Researchers agree that a tiered system of intervention is critical to an effective RTI model. The tiered design includes three, increasingly intensive, levels of intervention depending on a student’s needs and ability to successfully respond to a customized learning plan.

Tier 1, Level 1, or Primary Intervention is, in essence, regular instruction delivered in the general education classroom.  Ideally, teachers provide research-based, differentiated instruction based on a student’s particular needs.

Students who lag behind in grade-level skill mastery or have preexisting math deficits are moved to a Tier 2 intervention model.  At this tier, the intensity of both assessment and instruction is greater, with teachers monitoring progress more frequently and adapting individual learning plans as needed.  This adaptation differentiates the instructional experience for each student by acknowledging newly mastered concepts and addressing continued skill gaps. 

Based on this timely collection of data, students may be moved back to Tier 1 general classroom instruction, may remain in Tier 2, or may be moved to Tier 3 for even more intensive intervention.

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of Ascend Math is its ability to empower teachers and administrators with up-to-the-minute data on each student’s progress, allowing for timely decisions about placement. Unlike end-of-the-year state assessments, whose results may not be available to schools until late in the following semester, Ascend Math assessment data can help inform decisions about summer school learning needs and a school’s fall intervention scheduling. 

Individualized Solution

There are perhaps fewer things more discouraging to struggling students than being forced to work through a preset battery of lessons that includes skills they’ve already mastered.

Ascend Math’s adaptive Level Recommendation assessment effectively places students at their correct individual functional level. This allows learners to begin to see success immediately. As students progress through their continuously adapted learning plan, Ascend Math automatically removes objectives in which they demonstrate mastery in the pre assessment, infusing an ever-greater level of individualization. 

Fidelity a Factor

Students who do not respond to Tier 2 Intervention and are therefore moved to Tier 3, are accommodated with an increase in both frequency and duration of interventions. Typically, failure to respond to Tier 3 Intervention results in a referral for Special Education Services. Thus, it is critical that intervention is implemented with absolute fidelity and that this fidelity is clearly supported through documentation, which Ascend Math provides.  Tier 3 Interventions may require significant flexibility on the part of schools to ensure that class scheduling and staff availability can accommodate the increased intensity of the intervention.

Technology-Enabled

Because Ascend Math is fully automated, time-consuming tasks associated with individualizing student learning experiences are taken off the teacher’s plate.  Students can move seamlessly between intervention tiers as needed, and the challenges of managing groups of students needing multiple levels of intensity are minimized.

The student interface incorporates Growth Mindset and motivational features through games, activities and badges in Base Camp.  Student engagement is enhanced by learning activities that include video, interactive explorations and immediate feedback on practice. Continual assessments ensure students remain engaged, set goals and track progress. Automatically generated dashboards help teachers keep parents and administrators abreast of individual and whole class student progress without adding extra hours to their day.

As an online solution, Ascend Math also offers the advantage of “anytime, anywhere” learning. Beyond classroom hours, students can access the program in computer labs, and before or after school from home or any internet-connected location. This provides schools the flexibility to ensure that learners receive the intervention intensity needed to meet progress goals without over-taxing the staff and school schedule. 

Part 2 of this series will look at Universal Screening and Adaptive Instruction.

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