RTI and Math Instruction at Ocean View



Math was the first subject in which Ocean View began to really, really USE our data to guide student interventions. We began by administering common formative assessments each month to identify non-proficient students. Now, every second of intervention is based on the collected data from these assessments. Instructional adjustments are on-going, based on data. The math specialists' schedule changes daily, based on data. Students are assigned to fluid skill specific intervention sessions, based on data. When you provide students with the tiered intervention they need, based on using the data you collect, scores go up for ALL groups and achievement gaps narrow.


This is how our math intervention program works:

  1. The first step is to identify power standards: 1 to 2 each month. The state of Virginia determines the Standards of Learning (SOL) for each subject in each grade. Then Norfolk Public Schools determines which standards will be taught each quarter. Next, at Ocean View, each grade level team meets with the math specialist to determine the Power Standards for math for their grade level. They then work to align these standards with the NPS pacing guide, assigning 1 to 2 power standards to each month of the school year. Then, using previous SOL data, the team determines where to direct their instructional focus — just how much time and emphasis needs to be placed on each standard — both with our strategies and our time.
  2. Tier 1: Math instruction for each month focuses on the monthly power standard(s), along with related supporting standards. This instruction is received by all students.
  3. The last Friday of each month is Math Assessment Day. The power standard(s) for the month is assessed using a common formative assessment we call the Form A Assessment. Cut scores are set at 80% and non-proficient students are identified. Grade level and vertical data teams meet and teachers with high proficiency rates share successful strategies and interventions are planned.
  4. Tier 2: During the following month, all students move on to the next standard. All students must cover all standards by the end of April to ensure that all students are ready for the May tests. However, Tier 2 intervention also takes place with students not proficient in the previous standard. For example, the power standard in Grade 5 in September is place value. In October, the fifth grade moves on to the next power standard, rounding and estimation. All fifth grade students receive instruction in rounding and estimation during regular math time. In addition, students who were not proficient on September's power standard, place value, also receive intervention lessons in place value — during resource time, before school, after school and as a needs group during regular math time. This is done a number of different ways and by classroom teachers, the math specialist, and/or SOL intervention teachers. Plans for intervention strategies come from the grade level data team, the math vertical data team, the math specialist, and at the administrative data conference (monthly grade level data meetings with the principal). At the end of October, all fifth grade students take the Form A rounding and estimation assessment. Those students who had been non proficient on place value and who received intervention on that standard also take the Form B place value reassessment, allowing us to both determine the effectiveness of our intervention plan and identify any students STILL non proficient on the place value standard.
  5. Tier 3: Beginning second semester, using data from Form B assessments and Norfolk Public Schools’ quarterly assessments, the math specialist identifies students still not proficient in each standard and provides yet another round of focused intervention.
  6. Finally, a mock SOL Test is given in March to identify any remaining non-proficient students on any math standard. Students are then assigned to fluid intervention groups, moving in and out as a needed skill is taught.


Students are not assigned to an invention group because they fail a test. They are assigned to a group where a specific skill they have not mastered is being retaught. Once they demonstrate proficiency on that skill, they leave the group. A student can pass Assessment A, but still go to intervention for non-proficiency on a single part of a standard. A student might score non-proficient on an assessment, but not be called for intervention on a day when a skill is being taught that they have mastered. Honor students sit next to low performing students in intervention groups where a skill they both need is being retaught. Students are not assigned to intervention based on anything (subgroup membership, overage, low overall performance) but non-proficiency on a particular skill.

Year-long, generic remediation assignments are out. Short-term, skill-specific interventions are in.

The results of our tiered intervention plan are dramatic. Third grade math student proficiency rates increased from 58% in 2002 to 97% in 2008 with the African-American/Caucasian achievement gap dropping from 15% to 5%. In fifth grade, student proficiency increased from 66% in 2002 to 97% in 2008 with gap rates dropping from 7% to -6% (African-American students scoring better than Caucasian students).

In my next blog, I'll talk about how we applied this same idea of tiered intervention, with a little different twist, to reading instruction with equally impressive results.

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Read what others had to say...

Karin, there are a couple of articles on the US Dept. of Ed web page about our school and what we are doing. Try their newsletter, The Achiever, and. also, the link, "Learn From the Blue Ribbon Schools". Also, you can contact me through my school's web page. I'll be happy to talk to you about our program - where we are, what's working and the challenges we still face.


I am very interested in the use of the RTI framework with mathematics. Where can I find out more regarding your test data and using the framework?


Actually, everything started in 2002 with training in data driven decision making and data teams with Doug Reeves and the Leadership and Learning Center. Next, we learned about creating power standards and common formative assessments with Larry Ainsworth. Then, we just started using all the data we collected and analyzed to identify non-proficient students and provide reteaching (double and triple dosing), giving students multiple chances to demonstrate proficiency. Everything developed from that foundation. Now, we are making our interventions more structured using the RTI model.


It is inspiring to hear about a school that is successfully implementing RTI with math. I feel like much of the information out there is related to reading. Was there any specific research or person that you used to help gain an understanding of how to implement RTI with math?