Hey, y’all — Last call to share your RtI expertise with SLM readers!
Hey, y’all — Last call to share your RtI expertise with SLM readers!
Continuing the conversation about Response to Intervention, it can be useful to think of RtI as being in three stages. According to a 2008 article from Education Week,
In practice, RTI can look quite different from school to school. But several key components are necessary for a successful program, researchers say. Students are generally screened early in the school year to determine if they may have educational difficulties, and to help their teachers figure out what extra lessons they may need.
Children with such difficulties are given increasingly intense instruction geared to bolstering the areas where they need help. The interventions must be scientifically based and given with fidelity, meaning that teachers must present the lessons as they were meant to be taught. Additional tests, or “progress monitoring,” continues for those students through the school year, to make sure the extra lessons are working.
Finally, if a student still hasn’t responded to several different interventions, he or she may need further evaluation, or special education services. The hope among some proponents of RTI is that by providing intensive instruction as soon as a problem is noted, children can be steered away from special education.
The article continues by discussing a principal involved in bringing RtI into her building:
“I told teachers it was going to feel really overwhelming. We’re going to be juggling a lot of balls, and it’s going to feel like they’re falling,” said Jolene Comer, the principal of both Lynnville-Sully Elementary School and a 120-student middle school housed in the same building. Heartland officials approached the principal because the school was already in the process of adopting a new reading curriculum. Ms. Comer said the instructional-decisionmaking process seemed to fit well with the other changes in the school.
Introducing RTI required restructuring the day so that grade-level teachers had common planning time, changing staff members’ duties so they could work closely with students who were having problems, and introducing intensive professional development.
“The whole staff really felt like this was important. Now it’s been a year and a half, [and] it feels like business as usual. I feel we’ve accomplished a lot,” Ms. Comer said.
The process has led to a new energy within the building, she added. Teachers are working together more than they ever have before. Labels for children aren’t as important as they once were, she said, which she sees as a benefit. “These are all our kids,” Ms. Comer said.
In six days of training with Heartland staffers, the team from Lynnville-Sully was asked some probing questions. Among them: Is the core instruction given to all pupils the best that it can be? How will you know which students require interventions? What interventions will be used? How will you monitor effectiveness?
This is why RTI, despite having common elements, can look so different in practice from one school to the next. “This is not a scripted program,” Ms. Comer said. “You don’t take this and just fit it into your day.”
The Education Week article also summarizes the Iowa Department of Education’s approach to RtI:
Iowa’s Principles for RTI
• All students are part of one proactive educational system
Belief that all students can learn
Use available resources to teach all students
• Use scientific, research-based instruction
Curriculum and instructional approaches must have a high probability of success for most students
Use instructional time efficiently and effectively
• Use instructionally relevant assessments that are reliable and valid
Screening: Collecting data for the purpose of identifying low- and high-performing students at risk for not having their needs met
Diagnostic: Gathering information from multiple sources to determine why students are not benefiting from instuction
Formative:Frequent, ongoing collection of information, including both formal and informal data, to guide instruction
• Use a problem-solving method to make decisions based on a continuum of student needs
Provide strong core curriculum, instruction, and assessment
Provide increasing levels of support based on increasing levels of student needs
• Data are used to guide instructional decisions
To align curriculum and instuction to assessment data
To allocate resources
To drive professional-development decisions
• Professional development and follow-up modeling and coaching to ensure effective instruction at all levels
Provide ongoing training and support to assimilate new knowledge and skills
Anticipate and be willing to meet the newly emerging needs based on student performance
• Leadership is vital
Strong administrative support to ensure commitment and resources
Strong teacher support to share in the common goal of improving instruction
Leadership team to build internal capacity and sustainability over time
SOURCE: Iowa Department of Education
It’s interesting to see how many threads in the Iowa checklist are already common practice in many schools: rethinking assessments, professional development, responsive instruction based on student achievement, and the importance of leadership, among others.
Have you been working with RtI in your school? We’d love to hear about the resources and questions that guided your adoption. You can share them below (and, if you like, also talk about reader’s and writer’s workshop, other upcoming topics) and help out other librarians searching to find their role in this initiative.
OK, librarians, there are some topics about life at school that are easy and fun and exciting.
And there are some topics that are challenging and less-fun.
Response to Intervention (RTI or RtI) is, for most librarians, the second. But when we consider why many of us became librarians, helping people was at the top of the list. And that’s what RtI attempts to do: to identify struggling kids as early as possible and get them short-term, focused remediations that will get them back on track with their learning. In its best form, it prevents schools from overidentifying students as having learning disabilities or special needs while getting temporarily-struggling kids the help they need.
My district was just beginning to implement RtI when I left to join the university, so this is one of those topics where I’m relying on the collective mind to pool best practices. One site that has been really helpful for me to wrap my head around the core principles was the State of Washington’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, which defines RtI in this way:
Response to Intervention (RTI) is a multi-level prevention system to maximize student achievement and to reduce behavior problems. RTI is funded by the State Personnel Development Grant.
With RTI, schools identify students at risk for poor learning outcomes, monitor student progress, provide evidence-based interventions and adjust the intensity and nature of those interventions depending on a student’s responsiveness, and identify students with learning disabilities.
Through this process, ongoing data collection is used to recognize students with learning disabilities much earlier than in the past. This allows students to be provided with the help they need before further learning disabilities develop.
There are multiple approaches to RTI.
RtI is a great way for entreprenuurial school librarians to be involved at the very core level of instruction in their building. Could a child come to you during flexible time (if you have it!) to get a mini-lesson on a reading comprehension or math skill with which she is struggling? Could you take half the class for an advanced inquiry/information literacy lesson while the classroom teacher provides remedial support (or vice versa)?
How have you discussed RtI in your buildings? What resources have guided your faculty meetings and PLCs? What books or articles have benefitted you the most? What guiding questions have supported you?
Help your library colleagues who may just be beginning this journey. Share your thoughts (and, if you like, thoughts about Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop) in the form below, and you could see your name in print!