Supporting struggling learners with Response to Intervention

At Mathspace, we believe every student can excel in mathematics with the right help at the right time. See how Mathspace supports the Response to Instruction and Intervention (RTI) model to help struggling learners.

Supporting struggling learners with Response to Intervention

One of the most common reasons people become teachers is to make a difference in the lives of as many students as possible. This means teachers are never happy when one student falls behind.

With Response to Instruction and Intervention (RTI) emerging as a best-practice model in the United States to help support of struggling learners, students do not have to fail before receiving support.

The Response to Intervention model focuses on 3 main components:

  1. High-quality initial instruction
  2. Quick identification of students in need of help
  3. Support for struggling students

This model requires teachers to think carefully through the course objectives, anticipate where students are more likely to have difficulty, then craft instruction that takes this into account. Teachers are essentially planning support for students that may struggle ahead of time.

The big questions is: How can one teacher do all of this and not fall behind in the course?

I've put together this article to show teachers how Mathspace can help to support teachers in implementing RTI practices.

Tier 1 Instruction:  High-quality, differentiated instruction

Mathspace eBook lessons are designed to support all learners with engaging interactive applets that allow students to explore concepts. By reviewing the Worked examples and Practice questions sections, students can test their newly acquired content without penalty – make mistakes fearlessly. Because Mathspace provides teachers with multiple grade levels of content, teachers can scaffold their instruction to encompass the anticipated areas of difficulty. Teachers have all of this at their fingertips to assist them with crafting engaging and exploratory lessons for all students.

Tier 2 Instruction: Small group intervention

To determine whether a student is struggling, the use of data is essential. Tier 2 Instruction is targeted for students who are identified with a potential weakness in a certain area. The phrase “in a certain area,” is important because a student can need Tier 2 Instruction for Geometry and Measurement Topic but not for Equations and Inequalities. Mathspace helps teachers determine who may need additional supports in different areas. By using the Diagnostic Testing series, teachers receive a detailed report on each student’s potential strengths and weaknesses across 3 grade levels. With this information and other data points, determine which areas need intervention for different groups of students. Teachers can monitor students’ progress weekly on Mathspace’s Weekly Insights and students can monitor their own progress by using the Topics page.

Tier 3 Instruction: Intensive intervention

Tier 3 Instruction is in addition to Tier 1 and provides students who are significantly below grade level with the intervention that fills in the instructional gaps within the students’ mathematics foundation. During Tier 1, teachers can help fill these instructional gaps by providing connections to prior taught concepts from previous grade levels – making connections explicit. Mathspace allows teachers to create tasks that are on-grade level, above grade level, and below grade level and assign these tasks to the whole class, small groups of students, or an individual student. By using this feature, students can have assignments that are appropriate for them without students knowing that there is a difference. Teachers can use the Diagnostic Strand Tests to monitor student progress on targeted areas of deficits. Teachers who are providing Tier 3 Instruction separately from Tier 1, have access to the problems completed in Tier 1. This allows the teacher to see how this content is connected to below-grade level subtopics by using the Mastery page and changing the Curriculum focus.

Elements of RTI

Element Mathspace Tool
Screening Diagnostic Course Tests and Reports can be given as a Pre, Mid, and Post test to identify potential strengthens and weaknesses.
Instructional Assessments - Tier 1 Custom and Adaptive Task can be given to all students on current grade level content.
Progress Monitoring -
Tier 2 and Tier 3
Diagnostic Strand Test can be given to assess student progress or performance in those areas in which they were identified by universal screening as being at-risk for failure.
In-Depth Instruction eBook lesson and applets can be used to augment direct instruction.
Systematic and Explicit Instruction eBook lesson, investigations, and applets
  • Applets have guiding questions for conceptual development
  • Investigations allow students to apply newly acquired knowledge and make connections to previous taught material
  • Students given opportunities to verbalize, write, discuss, and practice skills learned
Solving Word Problems Tasks allow students to solve problems with different approaches and provide hints and videos that focus on how to conceptualize a problem situation and identify needs, analyze factors contributing to the problem situation, design strategies to meet those needs, and implement and evaluate the strategies.

Investigations allow students to solve situational problems using newly acquired knowledge and skills.
Visual Representations of Math Concepts Applets provide students access to abstract mathematical ideas through the use of items that can be physically/virtually manipulated.
Fluency-Building Activities Task Templates teachers can create common assessment fluency-builders using content from grade 3 through grade 5 and share throughout the school or district.
Motivation Tasks are designed to re-enforce growth mindset by providing encouraging words when students correctly answer a question and offering hints/videos as an optional resource.

Mathspace strives to support educators in being the right help to students at the right time. If you want to learn more, join our community on Facebook and schedule a professional learning session with us. We can customize a professional learning session around your district or school initiatives.

The illiterates of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but, rather those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.

- Alvin Toffler


ACT. (2008). The forgotten middle: ensuring that all students are on target for college and career readiness before high school. IA City, IA.

Gersten, R. M., & Newman-Gonchar, R. (2011). Understanding Rti in mathematics: proven methods and applications. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.

Jackson, R. R. (2011). How to motivate reluctant learners. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

McCook, J. E. (2009). Leading and managing Rti: five steps for building and maintaining the framework. Horsham, PA: LRP Publications.

SchoolBoard. (2015, May 11). College Success Starts In Math Class. Retrieved from

Stipek, D., Schoenfeld, A., & Gomby, D. (2019, February 21). Math Matters, Even for Little Kids. Retrieved from