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The complete question

Responding to intervention has been prioritized in my district. How do I convince teachers that technology is an appropriate intervention tool?

Expert answer

Response to Intervention (RTI) is a multi-tiered approach to identifying and supporting struggling students. In this approach, all students receive the same high quality instruction and assessments. Students who do not respond to this instruction (as revealed by frequent in-class assessments) will then receive more targeted and intensive instruction. Students who continue to struggle will receive further interventions, possibly in the form of direct one-on-one instruction.

For some students these tiered interventions may be enough to accelerate their learning and help them catch up with their peers. For others, their lack of response to the intervention may signal a need for an evaluation for special education services. Because data on each student is collected at every stage, much of this data can then be used to help determine the presence of a specific learning disability.

Technology can play a key role in the response to intervention process, both as a means of assessment, and as a means of intervention. It might be helpful to check out the CITEd webinar on the Role of Technology in Response to Intervention (opens in a new window). There are two national centers providing technical assistance to schools and districts, see the National Center on Response to Intervention (opens in a new window) and the RTI Action Network (opens in a new window).

A critical part of response to intervention is ongoing student assessment and progress monitoring, often through the use of curriculum-based measurement. This data can help teachers make decisions about student learning and identify areas of difficulty right away. A variety of progress monitoring tools are software based, allowing teachers to quickly assess individual students and keep track of student data.

The relative ease of using technology to track, monitor and graph student assessment data may be an enticing benefit for teachers. It allows them to quickly determine student achievement and level without having to deal with data collection and recording themselves, leaving them more time to focus on teaching. The National Center on Student Progress Monitoring has a helpful chart (opens in a new window) of tools and the content areas they cover.

Technology tools can also be used as a part of the intervention process with individual students. Students who are identified as needing extra help may benefit from the use of skill-building technology tools. The use of these tools can help teachers differentiate instruction, which can be especially helpful when students require extra help in a particular area.

CITEd has an online module (opens in a new window) on differentiating instruction using technology that may be helpful; they also include a discussion forum and a number of helpful resources. The CITEd webinar (opens in a new window) on the same topic may also help teachers see how technology can assist in the teaching of different students at different levels. Each of these resources provides practical advice on using technology in the classroom to address the diverse needs of students.

Once teachers are comfortable that technology is an appropriate intervention tool, you can direct them (or technology coordinators for your school) to the Tech Matrix (opens in a new window) to find tools that match specific student needs. Because evidence-based instruction is a critical component of RTI, be sure to check out the research support articles listed with each tool.

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