What other considerations should Mr. Brewster and the other school professionals be aware of when implementing RTI?
Page 11: Troubleshooting
As a school begins to implement RTI, a few common questions tend to arise. Although staff members may know and plan ahead for some of these questions, other questions may require on-the-spot problem-solving as they occur. A few issues that the S-Team at Rosa Parks had to contend with are presented below with some considerations for making decisions.
The questions below are arranged by topic. Please note that there are no right or wrong answers. Rather, the answers are context-specific, meaning they must be determined within the context of the particular students’ needs in the particular classroom and school.
How can schools administer screenings to the entire student body (e.g., 1000 students) in a week?
Typically, a number of individuals in a school administer universal screening measures. For instance, at Rosa Parks, each teacher is responsible for conducting the screenings for his or her students. At other schools, paraprofessionals, reading coaches, testing coordinators, and special education teachers may help with this task.
|General education teachers||
|Special education teachers||
What should a teacher do if a large percentage of students do not meet the criteria on the universal screening and do not show adequate growth on the progress monitoring data collected in Tier 1?
Tier 1 instruction should meet the needs of at least 75–80% of students. If this is not the case, then the core instruction in Tier 1 and the instructional strategies should be examined to determine how to make them effective for more students.
How can a teacher administer progress monitoring probes to all the students in his or her classroom effectively, without consuming too much instructional time?
A teacher does not have to progress monitor all students in one day. In fact, it is recommended that teachers conduct the assessments throughout the week. To provide a more accurate picture of the students’ progress, it is important that students are assessed at a consistent interval (e.g., every seven days). Therefore, the teacher should assess the same students on the same day each week (e.g., students who are assessed on Monday one week should continue to be assessed on Mondays).
If a school does not have a Tier 2 interventionist, how can a classroom teacher provide Tier 2 services within the general education classroom?
If the general education teacher is responsible for providing Tier 2 intervention to students, he or she will need to build in approximately 30 minutes of supplemental instruction every day for those students who did not respond adequately to Tier 1 instruction. The teacher will provide the supplemental intervention in a small-group format (3–5 students). Though the students will most likely be from the teacher’s own classroom, teachers at the same grade level can also try cross-classroom grouping to better meet students’ needs and to create more homogeneous small groups. If the latter option is the case, each grade level will need to designate a 30-minute “intervention time” for their Tier 2 instruction.
While the general education teacher is providing Tier 2 intervention, the other students in the class should be receiving instruction through one of the following instructional methods:
- Partner reading
- Silent reading
- Center work (either in reading or in other areas like math or science)
- Independent work (either in reading or in other areas like math or science)
Creating meaningful activities and an appropriate work environment for students to accomplish tasks successfully will take planning and strong classroom management. A paraprofessional, if available, might assist with monitoring and assisting the students during the intervention time.
What should teachers do when field trips, assemblies, and holiday breaks disrupt the regularly scheduled intervention and assessment routine?
Although unforeseen disruptions to the schedule are sure to occur, having a plan in place for dealing with them will help teachers to organize instruction and be as efficient as possible. For example, at Rosa Parks, all second-grade students went on a full-day field trip in the fall. This disrupted the intervention and assessment schedules that the teachers had been following. Rather than abstaining from all field trips, the S-Team decided that they needed to plan ahead for such interruptions. Possible solutions for rescheduling interventions and assessments include:
- Providing the intervention twice on one day to make up for a missed intervention
- Planning alternate intervention times
- Having paraprofessionals, the testing coordinator, or the coach help conduct the assessments
Will students who enter the school in the middle of a semester be eligible to receive Tier 2 intervention if they fail to meet the criteria, or will they have to wait until the next screening?
It is a good idea to administer a universal screening measure and some initial progress monitoring probes to any new student. These assessments give the teacher baseline data to inform the instruction that he or she will provide to the new student. Knowing whether to use these data to place a student in Tier 2 intervention in the middle of a semester is more complicated. Some questions to think about in making this decision include:
- How many weeks of the intervention remain before the next universal screening?
- Based on the universal screening results, progress monitoring data, and other information that the teacher has collected, what are the student’s specific needs? Can these be met through Tier 1 instruction or will Tier 2 intervention be necessary?
- How similar are the student’s needs to those of other students in the Tier 2 intervention?
- Do the school’s resources allow for such support to be provided to the student at this time? (Or, will another student be forced to stop intervention prematurely to allow this new student to receive the intervention?)
- Does the program’s format allow students to be placed into intervention mid-semester, or will it be difficult to transition a student into a group that has already been working in the program for several weeks?
What if the number of students identified for Tier 2 intervention exceeds the number to whom intervention can be provided?
Assuming that Tier 1 instruction meets the needs of at least 75–80% of students but school resources are only adequate to provide support to a portion of the identified students (e.g., 12%), the following suggestions may offer guidance:
- Examine Tier 1 instructional practices and improve weak areas to meet more students’ needs with the core reading program.
- Examine individual students’ needs to support teachers in providing more effective differentiated instruction during Tier 1.
- After collecting screening and progress monitoring data, compile student data for each grade level to compare student scores and progress, to make decisions about students most in need of Tier 2 intervention.
Is Tier 3 always special education?
Some schools choose to provide individualized, intensive intervention (i.e., Tier 3) through the general education program, whereas others define Tier 3 as special education. In cases in which Tier 3 is provided through the general education program, the intervention is delivered by a qualified instructor, such as a reading specialist.
Can the special education teacher provide Tier 3 intervention for those students who have not been identified as having a learning disability?
Schools are required to spend the funds they receive to provide special education services on students with identified disabilities. This precludes special education teachers from providing services to general education students.
RTI in General
How does RTI fit in with Reading First?
RTI and Reading First are similar in that both require the following:
- Universal screening
- High-quality instruction
- On-going progress monitoring (at least once every one to two weeks with struggling readers)
- Tiered intervention, provided at increasingly intense levels
- Professional development in and support for teachers with research-based practices to meet all students’ needs
Reading First in Tennessee
Listen as James Herman describes components of Reading First that are similar to the components in the RTI approach (time: 0:38).
What should happen if the Tier 2 or Tier 3 instructor is absent?
Depending on the school’s resources, in the early stages of implementing the RTI approach, several substitute teachers may be identified as individuals who should receive RTI training. If the school’s resources allow for this, the principal should call these substitutes first before going to the district’s substitute pool. Doing so will help ensure that the substitute intervention provider has some minimal knowledge of the intervention being used and that the students’ supplemental instruction is not disrupted.
What should teachers do if parents are opposed to their child’s receiving supplemental intervention?
Many parents worry about the labels associated with and the stigma attached to any type of supplemental intervention their child might receive, especially if that child must leave the room or receive instruction from someone other than the general education teacher. Such concern legitimates their need to understand the purpose behind these interventions, the flexibility of the instruction, the use of assessment data to pinpoint student needs, and the integral part these items play in meeting students’ needs. Once parents understand that the additional support provided by RTI is an attempt to prevent such immediate labels and to more accurately and reliably identify students for whom this label is necessary, they are more likely to be supportive.