Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership


Dr. Michael D. Brooks


Response to Intervention (RtI) is a current reform initiative being examined by educators, politicians, and proponents of differentiated education. RtI has tiers of intervention designed to meet the various academic needs of all students. RtI has been developed as an educational methodology to increase student achievement through various problem-solving techniques, through the implementation of specific interventions based on each student’s individual needs, and through data-based decision making regarding the interventions used. The implementation of RtI requires schools to shift current educational paradigms of how services are delivered to students.

This quantitative causal comparative study compared the effectiveness of PLATO alone, a computer-assisted instructional program, as a reading and math intervention to the combination of PLATO and differentiated instruction provided by a highly qualified teacher for fifth and sixth grade students. The study took place at two intermediate schools (grades 5 and 6) within a suburban school district in the central region of Arkansas. Fourteen intact Tier II intervention classrooms were identified to participate in the study, two at each school. Classrooms were selected because they were composed of students who were classified as being at-risk due to not scoring proficient or barely scoring proficient on the 2010 ACTAAP Augmented Benchmark Exam. Students within the classrooms were selected by stratified random sampling to ensure the overall populations as well as subpopulations of race and genders were represented.

A 2 x 2 factorial analysis of covariance was conducted to investigate each of the four hypotheses. The covariates were the math and reading scaled scores on the previous year’s ACTAAP Augmented Benchmark Exam. The independent variables were type of instruction and gender, and the dependent variables were math and reading achievement measured by the scaled scores on the 2011 ACTAAP Augmented Benchmark Exam.

This study found no significant interaction effects between type of instruction and gender in the four hypotheses. However, type of instruction as a main effect was significant in three of the four hypotheses. PLATO combined with a highly qualified teacher was more effective on math achievement for both grade levels and on reading achievement for at-risk fifth graders. Gender was a significant main effect in fifth grade reading with the female students scoring higher than the male students did. Within the sixth grade reading groups, although the PLATO with the highly qualified teacher group did score higher than the PLATO alone group did, the result was not significant. Therefore, the overall results of this study indicated the addition of a highly qualified teacher to the PLATO, CAI intervention, significantly improved at-risk students’ achievement for these fifth and sixth grade students within Central Arkansas.

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