Teachers' Knowledge and Implementation of Response to Intervention Practices: Graph Literacy and Data-based Decision Making

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Wallace, Kelli
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Middle Tennessee State University
Response to Intervention (RTI) is a general education initiative intended to identify struggling readers and provide them with early, targeted intervention. The RTI model—which emphasized research-based instruction presented with fidelity along with the use of informed student data—was adopted by many school districts not only to provide intervention for struggling students but also as a proactive method for identifying students for special education services. The model held great promise, but RTI in practice has not necessarily been as successful at remediating struggling readers as was anticipated. While quality instruction is important for the success of RTI, some researchers contend the use of student data to make informed intervention decisions is the most important element in the model’s (and students’) success. Teachers and instructional coaches are often tasked with reading, interpreting, and making educational decisions based on student data, which are typically presented in the form of graphs. However, many educators indicate they do not have sufficient training in interpreting student data nor do they know how to use such data to inform instruction. This study surveyed 451 elementary teachers regarding their perceptions of the quality and availability of professional development opportunities related to RTI Tier 2 and Tier 3 reading intervention instruction and measured their ability to interpret student data presented graphically. Findings indicate the more teachers agreed with the statements they have high quality and available PD the poorer they were at reading student graphs and interpreting educational placement. Results suggest more intensive and sustained methods of interpreting and using graphical data to make data-based decisions might be incorporated in professional development (e.g., a task to measure knowledge). Such methods may help to ensure those who are responsible for making educational placement and/or reading intervention decisions have the skills to correctly interpret student data so that students receive the instruction needed to improve their reading proficiency.
Education, Special education