RTI and Math Recovery®: How They Can Go Hand-in-Hand

Dee Swanson, Mike Busch, Petey MacCarty and Bob Wright

Response to Intervention (RTI) is an individual, comprehensive, student-centered assessment and intervention process for systematically monitoring student progress and making decisions about the need for instructional modification or increasingly intensified services using progress monitoring data.

As a result of the 2004 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (see http://idea.ed.gov/), schools are required by law to provide research-based intervention for students who have academic or behavior concerns to ensure that the best first instruction and appropriate interventions are taking place, prior to a child being referred for testing for special education placement.

The previous model for qualifying students was the discrepancy model, which has resulted in far too many students not receiving the services they need early enough to be successful. According to IDEA regulations (2004), the process of referral “must not require the use of a severe discrepancy between intellectual ability and achievement for determining whether a child has a specific learning disability [and] must permit the use of a process based on the child’s response to scientific, research-based intervention.”

There are many benefits to moving toward the RTI model for students and teachers. The model provides effective early intervention, which can be monitored and mapped for helpful instructional strategies. Teachers can apply current research, share the responsibilities among a group of interested school personnel, and increase accountability for student learning. It can also provide an in-depth approach to parent communication.

Essential components of the RTI model are high quality, research-based instruction with integrity of implementation, universal screening in accordance with a timeline, multiple tiers of instruction, a collaborative approach, and parent involvement. The key to this model, however, is the professional development. Teachers need to receive research-based professional development and support in order to learn and effectively apply RTI.

So, how do Math Recovery® (MR) Intervention, Add+VantageMR® (AVMR) and SNAP fit within RTI?

These Math Recovery® programs meet many of the needs in the components of an RTI model. The programs provide research-based professional development, and an assessment which drives and intensifies meaningful instruction. Teachers who have undertaken Add+VantageMR® (AVMR) or SNAP professional development are better equipped to provide effective Tier 1 and Tier 2 instruction; and teachers who have undertaken Math Recovery® Intervention Specialist professional development are very well equipped to provide Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 instruction.

Through the AVMR assessments, we have a strong tool that can help teachers identify children who continue to struggle, even with high quality classroom instruction. If the child is in kindergarten or first grade, the teacher may refer him or her to the MR Intervention Specialist at their school. The diagnostic assessments and instructional responses available from Math Recovery® programs are particularly useful for these students.

The MR Intervention Specialist can monitor the progress of a kindergarten student and in the following year, the student may be comprehensively assessed using the MR diagnostic assessments and selected for small group intervention using Math Recovery® instructional strategies -- a Tier 2 intervention, or for a more intensive, individualized Math Recovery® program – a Tier 3 intervention. This will increase the intensity of instruction and has a strong potential for keeping the child from entering a special education program.

For students who are older, small group interventions may be appropriate if they are not successful in the classroom setting. These students deserve to receive instruction from the most qualified math specialists in the building.

Generally speaking, this is the MR Intervention Specialist or Advanced MR Intervention Specialist who has had in-depth training related to topics such as place value, and multiplication and division.

Far too often, struggling students receive interventions from teaching assistants who do not have the necessary training to adequately support these struggling learners. Therefore, MR Intervention, AVMR and SNAP can be great resources in the arsenal of teachers looking to differentiate math instruction and provide strong instructional strategies for all learners.

With MR Intervention, AVMR and SNAP, our goal is to develop informal assessments with teachers, in conjunction with the formal assessment being used. These informal assessments are important because they are aimed specifically at the current focus of instruction.

Further Reading:

Dorn, L. & Schubert, B. (2008). A comprehensive intervention model for preventing reading failure: A response to intervention model. Journal of Reading Recovery, Spring, 29-41.