## Capturing the complexity: examining the effect of instructional intensity in the context of a response to intervention framework on learning outcomes for students with academic and behavioral needs

##### Abstract

[EMBARGOED UNTIL 6/1/2023] The main purpose of this study was to investigate quality instruction for students with academic and behavioral needs within RTI framework by examining the differential effects of various levels of instructional intensity, using the nationally representative Early Childhood Longitudinal Study 2011 data set. With a dynamic system framework, teachers' instructional practices were investigated at a micro-level learning environment and the level of school Response-to- Intervention implementation was investigated at a macro-level learning environment, and how these two levels of learning environment synergistically work together to support learning opportunities for students with academic and behavioral needs were examined in this study. Specifically, teachers' instructional practices were described across three dimensions focusing on the (1) content of instruction (i.e., academic, behavior), (2) type of instruction (i.e., whole class, small group, individual work instruction), and (3) time spent on instruction (i.e., frequency and duration). Content, type, and amount of instruction which were derived from teachers' ratings, served as metrics of instructional intensity. School learning environments were measured by the level of school RTI implementation. The level of school RTI implementation which were derived from school administrators' rating, served as an indicator of a positive and supportive school environment for students at risk or with disabilities. Therefore, four research questions guided this study. First, to examine the differential effect of various levels. (1) Student level: To identify the types of patterns of students exhibited in academic and behavior in kindergarten, what are the subtypes of academic and behavioral adjustment among the kindergarten sample of students? And how does the latent profile membership affect later academic outcomes at the end of first grade? (2) Teacher level: To identify the relative effectiveness of varying levels of instructional intensity, how does the teachers' time spent on content and type of instruction affect students' later academic outcomes? And how do those instructional practices differentially affect students' later academic outcomes by the latent profile membership? (3) School level: To identify the quality of school environment, how does the level of school RTI implementation affects students' later academic outcomes? And how does the level of school RTI implementation differentially affect students' later academic outcomes by the latent profile membership? (4) Across level: To investigate a synergy effect of combined micro and macro-level learning environment, how does the interaction between teachers' instructional practices and school RTI implementation affect students' later academic outcomes? And how do those interactions differentially affect by the latent profile membership? For the analysis, students enrolled in spring of kindergarten were included as the sample of the study. The sample included a total of 15,344 of students, 5,013 of teachers, and 989 of schools Since the data in the study had a nested structure, multilevel modeling analysis was applied. The results suggested that first, there were four distinctive profile types of academic and behavioral adjustment in the kindergarten sample of the study: (1) Wellperforming in academics group (WP-A; n = 656), (2) Average performance in both academic and behavior group (AP-AB; n = 10,757), (3) Moderate risk for academic and behavior (MR-AB; n = 3,359); (4) Higher risk for behavior (HR-B; n = 572). The identified latent membership failed to predict the relationship between risk identified at early stage and their longitudinal negative outcomes, specifically for WP-A. Second, there was a significant main effect of content and type of instruction and moderating effect of latent profile membership on type of instruction. For the main effect of content of instruction, when teachers spent 15 minutes more time on addressing disruptive behavior, students were expected to score 0.239 times lower in their later academic outcomes. For the type of instruction, all the types of instruction significantly impacted on students' later academic outcomes. Specifically, for whole-class instruction, when teachers spent 45 minutes more time on whole-class instruction, students were expected to score 0.210 times higher in their later academic outcomes. For small group instruction, when teachers spent 45 minutes more time on small group instruction, students were expected to score 0.240 times lower in their later academic outcomes. For individual work instruction, when teachers spent 45 minutes more time on individual work instruction, students were expected to score 0.211 times higher in their later academic outcomes. Also, the differential effect of individual work instruction was observed. For WP-A, when teachers spent 45 minutes more on independent work instruction, students were expected to score 0.720 times higher in their later academic outcomes. However, students were expected to score 0.246 times lower in their later academic outcomes for MR-AB. Third, there was no significant main of school RTI implementation on students' later academic outcomes. However, there was a significant interaction between HR-B and school RTI implementation. Specifically, for HR-B, students were expected to score 0.616 times higher on their later academic outcomes, compared to AP-AB. Lastly, there was a significant main effect of interaction between behavior instruction and school RTI implementation. The higher a school RTI implementation level, 0.173 times greater the effect of behavior instruction provided by that school on student's later academic outcomes. Also, there was a significant interaction between MRAB, time spent on academic instruction, and school RTI implementation. Specifically, for students with moderate risk for academic and behavior, the higher a school RTI implementation level, 0.783 times greater the effect of the duration of academic instruction provided by that school on students' later academic outcomes. Interesting finding was that the two systems (learning environment) synergistically affected student's later academic outcomes whereas neither teacher's academic instruction nor school RTI alone did. These findings support a dynamic systems model of how individual students learn in the context of classroom instruction and the school learning environment.

##### Degree

Ph. D.