowball effect".
RTI in the CCSS Math Classroom
Because so many of our nation's educators are making the transition towards the Common Core, let's begin by taking a look at the positive benefits found between a connection of the new math standards and a solid RTI model.
First, take a quick look at the "Mathematics" and "English Language Arts" standards of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). In comparison, the math standards seem to be far more specific than the language arts standards in terms of what skills students should master and when. Because of this focus on the "how" and "when", a RTI model within a CCSS-aligned curriculum can be very valuable.
A systematic approach that works
A quick baseline assessment (aligned with the standards and goals of your curriculum) can give you a very good indication to whether a student is struggling and by how much. Following the baseline, utilizing formative math assessments and other prescribed assessment/performance goals to help dictate where in the RTI tier system each student falls will help you ensure that your students stay ahead of "falling behind".
The US Department of Education's RTI practice guide notes that the prescribed interventions must be systematic and succinct to be effective. By taking a systematic, prescribed approach, you and your fellow staff members can focus limited resources on students who truly need intervention in order to succeed.
- Keep in mind, in terms of the CCSS math standards, the specific and targeted reinforcement should be aligned with the needed levels prescribed by the standards and standards of mathematical practice.
Extending on this idea, your RTI model must be data-driven. Doing so limits the ambiguity found when "moving" a student from one status, or tier, to another become necessary. To see a great example of how these decisions are made, check out this article from the RTI Action Network.
Taking advantage of an LMS within your RTI model
Recent advances in educational technology have made it easier than ever to track a student’s progress and achievement through a set math curriculum, especially if your curriculum is aligned with the highly-structured Common Core standards. With this in mind, effective student placement within your RTI model is made even easier using a full-service curriculum and Learning Management System (LMS) solution.
Via a comprehensive combination of online/offline learning resources and a well-structured LMS system, you afford yourself the opportunity to have both real-time view of a student's status within the model and the ability to prescribe immediate reinforcement at the click of the button.
In this setting, students work through the prescribed curriculum, filling any background knowledge gaps they may have along the way, while teachers and parents receive the data they need to make informed decisions about which RTI interventions are appropriate and where reinforcement may be necessary. It’s targeted instruction on both the front and back ends.
Share your RTI math success stories!
Have you seen some great gains in math progress via your RTI model? What are some of the strategies you use to ensure students receive needed intervention and reinforcement?