Academic journal article The Behavior Analyst Today

Integrating Frequency-Based Mathematics Instruction with a Multi-Level Assessment System to Enhance Response to Intervention Frameworks

Academic journal article The Behavior Analyst Today

Integrating Frequency-Based Mathematics Instruction with a Multi-Level Assessment System to Enhance Response to Intervention Frameworks

Article excerpt

Responsiveness to Intervention (RtI) refers to a recent innovation in education utilizing a multitiered service delivery model with two overlapping functions: first, to identify students who are struggling in the classroom and remediate academic deficits, and second, to distinguish between students who are behind due to a history of poor instructional experiences and those in need of special education services for remediation of an actual learning disability. (Jenkins, Hudson, & Johnson, 2007). RtI promotes a new focus on teaching and learning, focusing on how responsive students are to instruction. The term as originally coined, "Responsiveness" places the agency or label of special education on the teaching methodologies and measures student responsiveness to those procedures.

RtI was derived from the provisions outlined in the Individuals with Disabilities Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA, 2004), which states that "in determining whether a child has a specific learning disability, a Local Education Agency may use a process that determines if the child responds to scientific, research-based intervention as part of the evaluation process" [Section 614 (b)(6)(B)]. As such, RtI offers an alternative to the traditional practice of diagnosing learning disabilities based on a pronounced dual discrepancy between intellectual capacity (as determined by intelligence tests) and academic proficiency in various subjects (as determined by achievement tests). RtI is not mandated, but IDEA 2004 now prohibits states from requiring this discrepancy model.

In many ways, RtI constitutes a profound paradigm shift in the way that students with educational problems are perceived and taught in the classroom. According to the traditional approach, if a significant dual discrepancy is observed between intelligence test scores and achievement scores, the problem is generally considered to exist within the student. The student is then labeled with a learning disability and committed to the special educational system. If a significant discrepancy is not observed, the student returns to the general education classroom. Due to strict qualification guidelines related to the current provision of special education services, funding to provide additional support to students that are only marginally failing is not generally available. Yet, it's clear that without an effective intervention, the deficits are only likely to increase. For this reason, the dual discrepancy model is often referred to as the "wait-to-fail" model and has come under increasing widespread criticisms as being an ineffective and inadequate framework for special education (Francis et al., 2005). In contrast to the dual discrepancy approach, the RtI framework emphasizes identifying and supportng all students with pronounced academic deficits. This change in perspective of how to provide services has even led to a new term, "the enabled learner" (Tilly, 2006) and is creating a challenge for our school psychologists to move from the use of traditional psychometric tests (i.e. intelligence and achievement tests) to an "edumetric" problem solving model focused on measuring changes in individual performance over time (Canter, 2006). In summary, "RtI is a set of scientifically research-validated practices that are deployed in schools using the scientific method as a decision-making framework" (Tilly, 2006 p. 22).

RtI Framework

When a school-wide approach is adopted, the RtI framework most commonly utilizes what is referred to as the Standard Protocol Model (Shores & Chester, 2009). The model was based on the research in curriculum-based measurement of reading skills conducted by Deno and Mirkin (Deno, 1985, 2003; Deno & Mirkin, 1977). CBM grew out of the need for educators to access more frequent performance data in the academic foundation skills of reading, spelling, writing, and mathematics (Deno, 1985; Shinn 1989). Teachers can use these criterion-referenced assessments to compare student progress to a grade level standard as well as to analyze individual growth compared to previous performance. …

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