Would you be able to do a better job implementing RTI if you understood exactly how it is supposed to work?
Response to Intervention is a focus on implementing a solution for all students to be successful.
What we are currently doing in U.S. schools isn't working. Current data shows that the United States is one of the only countries where the probability of a child graduating from high school is less than their parents.
Using RTI information for all levels of achievement can help us begin to truly close gaps and see more kids graduate from high school.
Efficient teaming, problem solving at each tier and making sound data-based decisions are the core of RTI interventions. This is a long-term process. It takes about three years for a school or district to get really good at it.
It is also a long-term commitment to the students based on their academic data from progress monitoring. More often than not, it isn't a quick fix.
Students can be in a Tier 2 or 3 intervention for 4 years or more, but as long as they are closing the gap sufficiently, it is working.
Besides being a federal requirement, we have to have a working system to help our students.
Schools may rely heavily on special education services. There is nothing at all wrong with an intervention specialist seeing students outside their caseload - if they have time.
However, this does not absolve the regular education teacher from intervening with fidelity and integrity. In some cases, this may unintentionally violate students' civil rights by treating them like they have a disability when in fact, they do not.
Although we don't like to talk about it, a large portion of students who are not entitled to special education services yet are struggling in the classroom are a direct result of poor Tier 1 teaching.
The few children who really are special education must have small group to one-on-one instruction in a completely different way that hits the skills they are missing, in addition to regular classroom instruction.
The first step to understanding RTI information is knowing how to clean up your core teaching - this is Tier 1. Without a strong first tier, the rest of RTI will fall apart - there will be way too many students going into Tier 2.
There must be 90 minutes of reading instruction every day in grades K-3. Teachers can use core strategies like guided reading, interactive read alouds, and teaching vocabulary using mentors such as Marzano.
Often a portion of that 90 minutes has to be given to direct instruction in phonics. There are many children who need this type of reading instruction to be successful and may never gain fluency & automaticity without it.
Once the Tier 1 strategies RTI are in place and being taught with fidelity and integrity, we can then look at Tiers 2 and 3. Your data will show who needs this (screening measures such as AIMS Web or DIBELS).
Tiers 2 and 3 are more intense levels of service to the student. When deciding to move a child into these tiers, a good guideline is: "In God we trust, but everybody else has to bring the data."
It is absolutely essential that we don't wait and hope that more of the same will cure the problem. These kids need help at the earliest possible moment.
As soon as you have finished screening, you have analyzed your RTI information and identified which students are not going to meet grade level goals, you figure out what level of service you are going to give them.
It may be that you simply need to increase the fidelity of your core teaching while progress monitoring the child. You should progress monitor weekly at Tier 1 for at least 6-8 weeks BEFORE moving to Tier 2.
Once the decision is made to move into Tier 2, you have to set appropriate goals for progress monitoring. There are a number of Response to Intervention tools that can be used for Tier 2. Just be sure they are both research and evidence based and are implemented with fidelity.
We have to be more diagnostic at this stage than simply relying on a simple screening measure.
What exactly is the problem?
Knowing this will guide you in providing the correct "treatment." This is not a "one program works for everybody" mentality.
Once a student is in Tier 2 we have to get data point which will show us in an objective manner if what we are doing is actually working. As soon as there are 4 consecutive data points either above or below the aim line, it is time to either raise the goal or change the intervention.
Note: If you have a student in Tier 2 who reaches grade level in 8-10 weeks, you misplaced the student. Clean up your core teaching.
Often the question comes up about how do we know if progress monitoring is working, especially when the child does not pass the state or national tests.
Well, has the child shown growth? Has the student learned? If yes, then the interventions and progress monitoring is working.
I have personally had many students who have shown tremendous growth, but they were so far below the goal when they came to me that there was no way they were going to pass a grade level test (but they should the following year if the interventions are still in place and working!).
If a student has reached grade level goals and the gap shows to be closed by the data, take him or her out. Make way for the next one and begin implementing the RTI interventions.
However, you must progress monitor every two weeks or at the least monthly to be sure student that was removed continues to progress. If the data shows they are slipping, get them back into Tier 2 immediately. Don't wait.
We don't want to treat students like they are in need of special services, but we want to give them what they need, when they need it, and not allow them to fail. That's the reason for gathering all of this RTI information.