Source
Administrator Magazine
Scholastic Administrator is a must-read resource for 240,000 of today's results-driven school leaders. Every issue features leadership for education executives, insight and analysis into what's next in education, and reporting on cutting-edge technologies in real life applications.

.edu: RTI Demystified

Bolster your program by expanding into middle schools and including more ELL students.

September/October 2009

implementing a response to Intervention plan is challenging. It calls for a delicate mix of identifying possible student learning disabilities, correctly interpreting student achievement data, and creating an individual learning plan—and then monitoring it all to make sure it works. And this process must be repeated for each student. So while the gains from RTI programs can be dramatic, the work can be taxing.

It’s no wonder districts are careful when they set out to expand these programs, hoping to avoid false steps. In this question-and-answer article, we asked Dr. Barbara A. Marinak, assistant professor at Penn State Harrisburg; Susan A. Mazzoni, an independent literacy consultant; and Dr. Linda B. Gambrell, professor of education at Clemson University in South Carolina, about how to combat the challenges of implementing RTI in middle schools, how to best serve ELL students in RTI programs, and how to plan effective professional development for educators.  

Q: Many districts have RTI programs for elementary students, but how can districts expand these programs into middle schools?
Barbara A. Marinak: Though there are several aspects of secondary education that make RTI more challenging, intervening effectively with adolescents is critical. In most models of RTI, Tier 1 is core reading instruction. Middle schools must decide how long core reading will be offered to all students.

Other challenges of RTI in the secondary grades include scheduling and differentiation. Intervention should always take place in addition to core reading, and the school day for most adolescents is pretty busy. Creative scheduling and making hard decisions about electives is often needed to free up periods for reading support. In addition, given the complex nature of struggling readers in the secondary grades, effective intervention should include differentiated options—for example, decoding support, comprehension support, etc.

Q: Some schools in our district are linguistically diverse; how can I make sure ELLs who may need RTI get equal and effective attention?
Marinak: RTI has the potential to effect change for English-language learners by requiring the use of research-based practices based on children’s specific needs. However, all ELLs need culturally and linguistically appropriate instruction no matter the educational setting. Instruction and interventions must consider a student’s cultural background as well as their linguistic proficiency—in both English and the native language.

To make sure the special needs of ELLs are met, an ESL teacher should be a regular member of the curriculum committee that plans core reading instruction as well as a member of the RTI team. It is this critical member of the RTI team that can provide information about first- and second-language acquisition, culturally responsive pedagogy, and differentiation of cultural and linguistic differences from disabilities.

Q: Some students’ parents are eager to get more involved. Are there any RTI models in place that incorporate more engaged learning in the home?
Linda B. Gambrell: All models should regularly involve parents. Tier 1 of RTI is effective core classroom instruction with regular reporting to parents. Therefore, when a child begins to struggle in core, parents should be informed (with specific data and examples) and included in the intervention decision. 

Once support begins, the RTI team should thoroughly explain the intervention and demonstrate how parents can help. However, in their efforts to involve parents, the classroom teacher and interventionist should be careful not to overwhelm families. Home support might include comfortable guided practice such as rereading familiar books, sight-word review, silent reading practice, etc.

Q: We’ve just begun implementing RTI, but our school is seriously understaffed. How can we make sure our teachers—who already carry heavy workloads—aren’t completely swamped?
Susan A. Mazzoni: RTI doesn’t necessarily involve adding more to a teacher’s workload. Instead, RTI may involve changes to instructional practice.

In fact, some schools have been doing RTI for years without the RTI label. Teachers will be asked to reflect on their data, and such reflection may result in replacing less effective methods with instruction that better meets the needs of their students. In doing so, teachers may need to let go of some traditional practices. And such ‘giving up’ can be challenging.

It is helpful for the RTI team to begin discussing and evaluating current assessment and instructional practices. Instead of adding more, think about what can be done differently and more effectively to address the ongoing strengths and needs of students.

Also, research suggests that intervention should be in addition to—never in lieu of—core reading instruction. The only way to avoid teachers being swamped by the demands of RTI is for districts to commit to interventionists. In other words, teachers should have a partner in this process. Reading specialists should be available to provide intensive intervention for students in your classroom who are showing signs of difficulty despite excellent core instruction.

Q: What kind of professional development can be linked to RTI? Our staff needs substantial training.
Marinak: There are actually studies indicating that critically reading intervention manuals can help teachers become familiar with new instructional methods. This research suggests that teacher’s manuals can act as a “guide on the side”—providing vignettes of complex instructional language.Such tools should always be viewed as suggestions. Nothing can replace the professional decision-making of a highly qualified teacher and/or reading specialist.

In addition, the professional development needed for effective RTI might be viewed as a nomadic journey—it is always moving but never arriving. In other words, RTI professional development should be intensive, ongoing, and housed within professional learning communities. The most effective development of course takes place when teams
collaborate and come together to analyze data, share knowledge and resources, and plan interventions.    

  • Teacher Store
  • The Teacher Store  
    The Complete Year in Reading and Writing: Kindergarten

    The Complete Year in Reading and Writing: Kindergarten

    by Pam Allyn


    View Sample Pages



    Provides a detailed curricular calendar that's tied to a developmental continuum and the standards so you'll know not only what you should be teaching, but what your students are ready to embrace and what you can reasonably expect of them as successful readers and writers. Additionally, you'll find monthly units of study that integrate reading and writing so both work together to provide maximum support for your students. The units are organized around four essential components, process, genre, strategy, and conventions, so you're reassured you're addressing everything your students need to know about reading and writing. What's more you'll find ready-to-use lessons that offer exemplary teaching and continuous assessment, and a flexible framework that shows you how to frame a year of teaching, a unit, and a lesson—and you can easily adapt all to fit the unique needs and interests of your own students. 240 pages DVD (17 minutes) & fold-out color year-long planner .

    Click here to learn more about Scholastic Professional


    You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader® software, version 4.0 or higher, to view and print the sample page above. Get Adobe Reader® for FREE.

    $19.49 You save: 25%
    Professional Book | Grade K
    Add To Cart
    Educators Only
    The Complete Year in Reading and Writing: Kindergarten
    Grade K $19.49
    Add To Cart
  • Teacher Store
  • The Teacher Store  
    The Complete Year in Reading and Writing: Grade 5

    The Complete Year in Reading and Writing: Grade 5

    by Pam Allyn Laurie Pastore


    View Sample Pages



    Provides a detailed curricular calendar that's tied to a developmental continuum and the standards so you'll know not only what you should be teaching, but what your students are ready to embrace and what you can reasonably expect of them as successful readers and writers. Additionally, you'll find monthly units of study that integrate reading and writing so both work together to provide maximum support for your students. The units are organized around four essential components, process, genre, strategy, and conventions, so you're reassured you're addressing everything your students need to know about reading and writing. What's more you'll find ready-to-use lessons that offer exemplary teaching and continuous assessment, and a flexible framework that shows you how to frame a year of teaching, a unit, and a lesson—and you can easily adapt all to fit the unique needs and interests of your own students. 240 pages + DVD (17 minutes) & fold-out color year-long planner .

    Click here to learn more about Scholastic Professional


    You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader® software, version 4.0 or higher, to view and print the sample page above. Get Adobe Reader® for FREE.

    $6.50 You save: 75%
    Professional Book | Grade 5
    Add To Cart
    Educators Only
    The Complete Year in Reading and Writing: Grade 5
    Grade 5 $6.50
    Add To Cart
Help | Privacy Policy
EMAIL THIS

* YOUR NAME

* YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS

* RECIPIENT'S EMAIL ADDRESS(ES)

(Separate multiple email addresses with commas)

Check this box to send yourself a copy of the email.

INCLUDE A PERSONAL MESSAGE (Optional)


Scholastic respects your privacy. We do not retain or distribute lists of email addresses.