When implementing the MTSS model with adult learners, Tier I interventions included a significant structural change in course scheduling to alter the two or three days a week of class time to five days a week. This re-structure allowed the remedial mathematics coursework to be divided into three units of instruction delivered in four blocks of time. To successfully complete the course by the end of the fifteen week semester, students were required to pass three units. Consequently, Tier III started after the first unit was completed to re-teach students who had failed exam 1, and then followed along throughout the semester to support students who did not pass unit 2 or 3 exams. Likewise, students who passed each unit exam completed the course a month before the semester ended.
As importantly, our mathematicians developed approximately 30 learning outcomes from a previous list of 120+ objectives for each basic and intermediate algebra course as the formative assessments used in the post-secondary MTSS model. Related problem sets from MyMathLab® were selected for both homework assignments and quizzes. These formative assessments were then used in Tier I to screen for at-risk learners by each learning outcome (e.g., students scoring less than 70% were then offered Tier II support in the Math Assistance Center).
Explicit instruction (Archer & Hughes, 2011; Hollingsworth, & Ybarra, 2008; Marchand-Martella et.al., 2004; National Mathematics Advisory Panel, 2008) was the evidence based teaching method used in each of the three tiers of support. In addition, math mentors were assigned to Tier I classes twice weekly to assist with instruction and provide student performance feedback (Perin, 2004; Robinson, Schofield, & Steers-Wentzell, 2005).
Automaticity tests and student attribute measures were administered as Tier I interventions in the university MTSS model. During the first week of class, instruments to measure mathematics anxiety (Bai et al., 2009), mathematics confidence (Dowling, 1978), academic motivation (Vallerand et al., 1992; 1993), and mathematics usefulness were administered to over 800 students who agreed to participate in the study.
During Tier I, students were identified who had not mastered fluency with numeracy (e.g., adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, fractions, decimals, percentages) and offered additional instruction time in the Math Assistance Center (MAC) as a Tier II intervention within the first two weeks of class. Additionally, Tier II support offered targeted interventions with a math mentor in the MAC on a ‘drop in’ basis or, when prompted by the instructor if student had failed a learning outcome quiz throughout the semester.
Tier III support provided a second chance for students who were most at-risk of failing the course to re-teach an instructional unit. This level of assistance offered a significant reduction in teacher-student ratio (e.g., one to ten or less versus one to 25 or more) for intensive intervention. In addition, math mentors were assigned to the Tier III classroom 5 times per week to offer individualized instruction and student performance feedback.