Our school started to tackle Response to Intervention (RtI) this year. As the RtI coordinator I started the year with a very basic understanding of RtI. Trying to find a way to make it work well at out school site has taken a lot of communication, trial and error, and some more communication...and we still have several kinks to work out. It seems like many schools are ahead of us in this figuring-it-out process, and it also seems like RtI looks completely different from school-to-school, district-to-district.
The teachers and staff have been more than gracious in this learning process, and have often given really constructive feedback on how RtI can work better for them, their students, and the school. At the beginning of the year, we added a whole lot of paperwork and meetings to teachers workload, and that wasn't sustainable (or even necessary). After looking at RtI models at other schools, we decided to weave RtI paperwork, meetings, and consultations, into our staff time weekly. This seems to work out well, but again, I think our RtI team needs to make sure we communicate more so teachers understand how to use this 30 minute time slot weekly. Teachers still seem a little unsure of the RtI process, and that is partly due to lack of communication. So that's the goal for next year- communicate! communicate! communicate!
Personally, I really like the idea of RtI and I think, once we have everything smoothed out, it will make us a lot more efficient and effective with our intervention services. I already see that teachers are responding to assessment and regrouping students or creating new groups, if necessary. Many of our teachers were doing this already, but now there is more of a process to recognize and track all the effort they were putting into differentiating work for their students. And having this support documented will help students and their teachers as they move from class to class, and grade to grade.
It also feels like student intervention placements are more meaningful now, we base placements on several data points, along with teacher/parent recommendations, rather than just using one data point at the beginning of the year. When students made progress in their reading, then can exit intervention. Before RtI, we didn't have intervention as systematized. Many students were unmotivated to make progress because regardless of their growth they remained in intervention for the entire year. Kids are now encouraged (especially 4th and 5th graders) to improve their reading- because they will be exited out of intervention when they reach their reading goals. Exiting intervention is the perfect incentive for many older readers.
One major component of RtI is progress monitoring- or assessing students' progress at frequent intervals. In addition to benchmark tests, the state test, and informal assessing, our teachers do the DRA (Diagnostic Reading Assessments) a couple of times a year on each of their students (a lot of assessing!!!). The DRA gives the teacher a complete picture of a student's reading abilities, and helps him/her to focus his/her instruction to meet each student's needs.
I really liked this video from Reading Rockets on progress monitoring. It explains how often students should be assessed. This video makes is quite clear on how often progress monitoring to be done. We still need to systematize progress monitoring at out school...that will be one more part of RtI that we need to hash out. Maybe next year? Maybe later down the road? We shall see...
I'd love to hear any of your insights into RtI. What makes RtI work well at your school/district? What would you change about RtI at your school?
I've learned the most about RtI through collaboration with other teachers that have tried RtI at their school sites. I'm eager to hear any of your thoughts and ideas, so that we can make this process even more meaningful for teacher, students, interventionists, and families at my school.
Hi friends! This blog is for teachers and families- all for the sheer joy of literacy. When we are enthusiastic about reading and writing our students and our own kids become excited to read and write. I hope that we all can be models for those in our care- how did you show your passion for reading, writing, learning, language, or words today?? It's in those small, daily moments that we teach kids to love literacy.