Academic journal article Learning Disability Quarterly

Technology, Mathematics PS/RTI, and Students with LD: What Do We Know, What Have We Tried, and What Can We Do to Improve Outcomes Now and in the Future?

Academic journal article Learning Disability Quarterly

Technology, Mathematics PS/RTI, and Students with LD: What Do We Know, What Have We Tried, and What Can We Do to Improve Outcomes Now and in the Future?

Article excerpt

Abstract. Effective integration of technology within mathematics problem solving/response to instruction (PS/RTI) for students with/at risk for identification of learning disabilities (LD) is the focus of this article. The discussion is situated within the current context of mathematics PS/RTI, the literature base relative to technology integration in mathematics for students with LD, and emerging 21st-century technologies. Limitations of the research base are identified, and suggestions for the future are provided. Next, a systematic framework for integration of technology in mathematics PS/RTI is introduced that incorporates consideration of (a) effective mathematics instructional practice within mathematics PS/RTI, and (b) the nature of the mathematics content and student learning barriers and strengths. Ways in which technology can enhance effective mathematics practices for students with LD are suggested, and implications for research, development, and practice are discussed.

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This article examines the use of technology to enhance mathematics outcomes for students with/at risk for identification of learning disabilities (LD) within problem solving/response to instruction (PS/RTI) and suggests how technology can be integrated within mathematics PS/RTI to better meet the needs of these students. We begin with a summary of the current context surrounding PS/RTI, technology, and students with/at risk for identification of disabilities. Next, we briefly summarize research and practice with respect to integration of technology in mathematics instruction for students with LD and accompanying limitations. We then share our ideas regarding the potential that emerging 21st-century technologies hold for improving mathematical outcomes and pinpoint several areas of focus as we move forward with effective integration of technology within mathematics PS/RTI. Finally, we argue for the need for a systematic approach to integration of technology in mathematics PS/RTI and provide a structure for undertaking such an approach.

THE CURRENT CONTEXT

Although responsiveness to instruction (intervention) represents a common set of core components, there are varying perspectives on what constitutes best practice relative to data-based instructional decision making (i.e., standard protocol, problem solving, or hybrid), a major component of PS/RTI. Also, the names used to describe the process differ (responsiveness to instruction, responsiveness to intervention, problem solving/ response to intervention, etc.). For the purpose of this article, we will use problem solving/responsiveness to instruction (PS/RTI) to refer to this process.

In mathematics, a critical instructional component of PS/RTI, outcomes for students with LD are poor. For example, at the elementary and middle school grades, 40% and 42% of students with LD scored at the 0-20 percentile rank in calculations and applied problems, respectively; 44% and 47% scored at the 21-60 percentile rank; and 16% and 11% at the 61-100 percentile rank. What is more, outcomes for students with disabilities, generally including students with LD, worsen from grade 4 to grade 8. For example, at grade 4, 41% of students with disabilities scored below the basic level of mathematics competency. Comparatively, at grade 8, 64% of these students scored below the basic level (National Center for Education Statistics, 2010).

The evidence base on effective mathematics instruction for students with LD within PS/RTI is very limited. In their synthesis of elementary mathematics instruction practices related to tiered instruction, Gersten et al. (2009) identified eight practices for which there was at least some level of evidence regarding effectiveness. The studies reviewed evaluated practices in contexts where PS/RTI was not necessarily being implemented, yet the practices were categorized as being appropriate for different tiered instruction levels. …

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