Monday, April 15, 2013

RTI in a Middle School Mathematics Classroom

By Lindsey Perry, RME Research Assistant

Are you looking for tools and resources to help you reach all students, including those who are struggling in mathematics? Are you seeking out professional development to help you grow in your teaching? The Middle-school Students in Texas: Algebra Ready (MSTAR) initiative can help you learn instructional strategies to assist students struggling with mathematics, assess student understanding, and meet the needs of all learners.

The MSTAR initiative, funded by the Texas Legislature and developed by the Texas Education Agency, is a comprehensive project that provides teachers and administrators with assessments, professional development, and intervention lessons to improve grades 5–8 mathematics achievement in Texas and to sustain the implementation of Response to Intervention (RTI).

An important step in the RTI process is assessing student understanding. To do just that, the MSTAR initiative provides teachers with screening and diagnostic instruments, the MSTAR Universal Screener and the MSTAR Diagnostic. The MSTAR Universal Screener assists teachers in determining if a student is at-risk or on-track for meeting grade level algebra-readiness expectations and the level of support the student may need in order to be successful. The MSTAR Universal Screener is administered three times per year in order to monitor student progress and is administered online at The spring administration window is April 8 – May 10, 2013. To find out more, visit or email

The MSTAR Diagnostic Assessment is currently in development. The MSTAR Diagnostic should be administered to students who have been identified by the MSTAR Universal Screener as at-risk for meeting algebra-readiness expectations. This instrument provides teachers with information about why students are struggling and the misconceptions students may have. We are currently seeking a small set of classrooms to participate in the MSTAR Diagnostic Beta test. These classes must have already taken MSTAR Universal Screener at least once this year. While this is a beta test, teachers will receive data on how their students performed. If you are interested, please email us at

The MSTAR Initiative also includes numerous online and face-to-face professional development opportunities. Trainings are available that focus on providing all students with quality Tier I instruction (MSTAR Academy I), strategies for Tier II instruction (Academy II), and data-driven decision making (Implementation Tools). Trainings on topics such as addressing the needs of English language learners, addressing the College and Career Readiness Standards, and teaching fraction/decimal relationships are also available, among many others. Many of the trainings are now available online at For more information, contact your Education Service Center or search the Project Share course catalog at

The MSTAR Initiative can help you improve your teaching and help you better understand your students’ needs and how to meet those needs. We encourage you to check out the MSTAR assessments and professional development offerings!

For detailed information about the initiative and the Response to Intervention framework, we invite you to click the link for a copy of “Supporting Students’ Algebra Readiness: A Response to Intervention Approach” in Texas Mathematics Teacher.

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