Using Curriculum-Based
Measurement to Measure
‘Response to Intervention’
Jim Wright
Baldwinsville (NY) Central School District
Georgia Association of School Psychologists
2005 Annual Conference
Savannah, GA
20 October 2005
Jim Wright
Any darn mule can
kick a barn down, but it
takes a carpenter to build
--Lyndon Johnson
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Changes to LD Definition in Part 200 (NYS Regs)
Learning disabilities. In determining whether a student has a
learning disability …, the school district:
(i) may use a process that determines if the student
responds to scientific, research-based intervention as
part of the evaluation procedures [Response-toIntervention Model] …;
(ii) is not required to consider whether a student has a
severe discrepancy between achievement and
intellectual ability in oral expression, listening
comprehension, written expression, basic reading skill,
reading comprehension, mathematical calculation or
mathematical reasoning [Discrepancy Model].
Emergency Adoption of Amendment of Section 100.2 and Parts 101, 200 and 201 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of
Education to Conform to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 2004 – Effective September 13, 2005
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Dueling Models: Discrepancy vs.
Response to Intervention
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Discrepancy (‘Wait to Fail’) Model
LD identified by giving a battery of
standardized tests and looking for significant
gaps between students' achievement and
intellectual ability. The tester infers that a
profile of strengths and weaknesses revealed
in cognitive and achievement tests have direct
real-world application to the student’s
classroom performance.
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Inference as a Reasoning Tool
‘The act or process of deriving logical conclusions from
premises known or assumed to be true.’
-The American Heritage Dictionary
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Learning Disabilities: Medical Model
“Traditionally, disability is viewed as a
deficit that resides within the individual, the
severity of which might be influenced, but
not created, by contextual variables.”
(Vaughn & Fuchs, 2003)
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Learning Disabilities: Medical Model
Underlying premise-that LD is a ‘medical’
– LD is explained as a neurological condition that
impacts on learning. Because LD is a physical,
within-child condition, it is unlikely that changes in
classroom instruction will significantly improve
academic performance
– A formal battery of tests can diagnose LD, largely
in isolation from classroom information
– Based on the profile of needs uncovered by testing
results, specific ‘treatments’ can be prescribed to
help the student learn
– These treatments are highly likely to be effective,
making it unnecessary to measure their impact
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Discrepancy Model: Limitations
Some possible limitations to the 'discrepancy model‘:
– is built upon a high-inference assumption (that LD
is best explained as a medical condition)
– requires chronic school failure before special
education supports can be given
– fails to consider that outside factors such as poor
or inconsistent instruction may contribute to a
child's learning delays
Jim Wright
Response-to-Intervention (RTI) Model
LD identified as follows:
– Schools identify children experiencing significant
academic delays,
– match them up with scientific, research-based
– and monitor these students' progress.
A child's failure to respond positively to several
carefully selected, well-implemented interventions
could then be viewed as evidence that the student
has a learning disability and requires special
education services.
Jim Wright
Learning Disabilities: RTI
Underlying premise-that LD is an interaction
between child and instructional environment:
– Student academic deficits can best be gauged by
observing the child engage in tasks from
classroom curriculum and reviewing work products
– Interventions are a quasi-experiment (no
assurance a priori that the intervention will actually
benefit the student)
– Ongoing progress-monitoring is required to
document ‘response to intervention’
– LD is diagnosed when all competing external
explanations for poor student performance (e.g.,
inadequate instruction) are ruled out
Jim Wright
RTI Model: Limitations
Some possible limitations to the ‘Response-ToIntervention Model‘ (Vaughn & Fuchs, 2003):
– Has ‘arbitrary cutpoint’ on a continuum of nonresponding
– Interventions and monitoring procedures have
not been fully validated across grade levels
– Lacks clear guidelines for when ‘enough is
enough’ in intervention efforts
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‘Curriculum Train’
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Instructional Variables: What
Difference Does a Teacher Make?
Statistician Dr. Richard Sanders analyzed
longitudinal data from Tennessee state
assessments—by teacher and by student…
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“Three consecutive years of first quintile
(least-effective) teachers in grades threefive yield math scores from the 35th to
45th percentile. Conversely, three straight
years of fifth quintile (most-effective)
teachers result in scores at the 85th to
95th percentile.”
--USA Today, 2001 (Publication of the Society for
the Advancement of Education)
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1. Identify & Verify the
Scope of the
4. Monitor
Progress &
Solving Student Academic or
Behavioral Problems: A FourPart Model 3. Set
2. Select
That Address
‘Root Cause’
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RTI: “ …a process that determines
if the student responds to scientific,
research-based intervention…”
The devil is in
the details!
Jim Wright
Avg Classroom Academic
Performance Level
Skill Gap
Performance Level)
Gap in Rate of
Learning (‘Slope
of Improvement’)
‘Dual-Discrepancy’: RTI Model
of Learning Disability (Fuchs 2003)
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RTI: School-Wide Three-Tier
Framework (Kovaleski, 2003)
Tier I
Screening &
Tier II
Tier III
‘NonResponders’ to
Tier I Are
Identified &
(e.g., peer
Programming for
Students Who
Fail to Respond
to Tier II
(e.g., Special
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Tier II: ‘Non-Responders’ to Universally
Available Instructional Support (Fuchs et al., 2003;
Kovaleski, 2003)
Tier II assistance can be provided through:
• Team-based support to the classroom teacher,
• A “short-term course of pull-out intervention that
is based on a standard protocol of empirically
validated instructional treatments” e.g., peer
tutoring with fluency-building procedures (Kovaleski,
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Curriculum-Based Measurement &
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Using Data for Intervention (RTI) Team
Baseline Data (e.g.
CBM) Collected
Initial Meeting
Progress-Monitoring Data
(e.g. CBM) Collected
Intervention Started
& Monitored
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Meeting Held
Formative Assessment to Monitor
Response to Intervention
• Definition: “Ongoing assessment of
progress toward a long-term or major
• Example: Curriculum-Based Measurement
in Reading Fluency or Math Computation
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Formative Assessment: Advantages
• Provides teacher with ‘pulse measures’: ongoing
information about student progress
• Permits teacher to see direct impact of teaching
strategies on student performance
• Allows teacher to create ‘local norms’ against
which to compare the academic performance of
a target student
• Prevents instructor from spending too much
time, effort on strategies that are ineffective
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Jim Wright
Curriculum-Based Measurement :
Defining Characteristics:
‘Tests’ preselected objectives from local curriculum
Has standardized directions for administration
Is timed, yielding fluency, accuracy scores
Uses objective, standardized, ‘quick’ guidelines for
• Permits charting and teacher feedback
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CBM Techniques have been
developed to assess:
Reading fluency
Math computation
Phonemic awareness skills
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Implementing The RTI Model: Next
Steps for Schools
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Implementing RTI: Next Steps
1. Adopt evidence-based intervention strategies.
Academic interventions will have a higher chance
of success if they are based on sound empirical
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Implementing RTI: Next Steps
Web resources for evidence-based intervention
Big Ideas in Beginning Reading (U of Oregon):
What Works Clearinghouse (US Dept of Education):
Intervention Central:
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Implementing RTI: Next Steps
Train staff to collect frequent progress-monitoring data.
Curriculum-based measurement (CBM) can be used to assess a
student’s accuracy and speed in basic-skill areas such as reading
fluency, math computation, writing, spelling, and pre-literacy skills.
Teachers also can measure the behavior of struggling learners on
a daily basis by using classroom behavior report cards: simple,
convenient rating forms to track a child’s work completion,
attention to task, compliance with teacher directions, and other
behaviors that influence learning.
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Implementing RTI: Next Steps
Web resources for progress-monitoring
CBM Warehouse:
The Behavior Reporter (Behavior Report Card
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Implementing RTI: Next Steps
Develop building-level intervention programs to address
common academic concerns. When faced with large numbers
of students with shared academic concerns (e.g., reading
fluency), schools can create a building-level intervention program
to meet this need. For example, older children could tutor younger
students by using simple, research-based techniques to boost
their tutees’ reading fluency.
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Implementing RTI: Next Steps
Web resource for a building-level intervention
program: peer-tutoring/reading fluency
Kids as Reading Helpers Peer Tutoring Manual:
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Implementing RTI: Next Steps
Establish a building intervention team. Made up of teachers
and support staff, the intervention team can help referring
teachers design feasible strategies for struggling students.
Intervention teams also foster a sense of collegiality and mutual
support among educators, promote the use of evidence-based
interventions, and assist busy teachers in carrying out intervention
Jim Wright
Strategies to Minimize Teacher Resistance to
Classroom Interventions (Kovaleski, 2003)
• Collaborative team problem-solving process in
which the referring teacher is an active and
equal participant
• Peer-coaching’ format for introducing
intervention to classroom--with modeling of
intervention for teacher
• Ongoing consultation with referring teacher to
‘embed’ intervention into classroom routine
Jim Wright
Implementing RTI: Next Steps
Web resources on building intervention teams
Screening to Enhance Educational Performance: STEEP
(Joe Witt, Ph.D.):
Instructional Consultation Teams (Sylvia Rosenfield, Ph.D.)
School-Based Intervention Teams (Syracuse City Schools):
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Implementing RTI: Next Steps
5. Align Current Intervention & Assessment Efforts With
3-Tier Model. Many schools already have intervention &
assessment initiatives in place. Mapping out those
initiatives, standardizing their content, and tying them to
the appropriate level of the 3-tier intervention framework
can help schools to better coordinate intervention
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RTI Response By Levels: Examples
Tier I
Homework Club
Reading Lab
PBIS: Primary
Math Lab
Tier II
Tier III
Special Education
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PBIS: Secondary
PBIS: Tertiary
Fuchs, D., Mock, D., Morgan, P.L., & Young, C.L. (2003).
Responsiveness-to-Intervention: Definitions, evidence, and
implications for the learning disability construct. Learning Disabilities
Research & Practice, 18(3), 157-171.
Fuchs, L. (2003). Assessing intervention responsiveness: Conceptual
and technical issues. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 18(3),
Kovaleski, J. F. (2003). The three-tier model of identifying learning
disabilities: Critical program features and system issues. Paper
presented at the National Research Center on Learning Disabilities
Responsiveness-to-Intervention Symposium, Kansas City, MO.
Vaughn, S., & Fuchs, L.S. (2003). Redefining learning disabilities as
inadequate response to instruction: The promise and potential
problems. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 18(3), 137-146.
Jim Wright

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