What should schools consider when deciding whether or not to adopt the RTI approach?
Page 8: Secure Funds
Now that Mayflower Elementary has an action plan, Mr. Irwin and the planning team discuss how to financially support the infrastructure and materials required to implement RTI effectively. Through more research, they discover that IDEA 2004 states that school districts can use up to 15% of Federal Part B funds for early intervening services:
“[F]or children in kindergarten through grade 12 (with a particular emphasis on children in kindergarten through grade 3) who have not been identified as needing special education or related services, but who need additional academic and behavioral support to succeed in a general education environment.”
For Your Information
According to IDEA 2004, school districts:
Can use up to 15% of Federal Part B funding to provide:
Education evaluations, services, and supports
Behavioral evaluations, services, and supports
Who use the 15% of Federal Part B must annually report to their state education agencies (SEA):
The number of students who received early intervening services
The number of students who received early intervening services and subsequently received special education services
Must use the full 15% of Federal Part B funding if minority students are overrepresented in their special education programs
The planning team also finds out that if the school were to receive this money, it would have to keep detailed data on students’ progress. In addition to using early intervening funds to implement RTI, districts and principals need to think creatively about how to fund RTI implementation. For instance, they may consider a variety of sources for funding RTI:
Title I funds
Title V funds (State Grants for Innovation)
IDEA ’04 state discretionary funds
Small one-time grants
Current year growth funds
It should be noted, however, that not all schools need to seek funding in order to implement RTI. Many schools already provide high-quality instruction and can adopt the remainder of the RTI components (e.g., frequent progress monitoring) at little or no cost. Schools may also support the implementation of RTI by reallocating or more efficiently using existing resources. For example, a Title I teacher may provide Tier 2 intervention, or a school psychologist may assume RTI data-related responsibilities and may participate in grade-level team meetings
To learn more about how schools across the country are funding RTI, Mr. Irwin and a few members of the planning team attend a panel discussion on this topic. Click on the table below to hear what each panelist has to say.
Dr. Larry Wexler Director, Research to Practice Division U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs
Where do Local Education Agencies (LEAs) or school districts obtain funding for RTI, and how can the funding be used (time: 0:43)?
The thing that’s interesting about this is that every school district in the country has the option of setting aside 15 percent of their special education federal funds to be used for these early intervening services, which means that they can set aside 15 percent of their federal special education dollars for things like scientifically based reading instruction, positive behavior supports, scientifically based math instruction, prior to the children being identified as special education students.
Transcript: Dr. Larry Wexler
First of all, it’s discretionary on the part of the school district, not the state. There’s also the reporting requirement relative to the 15 percent that relates to they actually have to track the kids who receive benefit from the 15 percent and whether or not they get referred to special ed. I mean, Congress has made it very clear in the committee report that the intent here is to reduce the number of kids who have to be evaluated.
Kathy Strunk Director, Tennessee State Improvement Grant Tennessee Department of Education
What funding has the State of Tennessee considered (time: 0:39)?
Tennessee is fortunate to have a governor who places education as a top priority, and this year he included in his budget a significant increase in monies for “at risk” educational purposes. So, then, these funds are appropriate for enhancement and enrichment, but they are certainly aligned with the needs of our struggling learners, making them an appropriate source of funding for our early intervening services. All of our districts are also eligible to receive current year growth funds, and those also could be used to accommodate RTI purposes.
Transcript: Kathy Strunk
Title funds and resources are certainly appropriate to consider. For example, a Title I teacher might be able to provide Tier 2 interventions. Or a special education resource teacher might be able to work in a different capacity than he or she has in the past, such as maybe providing whole-group or small-group instruction in the classroom. We have Reading First resources in some of our schools, and these can be looked at to determine how to maximize the tiered instructional process. As state policymakers continue to look for ways to make Tennessee’s funding formula, the Basic Education Program, more responsive to the needs of at-risk students, our directors of schools would like to see additional funding that could be used for supports that emphasize early intervening services, such as RTI coach positions.
Tiffany Brown Program Administrator, Coordinated Student Services Long Beach Unified School District Long Beach, California
How have schools in the Long Beach School District in California funded the RTI initiative (time: 0:37)?
The schools are primarily using Title I because that’s certainly the majority categorical funding source, a little bit of school improvement funds, which are state funds. Title I has really been the primary source. Sixty percent of our schools in Long Beach receive some Title I support, which brings more resources to the schools, and so for those schools they were able to talk about how they would address the needs of students at Tier 2 and Tier 3 using those funds.
Transcript: Tiffany Brown
Where the issue of funding does occur is in schools that have no categorical funds—and for us it’s very few schools—but nonetheless it’s usually smaller schools that serve a student population with a higher socio-economic level that we’ve had to work a little more creatively with in terms of options that are available for students who might not be proficient in those schools. The good news with that is that it’s not as many students. For us, funds have not been a stopping point. This conversation, related to RTI as I see it, is about efficiently using what we have before we determine that more is necessary.
Brian Miller Jefferson Elementary School Pella, Iowa
Schools in other states are using Title I funding to support the implementation of RTI. Is this an option at your school (time: 0:15)?
Our Reading Plus, Title I program is funded less than 40 percent by the federal dollars, and the rest is funded by district dollars. The district has felt that need to say, “You know what, we need the additional reading help; we’re going provide [it] ourselves since we’re not getting the funding.”
Transcript: Brian Miller
We’re seeing as we utilize our people better—and Title I and special ed students will kind of be receiving services by whoever is providing it and makes the most sense—we’re just able to better utilize our time. So instead of two teachers doing the same group with two groups of kids, one teacher will do it with four and the other teacher is free then to do another group of students. Again, I think that cuts down the staffing needs; we can just utilize our people better.
Imagine that you are the principal at Jackson Elementary School and that you are exploring the funding options to support RTI. Survey the unique funding streams for your school, and identify two potential funding sources.