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by Patricia Addison and Cynthia Warger
Table of Contents
Response to Intervention, or RTI, is a school improvement system characterized by effective core instruction, a multitiered system of supports, data-based problem solving, progress monitoring, and universal screening. Once a school or district's interest moves beyond the "talking about" stage and into the "careful consideration" or "let's move forward" stage, the individual or group of individuals championing the RTI concept in a school will be faced with two major tasks—to develop the RTI framework for the school, and to develop the RTI implementation plan. This action tool is designed to help school leaders navigate those two tasks.
This action tool provides the school administrative team and a team of educators—referred to throughout as the RTI Leadership Planning Team—with tools to help them plan how RTI will look and how it will be implemented in their school. It does not promote a particular model or approach to RTI. Rather, the assumption is that schools should develop or adopt a framework that fits what they need and then develop the capacity to put the framework into place. As the following vignettes demonstrate, educators develop interest in RTI for a variety of reasons.
The School Improvement Team at Buffalo Hills Middle School has been studying student achievement patterns, and there is concern. During the past several years, there has been a steady decline in student achievement on the state assessments. During that same period of time, student demographics have changed as well. In particular, about 20 percent of students from one of the feeder schools entered the middle school with significant literacy difficulties, whereas for several years that number had hovered around 6 percent. Team members want a way to intervene as soon as possible— especially with reading issues—and in a consistent manner. They know that resources are limited, and as a result they will need to organize carefully to maximize use. The School Improvement Team has been reviewing the potential of an RTI framework to help organize how the school addresses the reading difficulties of entering 6th grade students.
Like many other principals in the district, Dr. Allen, the principal at Howell Elementary School, has attended several workshops on RTI sponsored by the State Department of Education. Three years ago, the school implemented a schoolwide positive behavioral support approach that has been successful in keeping students in their classrooms and engaged in their work. Dr. Allen is intrigued about how an RTI approach might expand upon this work and address students' academic difficulties.
The Owen County School District has decided to implement an RTI framework throughout the district in response to state statutes that define how students are identified as having specific learning disabilities. Although the district has identified certain parameters for the initiative, administrative teams in each school are being asked to develop a plan for implementing RTI with staff. Principals are being encouraged to enact the following timeline:
Within their professional learning community, 1st and 2nd grade teachers at Beach Elementary School have been investigating how an RTI approach might be used to intervene early with students who struggle with reading or mathematics. Teachers have conferred with the administrative team and have been asked to prepare a plan for how RTI might operate in the school. In addition to the first and second grade teachers, the planning team will include the assistant principal, the reading coach, and a third grade teacher.
Just as these educators became interested in RTI for different reasons, there are numerous definitions, models, and approaches—not to mention entry points and strategies for implementation— from which to choose in planning for and implementing RTI. The purpose of this action tool is to help educators who are interested in establishing an RTI approach in their school do so in a way that addresses the preparation levels and capacity of the staff while maintaining the integrity of most RTI frameworks. The action tool helps planning teams navigate their way through several steps:
As with any set of planning tools, there are assumptions that are inherent in their design. That does not mean that the planning tools cannot be modified, only that they were designed with certain considerations in mind:
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