Problem Solving ModelStep 1—Define the Problem

PURPOSE: To define the problem as the measurable difference between the desired outcome and the actual behavior or performance.


  • What is the desired outcome? 

  • What is the actual performance? 

  • What is the difference between the two? 

  • If there is more than one problem determine which is the highest priority. 

  • Is the problem school-wide, grade level, whole class, small group, or 

Step 2—Problem Analysis

PURPOSE: To gather relevant information in the domains of instruction, curriculum, environment and the learner(s) through the use of reviews, interviews, observations and tests to determine contributing factors to the problem.

  • Have we collected data about variables that are educationally relevant and alterable? 

  • Is there something we could change to increase the probability that learning will occur?

Step 3—Plan Implementation

PURPOSE: To select and implement a system support or an intervention that is focused on what to teach, how best to teach it, and how to monitor progress.

What is the simplest thing that can be done that has the greatest impact?

  • System supports or interventions must be based upon data and knowledge gained through the steps of problem definition and problem analysis.
  • System supports or intervention plan development includes selection of an evidence- based practice, determination of who will be responsible, alignment of resources, how fidelity of implementation will be measured, how progress will be monitored, and specific decision points criteria met.
  • Progress monitoring involves collecting, graphing and using data frequently. 

  • Progress monitoring requires plan development including who, what, when, and how 
frequently data are collected and reviewed.

 Step 4—Evaluate Response to Intervention

PURPOSE: To determine the effectiveness of implemented system supports or interventions and make appropriate educational decisions.


  • Was the system support or intervention successful? 

  • Does the plan require more time and monitoring or modification? 

  • Was the system support or intervention implemented with fidelity? 

  • Was the outcome met according to set criteria? 

  • Do we have the resources to sustain these supports? 

  • Do we need to go back to previous steps? 

  • Celebrate progress! 


Learn more about our Problem-Solving Process:

CDE Problem Solving Flip Book

CDE Data-BasedProblemSolving&Decision-Making Power Point