1/9/2014 1:14:00 PM Response to Intervention:
What is all the buzz about?
by JAMIE NORD SCRED Special Education Director
Response to Intervention, otherwise known as “RtI”, has become quite the buzzword in education over the past decade. As a community member or parent of a student attending the Chisago Lakes School District, you may have heard the term “RtI” in reference to the educational system. Supported by federal and state laws, such as No Child Left Behind Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, RtI continues to be in the early stages of implementation in districts across the nation. Fortunately, that is not the case in Chisago Lakes. The Chisago Lakes School District, with support from the St. Croix River Education District, has been implementing this multi-tiered framework for nearly 20 years and continues to be a leader in RtI implementation across the state and nation.
The district’s dedication to this framework speaks to its commitment of maximizing learning and creating success for all students. At the heart of an RtI framework is high-quality, research based instruction and intervention well matched to individual student need. Using the following tiered framework, RtI uses screening and progress monitoring data to inform decisions regarding groups’ and individual student’s educational programs:
• Tier I: All students receive high-quality, scientifically-based core instruction and curriculum linked to state standards. Universal screening is conducted three times yearly to examine effectiveness of overall instructional practices and to help identify students who may be at-risk for academic difficulties. Teachers work together in collaborative teams to review student data and discuss ways to make the core instruction more effective.
• Tier II: When there is converging evidence that students are not making adequate progress in the core curriculum, students are provided small-group, supplemental instruction in addition to the time allotted for core instruction. Tier II instruction includes instruction, strategies, and programs designed to supplement, enhance and support Tier I, and is typically delivered in small groups. Teachers monitor student progress frequently and make changes to instruction when student progress is not satisfactory.
• Tier III: Students receive intensive, strategic, and supplemental instruction specifically designed and customized to meet the student’s needs. This instruction targets the student’s specific skill deficits, and is typically delivered in a very small group or one on one setting. Progress may be monitored even more frequently than in Tier II to determine the effectiveness of the intervention. Interventions may then be modified or changed based on the collected data.
As evidenced above, the RtI framework supports early intervention to prevent academic, social-emotional, or behavioral difficulties and thus the need for special education services in many cases. There are many benefits associated with RtI. Most notably, students benefit from the school’s ability to identify needs early and to intervene quickly. Students no longer “wait to fail” in order to access intervention services, as is often seen in traditional service delivery models. Within the RtI framework, teachers use regularly collected assessment data to monitor student progress, and are able to intervene at the earliest indication of need.
Because of this proactive and preventative approach a student receives help promptly within the general education setting, when problems are most easily remediated. In addition to benefiting the students, this outcome also results in cost savings to the district. Since implementing the RtI framework, the Chisago Lakes School District has seen a significant decrease in the number of students needing special education services under the category of Specific Learning Disability. Parents also play a critical role in the implementation of an effective RtI framework. The district will notify parents when their student is participating in an intervention outside the core instruction, and provide information on their student’s “responsiveness.”
It benefits both the student and school staff when parents can provide information about their student’s specific strengths and areas of need. When possible, parents should make suggestions about strategies and interventions based on what they know works at home. Parents can also reinforce strategies or interventions at home, and should recognize and praise their student for any improvement in the area of concern. In summary, the goal of an RtI framework is to provide the type of instruction and educational support each student needs to be successful in the general education classroom. Through the implementation of an RtI framework, the Chisago Lakes School District is committed to meeting the needs of all students that walk through its doors.