RTI (Response to Intervention, a federally mandated program) is a plan for the early identification of students who might have difficulty learning and for providing the necessary intervention to prevent them from failing. (Cooper, Robinson, Kiger, Success With RTI)
RTI is generally looked at as a three-tiered model:
• Tier 1 Intervention is the quality instruction you provide to all students every day. Students are assessed periodically to establish where they are both academically and behaviorally. This allows you to identify at-risk students who may benefit from supplemental instruction. If a student doesn’t make the expected progress with Tier 1 intervention, he or she will receive the appropriate extra help and possibly move to Tier 2.
• Tier 2 Intervention provides more rigorous instruction based on a student’s level of performance, and is designed to help the student advance by providing the appropriate support to increase the rate of that student's progress. In the younger grades, much of this intervention is focused on reading and math. If a student who receives Tier 2 assistance doesn’t make the expected progress within a grading period, that student is moved to Tier 3.
• Tier 3 Intervention: At this point, students are given a comprehensive evaluation and an individualized support plan is created and implemented. The student's progress is monitored in order to ensure that he or she is improving and achieving academically and/or behaviorally.
So…is RTI a new concept?
Actually, no. Brenda Weaver, author of RTI: Assessments & Remediation for K-2, explains in her book:
Response to Intervention, or RTI, may seem like a new concept, but in reality effective teachers have always used this approach in their teaching. That is, when students are taught a specific concept, skill, or strategy, teachers assess whether it has been learned. Based on the assessment results, teachers reteach students who need additional instruction by selecting a different method, material, or technique. If one or more students continue to struggle, the teacher might ask a colleague or reading professional for other ideas. After working with students for a period of time with this alternate instruction, teachers reassess them. Hopefully, students succeed and continue their work in the classroom. Those who require more intensive support after these classroom interventions are referred to outside specialists for more extensive instruction and testing.
The RTI model seeks to formalize this sequence of teach-assess-intervene, and it has gained significance as a result of the Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA 2004). This federal regulation concerning the placement of students into special education encourages the development of RTI programs in schools to better evaluate students before identifying them as learning disabled. Prior to this 2004 regulation, students could only be identified as learning disabled if there was a discrepancy between the student’s ability and academic progress, which was typically identified after extensive testing by outside specialists, such as the reading teacher and the school psychologist. This new regulation impacts classroom teachers in their daily instruction because it asks them to more formally monitor and document students’ progress.
Included in the book are a detailed description of RTI; tips for balancing curriculum, state standards, and state assessments for effective literacy instruction; and factors that influence literacy development. Weaver's text also offers detailed assessments from the grade level standpoint (12-, 24, and 26-week assessments for each grade: K, 1, and 2), and from the curriculum standpoint (interventions for print conventions, word recognition development, comprehension, and writing). All of this—along with reproducible record-keeping forms and ten assessment mini-books—puts the tools you need to provide targeted support at your fingertips!
How do you balance RTI with your core instruction?
Another key to success with RTI is to identify areas of improvement that might be needed in your core reading instruction. This can be a daunting task for some educators, and many of you may be asking the same questions:
What is RTI?
Where do I get the materials to provide RTI instruction?
How is this intervention different from what I am already doing for my struggling students?
Who is responsible for creating and implementing the RTI plans?
How can I find time to do more than what I am currently doing?
In their book for teachers of grades K-5, Success With RTI, authors J. David Cooper, Michael Robinson, and Nancy Kiger, have taken on these questions, and the frustrated educators who are asking them. The book's foreward by Lori Oczkus says it all:
This is the foundational RTI book we’ve all been waiting for. In a sea of questions and difficult issues surrounding the topic of RTI, J. David Cooper, Michael Robinson, and Nancy Kiger throw a lifeline to keep us afloat with practical next steps on our journey to meeting student needs.
The text begins by providing instructional assessment forms to help YOU get off on the right foot with RTI—by first reviewing your core reading instruction. The authors write:
The heart of the entire RTI process is having good core instruction. Looking at core instruction is the starting point for creating successful RTI plans….[in this book] we help you examine the issues related to making good core instruction work with RTI.
From ways to manage your time (so you can effectively assess and identify student needs on the small group and individual student level), to monitoring student progress (without giving too many tests), to successfully managing core instruction and intervention in your classroom, to "tiers without tears"—and everything in between, Success With RTI might just become your RTI management bible.
A look at the authors:
Brenda Weaver is the author of RTI: Assessments & Remediation for K-2. Brenda M. Weaver is a Reading Coach for the Marion County Schools, Florida and a Literacy Educational Consultant. She is a former Assistant Professor of Education for Cazenovia College, Cazenovia, New York and K-5 Language Arts/Social Studies Curriculum Coordinator for the Skaneateles Central Schools in Skaneateles, New York. She has been a classroom teacher, reading teacher, reading diagnostician, assistant principal and principal. She has published articles and books on the topic of literacy and leveling books. She also writes children's books. As a literacy consultant she traveled throughout the United States and Europe.
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Success With RTI, written by J. David Cooper, Michael Robinson, and Nancy Kiger.
J. David Cooper is a literacy consultant living in Coconut Grove, Florida. He was formerly professor and Director of Reading at Ball State University in Indiana. Prior to teaching at the college level, he taught elementary and secondary school. He is the author of Literacy: Helping Children Construct Meaning, Sixth Edition, and coauthor, with Nancy D. Kiger, of Literacy Assessment: Helping Teachers Plan Instruction, Second Edition.
Nancy D. Kiger taught reading, language arts, and children's literature—and supervised student teachers—at the University of Central Florida. She was also a writer and editor for several educational publishers. With J. David Cooper, she coauthored Literacy Assessment: Helping Teachers Plan Instruction, Second Edition.
Michael D. Robinson is currently a Curriculum Support Specialist in Curriculum & Instruction, Language Arts/Reading for Miami-Dade County Public Schools in Miami, Florida. Previously, he worked as a Title I Coordinator in Marion Community Schools, Marion, Indiana, where he developed programming for low-performing elementary students.