I know there are many feelings about RTI…some have good feelings and a lot of teachers feel negatively about it. An article was recently published about RTI and how it was found that RTI did not accomplish all that was promised that it could do.
Education Week published an article reporting that their research showed that RTI did NOT live up to its promises. Click here to read that post.
I don’t doubt that in many schools RTI is not working. Those schools may not have enough appropriate staff to implement it, the teachers may not have enough time built into their schedules for RTI, the school may not have provided enough training… The list goes on and on. I have heard from so many teachers how long the process is, the disorganization, and no consistant structure in their model of RTI.
But I would like to show you how RTI CAN be successful. How students CAN learn with the appropriate interventions. And that in our school, students DO make significant progress that transfers into the classroom learning.
This has been on my mind for a while now and I just felt the need to speak up and demonstrate how effective RTI can be.
~ Works well if you have someone willing to take charge of implementation and improving the system every year. Along with the RTI coordinator, appoint a committee to help you implement the methods you agree on for your school. The committee is also there to help you with ideas and for the decision meetings. Your committee will help build buy-in with your teachers. You will NEED buy-in to make the process smoother and easier.
~ Needs to be systematic and regulated: We follow our states recommended guidelines of implementation. They recommended 3 tiers of increasing intensity, 2 targeted interventions at a time, and weekly progress monitoring for Tiers 2 & 3.
~Has set RTI times built into your daily schedule. It usually does not work as well to expect teachers to just fit it in somewhere each day. At my school we have a 30 minute time slot for K-1 students, grades 2-3 students and grades 4-5 students. This ensures that interventions do not get put off and forgotten.
~Should follow a continuum of skills for each grade level. After you have decided what skills the student doesn’t have that is keeping them from success, those will be the interventions to go back in to fill in their learning gaps.
~ Involves parents. We send the parents of each tier 2 & 3 student notification letters. In these letters, we inform the parents what tier their child is in, what interventions they will be receiving and what assessments will be given.
Expect changes in your RTI program! Your RTI should not look exactly the same the 5th year you are implementing it as it did the 1st year. You (or the RTI coordinator) should be tweaking and improving it every year. Find what works and change what doesn’t! Let’s be honest. You have to start somewhere and then with some trial and error you fix what doesn’t work. When we first started RTI, my administrator didn’t know how to implement it and neither did I. The first meeting we had after the folders were turned in was not a success. Teachers had not filled out the paperwork completely or correctly. Some hadn’t finished giving the interventions. It was not good. So it was back to the drawing board on how to make this easier and better and how to communicate better what we needed the teachers to do. And we did. One huge tip- decrease that paperwork down to as small amount as possible. Classroom teachers do NOT have time to spend hours filling out paperwork!
Celebrate the successes! RTI was developed to help students that have been struggling. The number of students in our program needing interventions over the last few years has decreased tremendously! We attribute that to focusing on catching students early. If you are a student in kindergarten or first grade and you are below grade level at all in reading, you automatically go into Tier 2. Another way RTI is showing that it is effective and working in our school is that we have fewer numbers of students in the upper grades qualifying for RTI! Once we get them going and out of RTI, most of those students are holding that progress and not qualifying to go back in to the program.
The graphs and pages in the pictures can be found in these RTI Data Intervention Binders. There is one binder each for kindergarten through fifth grade.
I hope this overview helps you to see how RTI CAN be an effective way to help students be successful! Please take a moment to let me know how RTI is working in your school.