In education, storms (of a seemingly infinite variety) just keep on coming as students struggle to acquire the skills that will enable them to become successful adults. As educators, we can choose to sit back and complain about these ongoing difficulties, or we can be proactive and learn new ways to overcome these challenges and get the job done. In the following conversation, Gerald, who is on the building leadership team, tries to help Morgan, an 8th grade science teacher, understand how the old Intervention Assistance Team (IAT) is going to change into the problem-solving model of RTI. This new model will enable them to more gracefully weather the educational storms that continue to come their way.
Morgan: So what was wrong with the old way we did IAT?
Gerald: The old way just wasn't giving us quick, effective help for kids. RTI is about action to achieve specific goals, not just labels. The RTI team should suggest concrete strategies we can do tomorrow, not just testing or accommodations we've already tried a dozen times.
Morgan: But even if they come up with powerful strategies, I don't have the time or training to help struggling kids who probably have disabilities. Specialists need to do that.
Gerald: RTI problem-solving meetings aren't just for students with disabilities. They're also for struggling general education kids who couldn't buy an IEP. Tell the truth, has there ever been a year when you didn't have kids who were struggling but weren't considered special ed?
Morgan: True, we all have those kids. All right, so the RTI teams will provide specific plans for any student at risk. How do we know when a student's problems are serious enough to refer?
Gerald: That's one big difference in our new system—we don't wait until a student is in deep trouble. RTI is about identifying problems as soon as they become apparent. The RTI team's job is to help you so you can help the kids.
What Makes the RTI Problem-Solving Process Different?