RtI for Math - Getting Started

Just the term RtI (Response to Intervention) can sound overwhelming.  When first starting out, it doesn't have to be a go big, or go home approach.  Start small.  Take baby steps and see what works and doesn't work for you.  You can begin implementing RtI for math right inside the confines of your classroom.  My district has a very successful RtI model for reading that we follow, but as for math, we are responsible for providing our own assessments, interventions, and tracking within our own classrooms.  So, how should you get started?  

1.  Gather Data

Where are you in the school year?  If you are at the beginning of the school year, administer a diagnostic test to see what students know and do not know from the previous year.  This will give you an idea of what skills students need to work on to be successful in the current school year curriculum.

You can also use your benchmark assessments to identify trouble spots.  By using the benchmark assessments you can create groups based on skill deficients and rotate students in and out of RtI according to their current need.

2.  Develop a Plan

Once you have administered the assessment you have chosen, begin to develop a plan.  Look for students' strengths and weaknesses.  Determine the skill(s) that the student needs the most help with.  Focus on no more than two at a time.   Next, create small groups of students based on their needs.  

You can download these FREE RtI Planning Forms HERE.  

3.  Provide Interventions

Interventions should happen in small groups, 4-5 times per week, and for a minimum of 20 minutes.  Instruction during interventions should be explicit and systematic.  This time should be used to provide extra practice and a lot of interaction with students.  

Interventions should be practiced under direct teacher guidance so that they receive on-demand corrective feedback.

During guided practice, the teacher should ask students to communicate the strategies they are using to complete each step of the process and provide reasons for their decisions.  In addition, the teacher should ask students to explain their solutions.  Note that not only interventionists, but also fellow students, can and should communicate how they think through solving problems to the interventionist and the rest of the group.  This can facilitate the development of shared language for talking about mathematical problem solving.  (Gersten et al, 2009, p. 23)

Add manipulatives for students to practice during interventions.  Here is a list of virtual manipulatives:





4.  Evaluate Progress

When evaluating progress, you want to think of it similar to giving a pretest, check points along the way, and a post test.  The "pretest" is the initial data that you collected.  This is the baseline for analyzing a student's progress. The "check points", which we call probes, should be a direct replica (referring to the format and type of problems) of the baseline that you took.  This way the data that is collected is reliable and valid.   

The frequency in which you assess students is up to you.  You may choose to give them weekly, bi-weekly, or when you feel that students are ready.  

If the student passed a probe, you may stop interventions.  I like students to be proficient with at least two probes before stopping interventions.  If the student did not pass the probe, interventions should continue.  The process continues until the student is able to successfully perform the task he or she initially struggled with.

If you are considering starting RtI for math in your classroom or even in your district, start small.  Collect your own data on how the process is going, and make changes along the way.  Just like in a classroom, one size does not fit all.  The tweaks you make along the way is what will help to make it successful.

Additional Resources to Get You Started

I have a series of blog posts that give a lot of additional tips!  You can find the RtI for Math Made Easy blog series HERE.  

Printable Resources

3rd Grade 

4th Grade

5th Grade