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Masters of Special Education with Academic Instruction Certification

Data-Based Decision Making - Topic 13

What is it?

Data-based decision making involves using the information collected about student performance and responsiveness through screening and progress monitoring (i.,e., data) to systematically determine how the school will best enhance student outcomes through increasingly intensive layers of support (i.e., decision making). Data-based decision making is the fundamental core of Response-to-Intervention (RTI). Decision-making often entails making changes to the instruction or intervention provided a specific student. It may also involve making changes to school-wide instruction and intervention efforts. (e.g., implement a core vocabulary intervention across all content area classes).

Why is it important?

Response-to-Intervention does not function without decision-making based upon data. In secondary schools, decision-making often involves a wider array of variables than at the elementary level. General and special educators should be (a) knowledgeable of the various data used to evaluate RTI at the secondary level, and (b) should be prepared to collect and interpret these data to evaluate student response and instructional effectiveness.


Fuchs, D., Fuchs, L. S., & Compton, D. L. (2012). Smart RTI: A next-generation approach to multilevel

prevention. Exceptional Children, 78(3), 263-279.

Hamilton, L., Halverson, R., Jackson, S., Mandinach, E., Supovitz, J., & Wayman, J. (2009). Using

student achievement data to support instructional decision making (NCEE 2009-4067).

Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and  Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.  Retrieved from

Web Links

Building RTI Capacity - Using Data to Differentiate Intervention Instruction: A Middle School Example [Audio-Enhanced PowerPoint Presentation]

National Center on Response to Intervention - Data-Based Decision Making Resources

Smart RTI: A Next Generation Approach to Multi-Level Prevention [Webinar by Doug Fuchs]

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