What should schools consider when deciding whether or not to adopt the RTI approach?
Page 9: Gain a School-Wide Commitment
The planning team has created an action plan for RTI and has explored funding sources. The last part of this stage of the change cycle involves the team’s obtaining a commitment for active support and participation from a significant portion of the school staff. The purpose of acquiring this commitment is to create common goals and to motivate staff to actively participate in achieving these goals.
To effectively implement a new approach or strategy, it is important to obtain teacher support:
- If teachers believe an approach will not be effective, even if it is based on research, they are less likely to implement it well.
- Teachers are less likely to implement an approach with fidelity if it is inconsistent with their teaching styles.
(Gresham, MacMillan, Beebe-Frankenberger, & Bocian, 2000)
When the Mayflower Elementary planning team explores other schools’ methods for implementing RTI, it learns of various communication approaches (like those listed below) it can employ to promote commitments from staff:
- Informal conversations between planning-team members and colleagues
- Discussions at staff meetings
The Mayflower Elementary planning team uses some of these approaches to introduce RTI to colleagues. While gathering information for the survey and working on the action plan, the members discuss the RTI approach informally with their colleagues. In addition, at staff meetings they engage in more formal discussions about their current level of student achievement, the need to improve student performance, and the ways in which RTI could help them do this. The planning team also schedules times for interested faculty to visit Rosa Parks to observe teachers implementing RTI.
Once the planning team has laid the foundation and feels it has the support of a significant portion of the staff, Mr. Irwin and the planning team give a presentation in which they review the benefits of implementing the RTI approach and how it would impact Mayflower Elementary. (In the week leading up to this meeting, Mr. Irwin explained to the staff that the purpose of the meeting would be to present more specific information about RTI and to discuss whether or not Mayflower Elementary should adopt this approach.)
RTI Staff Presentation
- Mandated student achievement goals:
- NCLB mandates that all children must be reading at grade level by the time they are in the third grade. Will our school meet this national goal?
- Will our school meet AYP?
- Current student achievement:
- Are students currently achieving at satisfactory levels?
- Will student achievement improve if we continue using our current approach?
- RTI overview
- Benefits of RTI for students, teachers, and the school:
- List of benefits for Mayflower Elementary
- Rosa Parks Elementary teachers’ testimonials
- List of benefits for Mayflower Elementary
- Expectations for teachers:
- Use data-based decision making
- Use a multitiered intervention model
- Use research-validated instructional practices
- Commit to long-term participation (3–6 years)
During the presentation, Mr. Irwin and the planning team field questions from the staff and provide as much information as they can. At the end of the meeting, Mr. Irwin asks the staff to consider supporting the RTI approach at Mayflower Elementary. He conducts an anonymous survey with staff to determine teachers’ attitudes toward this new initiative. After reviewing the survey results, Mr. Irwin and the planning team are excited that a majority of the staff supports adopting the RTI approach.
For Your Information
- When presenting RTI to staff members, principals may want to emphasize how the approach aligns with existing district initiatives and school activities (e.g., curriculum adoption).
- Principals should emphasize that RTI is a school-wide effort. One of its primary purposes is to provide high-quality instruction to all students. This instruction occurs in the general education classroom and will meet the needs of 75–80% of students.
- Principals and key individuals will need to consider how to proceed if a significant commitment does not exist among the staff. For example, teachers who support the approach may begin implementing the RTI components without the entire school’s participation. Then, as other teachers observe the positive impact of RTI on students, their support for RTI may grow.
Listen as Principal Brian Miller shares his experiences with gaining teacher commitments (time: 0:31).
Brian Miller, Principal
Jefferson Elementary School
Many schools are different in terms of size, demographics, resources, and students’ needs. When introducing a new approach or strategy to their schools, principals must keep such factors in mind and must consider how this change will impact the students, the teachers, and the school in general. Think about your school’s specific needs, and develop a list of selling points that will persuade the teachers at your school to support the implementation of the RTI approach.