Social Justice – Success for Every Student

We must explicitly eradicate racism, injustice, privilege, and inequity. 

I am proud to say that my district is taking additional steps right now, building upon our positive, but frankly more indirect commitments to guaranteeing access and success for every student.

Explicit efforts must address systems.

There are systems of culture that we must explicitly and positively shift.

And, there are systems of support (PLC, RTI, MTSS) that we must re-energize to ensure that every single student is cared for and guided toward success.

In the absence of a culture that takes the success of every student personally, collaborative systems of support will not be successful. When the attitude of schools is that high levels of learning is an inevitability, nothing is impossible. In the absence of these cultures, we do not recommend that you bother expending the psychological and fiscal energies to develop the principles and practices described.

Culture and ownership are inextricably linked. When staffs, students, and all other stakeholders feel intimately connected to this most important work, we will succeed. When these stakeholders have an authentic voice, cultures of commitment and collective responsibility will prevail.

In our practice, we have implemented both sustaining and disruptive innovations (Christensen, 2003). We accept that we must have revolutionary goals, also known Big Hairy Audacious Goals (Collins, 2001), that are introduced and implemented in a more evolutionary manner. But we will be patiently persistent, challenging the status quo, always striving to improve.

One of the most significant obstacles to progress is the idea of seat time and the ways in which time is allocated within traditional daily schedules. If we continue to view whole group instruction, and not smaller group and more targeted supports, as the only time during which legitimate teaching (and hopefully, learning) is taking place, we will not fulfill the promise of core, more, and highly-specific supports. 

As in most states, in the state of California in the US, home of 1 in 8 US students, students in grades 9-12 are required to sit in classes for specific amounts of time (64,800 minutes a year or 360 minutes a day). These time constraints can inhibit schools’ abilities to customize learning experiences for students within a collaborative system of supports. Other US states, such as Michigan and New Hampshire, are loosening these constraints, in the interest of better preparing students for college and career.

The amount of yearly time devoted to core instruction within secondary schools is 64,800 minutes within an 180 day school year; however, only half of the those minutes are dedicated to core support, with the other half dedicated to more and highly-specific supports. In the past, policy officials have indicated that more and highly-specific supports do not count as seat-time, and yet they are most definitely connected to both curricular priorities and readiness for careers. Until we break through the status quo regarding topics such as seat time, our abilities to truly transform teaching and learning and students’ educational experiences will be greatly constrained. 

We often hear educators express concerns about the amount of time it will take to manage students’ personalized learning plans, both for vulnerable students receiving specific supports that address deficits in foundational skills and for students engaged in highly-specific supports that allow them to pursue their passions. While we can and must do a better job of formatively assessing, and providing feedback to students, regarding progress, educators need not be the only stakeholder who assumes this responsibility, and the practice need not be extremely time-intensive.

Student self-assessment is an effective practice in which schools can engage (Hattie, 2009, 2012). We will be wise to increasingly involve students in reflecting upon and developing improvement plans for their learning. Students’ peers should also be partners in the continuous improvement process. Lastly, we must re-examine educators’ roles in grading; we don’t need to have all the answers; instead, we should partner with students to ask the right questions that promote both learning and increased student ownership.

A critical element of school culture, and a common concern we hear expressed by our colleagues, is how our most vulnerable students and their parents will feel when we “single them out” with intensive interventions. Our antidotes to these legitimate concerns are:

  • Be honest with students about their current status and their chances for success in careers and to be future ready in the absence of targeted supports.
  • Involve students in their learning path; we need not and should not dictate terms to students; we must insist on the supports that will best serve students, with their authentic input.
  • Prioritize relationships. Students who feel successful in schools are almost always connected to a course and staff member, at least in part because they have experienced success in that staff member’s course. Illiteracy, innumeracy, and a lack of pro-social and pro-functional skills will condemn a student to a frustrating adult life, so we must advocate fiercely for the supports that will ameliorate these deficits. When we demonstrate repeatedly and powerfully that we believe in them and will partner with them to ensure progress, connectivity to school will increase. Relationships matter and are a research-based “intervention” (Brophy, 1985; Crosnoe, Johnson, & Elder, 2004; Hamre, & Pianta, 2001; Lynch, & Cicchetti, 1997; Midgley, Feldlaufer, & Eccles, 1989; Hattie, 2009). 

The goals and focus of collaborative teams should be universal and clear – to ensure that all students gain deeper mastery of the outcomes that the teachers, school, and communities most value. The specific pathways may change, but the goals and focus must not. Let’s not allow perfection to be the enemy of progress as we establish cultures of innovation and provide exceptional service to students in our schools.

We close with a quote:

How many effective schools would you have to see to be persuaded of the educability of all children? If your answer is more than one, then I submit that you have reasons of your own for preferring to believe that basic pupil performance derives from family background instead of school response to family background. We can, whenever & wherever we choose, successfully teach all children whose schooling is of interest to us; we already know more than we need to do that; whether or not we do it must finally depend on how we feel about the fact that we haven’t so far.

Edmonds, 1979, p. 23

We can and must transform our schools and we know what to do; we must commit, once and for all, to closing the knowing-doing gap.

School teams are ready but are too often frustrated by a lack a clarity on desired outcomes and a lack of direction on the processes and resources that must guide the work. We hope we have provided clarity, processes, and resources, but more importantly, we hope we have clarified the outcomes for which teams must strive: We must commit to making intentional changes to our practices so that all students develop the skills to succeed in careers and life.

We firmly believe, and research validates, that collaborative systems of support offer the most promising whole-school, comprehensive approach for educators and students to reach their full potential. We firmly believe that a system of core, more, and highly-specialized supports for all students is the most promising and practical manner in which to proceed. 

We acknowledge that this represents a fairly ambitious model of personalized teaching and learning within a traditional environment. And yet, you need not begin with highly-specialized supports for all; start with these supports for our most vulnerable students. 

We want to contribute to a revolution in teaching and learning, and know that students need and deserve a transformed and transformative educational experience. We also appreciate and recognize that we need to proceed in an evolutionary manner.

Schools are seeking guidance and supports in addressing systems of support and culture. The search is over.

In these unprecedented times, our students need our best and we need the best tools to serve them. 

Mr. Elmer’s Intervention Compass is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Intervention Compass can help:

  • The universal screening of mindsets is available within Intervention Compass.
  • Data from these screeners can be organized and analyzed within Intervention Compass’ Data Walls.
  • Research-based strategies, found within Intervention Compass’ Intervention Library, can be used to promote more positive mindsets.
  • Students’ mindset needs and staff response to these needs can be documented within Intervention Compass’ notes section.
  • Progress monitoring can be scheduled, administered, and data plotted within Intervention Compass’ assessment support system.

We can be prepared to meet students’ behavioral needs. We must. Mr. Elmer is the best solution to help us in this critical work.

The Remediation Plan for When We Return – In Summary

All schools are, or should be, planning for what to do for all students when schools re-open, presumably (and hopefully) in the Fall, for the 20-21 school year. My schools are planning, and I believe that all schools should be planning, for supports that all students will need and the supports that the most vulnerable students will need.

The most vulnerable will be even more vulnerable…

As we return to school this Fall, this formula will be more important than ever:

Time + Support = Learning

From the worlds of PLC and RTI, this classic formula has always been a game changer. Historically and tragically, we have held the amount of time a student is provided to learn and the types of supports that students receive constant; predictably but tragically, in this situation, learning is wildly variable.

High levels of learning must be the constant for all students. For this to be a reality, we must proactively plan to make time and support variable, varied depending upon the evidence we gather related to student needs.

Among the most critical goals within my school district are increased rigor, differentiation, and expectations. These areas of focus have led us to develop another formula, to serve as a complement to Time + Support = Learning. The formula is:

More Access + More Rigor + More Supports = More Future Opportunities for All

Let’s dig a little more deeply into each term of this formula.

More Access

Access is what high expectations for all looks like. By access, we mean that there is an intentional, proactive commitment to all students being in college preparatory classes or above, whether the student has special needs, is an English learner, or has differences in readiness levels that will make scaffolds and differentiated supports a must. And by access, we don’t simply mean offering the chance for students to take these courses; we mean that we strongly encourage students to enroll.

More Rigor 

Access is not enough. Increasing access into watered down classes (with lower rigor levels because we’re now letting those students in) defeats the purpose. But rigor doesn’t mean difficulty. Rigor means that students are struggling (and are given the opportunity to struggle) with tasks of cognitive complexity for which there is more than one solution and/or possible approach. Rigor doesn’t mean more assignments, or covering more content, or reading longer texts or solving math problems that have bigger numbers. Rigor means students are collaborating with one another, that they’re engaged in academic discourse, that they’re thinking critically, problem solving, and modeling and applying using the tools of the discipline. And therefore, rigor takes time. Rigor requires a focus on depth of mastery of prioritized content instead of a shallow coverage of all possible content.

More Supports 

Whether a student has special learning needs or not; whether a student has lower readiness for a given course or not; proactive and positive supports are necessary to ensure that all students master the prioritized concepts and skills of a course. By supports we mean differentiated instruction within Tier 1 and Tier 2 buffer supports (more time and alternative teaching and learning strategies when first, best instruction is not sufficient). By supports, we mean that learning will be the constant – the expectation – for all; we’ll adjust time and types of supports for this to be a reality.

More Future Opportunities for All

Our goal is not simply that 100% of students (ALL students) graduate from high school. We are committed to every student graduating from high school ready for college or a skilled career. Here’s the California scenario. To apply to University of California or California State University schools, students need to meet grade and course requirements in seven categories that are more demanding than most district’s graduation requirements. Our goal is that every student meets these entry requirements. Or, given that community college is the best option for a student, we want to make sure that our students who matriculate to community colleges can take transfer-eligible courses (courses that put them on the path to transferring to a four-year university) right away, without taking remedial courses. Presently, approximately two-fifths of students enrolling in community college must take remedial courses in mathematics and/or English before taking transfer eligible courses. Or, students do not choose to attend university of college, instead pursuing a skilled career. But we know that the demands of a skilled career are now equivalent to the demands of university, in terms of reading and numeracy skills, problem solving skills, and habits of mind. We want every single student to have options, possibilities, opportunities. One last word about all; students are in the all category if they are expected to live an independent adult life, without accommodated rent or modified jobs. This means that the vast majority of students with IEPs are in the all category.

I’m honored and lucky to work in one of the very best school districts in the country. Incredibly high levels of students graduate ready for college and/or a skilled career. And yet there are too many (and one would be too many) students who we do not yet serve well enough. More access, rigor, and supports can lead to all students leaving K-12 with unlimited possibilities, options, and opportunities. We can and must do even better than we already are.

So many schools are seeking guidance and supports in addressing scenarios such as these. The search is over.

In these unprecedented times, our students need our best and we need the best tools to serve them. Mr. Elmer’s Intervention Compass is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Intervention Compass can help:

  • The universal screening of mindsets is available within Intervention Compass.
  • Data from these screeners can be organized and analyzed within Intervention Compass’ Data Walls.
  • Research-based strategies, found within Intervention Compass’ Intervention Library, can be used to promote more positive mindsets.
  • Students’ mindset needs and staff response to these needs can be documented within Intervention Compass’ notes section.
  • Progress monitoring can be scheduled, administered, and data plotted within Intervention Compass’ assessment support system.

We can be prepared to meet students’ behavioral needs. We must. Mr. Elmer is the best solution to help us in this critical work.

The Remediation Plan for When We Return – Rededicating to RTI-MTSS

All schools are, or should be, planning for what to do for all students when schools re-open, presumably (and hopefully) in the Fall, for the 20-21 school year. My schools are planning, and I believe that all schools should be planning, for supports that all students will need and the supports that the most vulnerable students will need.

We must plan to provided ongoing Tier 2 and 3 supports throughout the year. Of course, we have always done this, but it’s possible that students with vulnerabilities will need our timely, targeted, and intensive supports more than ever. Let’s ensure that our RTI/MTSS plans, for both academic and behavioral needs, ensure proactive and impactful supports for students.

Let’s consider a scenario that occurs every year. In past years, we have attempted to prepare for scenarios such as these before the school year. We must triple our efforts for the coming year:

Suppose there is a student about to be in grade 7 for whom there are reading concerns. These concerns are known in a timely and efficient manner through universal screening; we both examined assessment data that we gathered on all students (through regularly administered state [or province], district, or school tests) and systematically gathered input from teachers at the conclusion of the school year so that we had the information needed to proactively support students at the very beginning of the next school year. Let’s say this particular student scored in the fourth percentile on regular administered districtwide reading tests. We do not yet know why, but there is something amiss, and we intend to do something about it. Moreover, this year’s team of sixth-grade teachers notes that this student has difficulty reading grade-level material; they notice that he reads in a labored fashion and makes mistakes with longer words. 

After universal screening and identifying that this student needs additional support, we must determine why this student is having difficulty. To do this, we sit with our soon-to-be seventh grader and listen to him read. Given that this student is performing at the fourth percentile (at least as one indicator measures), we do not ask him to read a sixth-grade passage; instead, we asked him to read a fourth-grade passage so that accuracy does not compromise our assessment of comprehension. While the student reads to us aloud, we listen for fluency (rate and prosody) and accuracy, specifically paying attention to any pattern of decoding errors. Following the student’s reading, we ask a few comprehension questions. At the conclusion of this ten- to fifteen-minute period of informal diagnosing, we are in a position to confidently determine whether the student most needs (or first needs) targeted support in the area of single-syllabic phonics, multisyllabic phonics, fluency, or comprehension. We efficient and effectively (albeit perhaps preliminarily) identify why the student was having difficulty reading. 

Then, we determine what we will do to proactively target these needs so that the student is on the path to success. This seventh-grade team embeds buffer times within units of instruction and throughout the school year to provide intervention or enrichment depending on evidence of need that it gathers through assessments (Tier 2 interventions). All students in the class will benefit from these buffer times, either from intervention or enrichment, and we can anticipate that our at-risk reader in this scenario may require these supplemental Tier 2 interventions from time to time. However, his needs are such that he is likely to require targeted Tier 3 interventions.

We would have already developed a system of supports within which there are thirty-minute Tier 3 sessions in the various areas of reading difficulties, available within the school day. Assuming this to be true for our school, we assign this sixth-grade student to a targeted Tier 3 support that specifically addresses the most immediate area of need. Assuming that this situation is occurring at the end of the student’s sixth-grade year, this intervention support would begin at the very start of the student’s seventh-grade year. We would also prevent frustration and failure by being ready on day one of seventh grade with positive and proactive differentiation supports (such as text at the student’s Lexile level, graphical and visual representations of key content, and audio versions of the course’s texts) so that all students can achieve mastery of the course’s priorities.

In addition, we would identify who on staff will take the lead in providing these supports and when the appointed staff will provide them, at all tiers. In this scenario, seventh-grade teacher teams would prepare for the differentiated and scaffolded core instructional supports that students with significant needs in foundational reading skills require to be successful in their courses. If a student cannot successfully read grade-level content, in the absence of scaffolded supports he will experience difficulties accessing learning. But all students can think. All students can problem solve. All students can learn. Educators cannot allow reading deficits to prevent students from mastering grade-level essentials. This student must have equitable access to meeting grade-level expectations as a result of scaffolded differentiation.

Last, we must ensure that we check on student progress frequently and accurately and ensure that we have a process in place for making necessary adjustments. There is no learning unless we know the extent to which students are progressing so that we can adjust our teaching. There is no RTI unless we know the extent to which students are responding to the interventions. So, to measure the extent to which our middle school reader who is at risk is responding to Tier 3 reading supports, we monitor progress in the skill area that matches the area of need, and the area in which we are providing support, at least every two weeks. If the student is receiving single-syllabic support, then we monitor progress in decoding single-syllabic words. If the student is receiving multisyllabic support, then we monitor progress in decoding multisyllabic words, and so on.

Additionally, we ensure that the RTI team (principal, administrators, counselors, special education staff, and teachers) meets weekly to review evidence to ensure that students—particularly students most at risk—are adequately responding to intervention. If students are adequately closing the gap, then we continue these supports until the gaps do not exist. If students are not adequately closing the gap, then we make adjustments to the type of support (or to how we are providing the intervention) until adequate progress occurs. No matter what. No matter how long it takes. Success is inevitable.

None of these practices occur in isolation and they are not completed only for our fictional sixth-grade student. They occur automatically, systematically, as part of our specially designed RTI-based system of supports.

So many schools are seeking guidance and supports in addressing scenarios such as these. The search is over.

In these unprecedented times, our students need our best and we need the best tools to serve them. Mr. Elmer’s Intervention Compass is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Intervention Compass can help:

  • The universal screening of mindsets is available within Intervention Compass.
  • Data from these screeners can be organized and analyzed within Intervention Compass’ Data Walls.
  • Research-based strategies, found within Intervention Compass’ Intervention Library, can be used to promote more positive mindsets.
  • Students’ mindset needs and staff response to these needs can be documented within Intervention Compass’ notes section.
  • Progress monitoring can be scheduled, administered, and data plotted within Intervention Compass’ assessment support system.

We can be prepared to meet students’ behavioral needs. We must. Mr. Elmer is the best solution to help us in this critical work.

The Remediation Plan for When We Return – Plan with the End in Mind

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

All schools are, or should be, planning for what to do for all students when schools re-open, presumably (and hopefully) in the Fall, for the 20-21 school year. My schools are planning, and I believe that all schools should be planning, for supports that all students will need and the supports that the most vulnerable students will need.

We must plan to utilize the precious number of school days we have to address the needs that we can realistically predict in this situation. We must plan the entire year with the beginning-of-the-year remediation needs in mind. We can predict that more days at the beginning of the year will be needed to reteach and reconnect and that we will likely need more days throughout the year (buffer days within and between units) to reteach and enrich. Learning essentials is more important than attempting to cover all standards; mastery is more important than coverage. Let’s prepare calendars in advance that provide time for meeting student needs and re-prioritize, re-scope, and re-sequence standards throughout the year.

It’s not about, it’s never been about, coverage. It’s about depth of mastery, not breadth of content. We cannot continue to sacrifice the quantity of learning by unwisely favoring the quantity of topics. Time is our most precious resource

When we return for the next school year, planning and implementing a Guaranteed, Viable Curriculum will be more critical than ever.

In 2001, Robert Marzano introduced us to these critically important letters…GVC…a Guaranteed, Viable Curriculum. It’s never been more important than it is today. Marzano’s research concluded that the most significant contributor the students learning at high levels was the presence of a GVC. You could think of GVC as an excellent answer to Question 1 of a PLC at Work.

The problem, reported Marzano, was that most classrooms, teacher teams, and schools did not have a GVC. There were no guarantees that students leaving the same grade level or course would master the same standards, concepts, and skills due of a lack of collaboration and an ill-fated attempt to cover all of the standards in curricular frameworks. Marzano calculated that for teachers to ensure that students mastered all of these standards, we’d need a K-22 educational system. We weren’t guaranteeing that all students learned standards because there was not a viable (doable, possible) quantity of content to cover within the 180 days of the grade level or course.

Given that we must plan to address students’ social, emotional, behavioral, and academic needs given these very unique circumstances, re-prioritizing standards is a must.

Prioritizing standards or determine essential standards isn’t new; it’s just more important than ever. It’s that some standards are unimportant, it’s just that not all standards are equally important. We’re not saying that we’re not going to teach all standards, just that we’re not going to teach all standards as if they’re equally important.

For those who believe every standard is important, ask colleagues in the next grade or course. When asked to identify the most essential prerequisite knowledge that a student must possess to be successful in their grade level or course (from the preceding grade level or course), I’ve never heard an educator say everything. They’re typically very clear about what students should know and be able to do.

Let’s pause to address some logical realities:

  • Students with gaps in prerequisite skills will require preteaching supports. These take time.
  • Students with language needs will require scaffolded supports. These take time.
  • All students deserve a balanced set of approaches to learn (concrete, pictorial, abstract; conceptual, procedural, application; visual, auditory, kinesthetic). These take time.

All students (including students with special needs, with language needs, and with gaps in prerequisite skills) can (and must) learn essential, prioritized skills and concepts at depth. But assuming that students with and without these needs can master the same quantity of concepts at the same level of quality is illogical. It’s insulting. And what are the consequences of rushing through the curriculum? Some students get left behind, in fact they end the year farther behind than they began the year. It’s not inequitable to ensure that students master a more focused set of prioritized concepts. It’s inequitable to pretend that they can master a quantity of content determined by someone disconnected from the school, the team, the classroom. We all have the same (approximately) 180 days in a school year.

Of course, getting to a GVC is not only dependent on prioritizing and de-prioritizing standards. Exceptional teacher teams are nesting standards, teaching in more integrated and connected ways, and applying skills more deeply to a reduced amount of content. 

Which leads us to behavioral skills. If we accept that mindsets, perseverance, self-regulation, executive functioning, and other behavioral skills are as critical as academics; and if we are committed to modeling, teaching, and nurturing them; and if we already feel rushed and stressed by the quantity of academic standards; then we must redouble our commitment to prioritizing, to PLCs at Work, and to designing a GVC. Teach less, learn more.

Guaranteeing that our curriculum can be mastered by all students because the curriculum represents a viable quantity of content is beginning with the end in mind.

The Remediation Plan for When We Return – The Most Vulnerable will be Even More Vulnerable

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All schools are, or should be, planning for what to do for all students when schools re-open, presumably (and hopefully) in the Fall, for the 20-21 school year. My schools are planning, and I believe that all schools should be planning, for supports that all students will need and the supports that the most vulnerable students will need.

The most vulnerable will be even more vulnerable…

We must be ready to meet student needs before the first day of school. Therefore, we must analyze data of student needs that we have generated during this current school year and pre-assess needs during the beginning of the year. We cannot and need not gather data on all standards. Let’s focus on the essentials. 

At the conclusion of each school year, there are still vulnerable students; in spite of our best efforts throughout the course of the year and in spite of student progress, school years end with students who are still not yet were they need to be and with us preparing for the ways in which we will support these students at the very beginning of the new school year, even if that student will be transitioning to a different school.

Wow…will we need to do that for this upcoming school year. In fact, there’s a strong likelihood that students who were vulnerable when schools shifted to virtual learning will have made less progress in closing gaps at home then they would have made had schools remained open. We must be ready. It starts with gathering and analyzing data.

This process has a name: Universal screening. What does it mean? Screeners filter those students who are at desperate risk of failure unless they receive immediate, intensive supports. 

If it’s predictable, it’s preventable. We can predict who these students are—they scored in the lowest performance band on the state test; they scored in the 6th percentile on a norm-referenced test; they were suspended for 12 days last year; they were not passing classes. A strong MTSS/RTI approach is predicated on the notion of prevention as opposed to the historical approach of waiting until a student fails and then launching a rescue mission. All students are screened to identify any individuals who, despite a strong core instructional program (Tier 1), are still in danger of failure. To ensure that students do not fall farther and farther behind, students must have access to immediate help. 

So here’s what we do: 

We screen to identify students most at-risk. What would we use to screen? Do we need to buy a new and administer a new test? We recommend that schools use the loads of data that they already gather to identify who is so far behind that they will simply not catch up in the absence of intensive support, provided as quickly as possible.

What could that look like, for example, in the area of reading? Most schools are using a three-times-a-year benchmark to establish current levels of readiness. Most of these benchmarks are computer-based and adaptive and many are quite good. Screening in these instances is simple; establish an initial criterion (e.g., students scoring in the 30th percentile or below or reading two or more grade levels behind). Students scoring below are highly likely to have a significant deficit in reading that requires immediate Tier 3 support (in addition to a highly differentiated and scaffolded set of Tier 1 supports). 

In preparation for this coming school year, we may need to reference the mid-year administration of such tests.

But, what if those types of benchmark tests are not available. While a grade of F may not accurately identify why a student did not pass a subject area or class, an F should serve to immediately screen a student as a likely candidate for more intensive supports, probably in the areas of reading or behavioral skills such as self-regulation, executive functioning, organization, or time management. An F in reading in elementary grades, or an F in an English class in middle and high schools, or multiple Fs in any grade level should lead to us asking questions about students’ reading skills. All grade levels and all subject areas require that a student read at or close to grade level to be successful, even when teacher teams provide scaffolded access to content.

Or, let’s systematically gather teachers’ specific feedback on students’ significant needs. Teachers spend an entire year or course with a student – or in this case, most of the year. If a significant deficit in the foundational skill areas of reading, numeracy, writing, or behavior exist, then the student will need intensive Tier 3 interventions and supports at the very beginning of the next year. Period. They ought to already be receiving these supports, but whether they are or are not, students are “screened” to be a strong candidate of Tier 3 supports if their current year teacher identifies them as such at the conclusion of the year. No other documentation or testing should be required to get them on the “list.” 

Screening is a process, not a test. The reason we screen is to as-immediately-as-possible begin providing intensive supports to students most in-need. First, we need to know why they are so significantly at-risk and determine their most immediate area of need.

In addition to end-of-the-year screening, my schools are also preparing short pre-assessments (or screeners) to administer at the very beginning of the year. These short tests assess student proficiency on the prior grade level or course essential learning targets and their preparedness for the coming year. The narrow focus of these pre-assessments will empower teachers to target prerequisite needs of students found to be vulnerable, particularly when combined with the screening information gathered prior to the end of this school year.

In these unprecedented times, our students need our best and we need the best tools to serve them. Mr. Elmer’s Intervention Compass is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Intervention Compass can help:

  • The universal screening of mindsets is available within Intervention Compass.
  • Data from these screeners can be organized and analyzed within Intervention Compass’ Data Walls.
  • Research-based strategies, found within Intervention Compass’ Intervention Library, can be used to promote more positive mindsets.
  • Students’ mindset needs and staff response to these needs can be documented within Intervention Compass’ notes section.
  • Progress monitoring can be scheduled, administered, and data plotted within Intervention Compass’ assessment support system.

We can be prepared to meet students’ behavioral needs. We must. Mr. Elmer is the best solution to help us in this critical work.

The Remediation Plan for When We Return – Re-establishing cultures, mindsets, and expectations for all

 

selective focus photography of two women s white and black tops
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

 

All schools are, or should be, planning for what to do for all students when schools re-open, presumably (and hopefully) in the Fall, for the 20-21 school year. My schools are planning, and I believe that all schools should be planning, for supports that all students will need and the supports that the most vulnerable students will need.

Re-establishing cultures, mindsets, and expectations for all

In addition to reinforcing social norms, we will need to re-establish emotionally physically, and intellectually safe learning environments and the positive cultures and mindsets that schools have worked so hard to successfully establish. Parents and teachers have worked so hard to retain normalcy in these distance learning times, but learning by oneself and in pajamas is not the same as working together, both in and out of classrooms, in schools. 

Beyond a collaborative culture, a belief in the ability of all students to learn (academic and behavioral skills) at high levels is fundamental. Students know when educators have high expectations for their success (Zimmerman et al., 1992). When educators have high expectations, students learn at higher levels. There is no reference to that student or those students. No labels are allowed to persuade educators that students cannot self-regulate, be motivated, or be cooperative. With proactive and positive supports, educators can make significant impacts, and all students can be on track (or get back or track) for college, career, and future readiness. We have experienced it, and researchers demonstrate that behavioral skills are malleable (Farrington et al., 2012). Schools have worked so hard to establish cultures of high expectations for all learners achieving at high levels. We’ll need to rededicate ourselves, with staff enthusiastically, energetically, and passionately communicating to students that they can!

We cannot use a perceived lack of student motivation as an excuse to deny supports to students. Motivation is a symptom. Student needs in the areas of precognitive self-regulation, mindsets, social skills, perseverance, or learning strategies will likely lead to a lack of motivation. 

What can we do at the beginning of this new year to reestablish high expectations of positive mindsets? I recommend that schools develop an action plan to promote more positive student, and staff mindsets, directly related to the indicators provided by Camille Farrington and her colleagues (2012):

  • “I belong in this academic community.” – Here are steps that could be taken to increase students’ connections to school: Initiate or reinvigorate homerooms or advisory periods within secondary schools or classroom meetings in elementary schools; keep track of interactions within classrooms to ensure that a conversation (however brief) happens with every student at least every week; expand the quantity and type of activities or clubs at school so that every student can be involved, and will be held accountable to being involved, and connected to something on campus.
  • “My ability and competence grow with my effort.” Here are steps that could increase student and staff beliefs that, given time and the right supports, all students can learn at high level: Stop assigning points when work (quizzes, papers, tests) are returned, instead highlighting errors (opportunities for improvement) that all students are expected to correct or improve; stop assigning zeros that effectively let off the hook, instead assigning incompletes and requiring students to complete all assignments that were worthy or being assigned in the first place; require students to refine assignments and retake tests that are below an agreed upon level of mastery, instead of denying them the opportunity to show you what they now know after correcting errors, relearning concepts, and receiving support; consistently communicate a “not yet” approach to lack of understanding, as in, “I don’t get this yet,” instead of, “I don’t get this;” explicitly learn from errors, using a routine like “My Favorite No” (www.teachingchannel.org/videos/class-warm-up-routine), in which a “good” mistake is shared with the class an opportunity to grow.
  • “I can succeed at this.” Here are steps that could increase student and staff beliefs success with the task is possible: Learn about, and truly commit to, differentiation and scaffolding, for example, providing text that is at students’ reading level so that they can access science or social studies content or adjusting the complexity of numbers so that students can be successful accessing mathematics concepts; providing students with multiples ways of showing what they know, for example, videoing, screencasting, or recording audio of responses.
  • “This work has value for me.” In addition to striving to design experiences that tap into students’ lives, promote more voice, choice, and agency to increase the value that students place on their learning. Voice: Listen to students and use their input when providing options for the content with which they engage, process used for learning, and the products they use to show what they know. Choice: Allow students to exercise some choice over the place, pace, path, and time of day that they learn. Agency: Give students a stake in their learning, inviting (or requiring) them to track their progress toward learning.

Schools promoting positive mindsets sometimes believe that the teaching, modeling, and nurturing of behavioral skills is only for students who don’t seem to “care,” students at risk, or students from historically underperforming subgroups. This could not be further from the truth. All students will benefit from support with mindsets. We have met high-achieving students who do not persevere, and gifted students with fixed mindsets. Schools need not worry about when they will pull vulnerable students to teach them behavioral skills. The teaching and learning of behavioral skills is for all, and must be part of every school’s Tier 1, core environments:

Students are not likely to develop learning strategies in the absence either of explicit instruction or classwork that requires the use of such strategies. It may be most helpful to think about noncognitive factors as properties of the interactions between students and classrooms or school environments. Rather than being helpless in the face of students who lack perseverance and good academic behaviors, teachers set the classroom conditions that strongly shape the nature of students’ academic performance. The essential question is not how to change students to improve their behavior but rather how to create contexts that better support students in developing critical attitudes and learning strategies necessary for their academic success. Thus, teaching adolescents to become learners may require educators to shift their own beliefs and practices as well as to build their pedagogical skills and strategies to support student learning in new ways. Academic behaviors and perseverance may need to be thought of as creations of school and classroom contexts rather than as personal qualities that students bring with them to school. (p. 72)

So how do educators do it? What silver bullet or magic formula will help teachers and schools help students develop these habits? While there may be unique strategies about which educators do not know, the practices that are likely to help develop critical behavioral skills are the very same research-based best practices about which educators have read but may not have found time to implement or have not implemented well—rigorous and relevant teaching, collaborative learning, and differentiated instruction, to name a few.

The path is clear. This does not, however, mean that’s easy. Mr. Elmer’s Intervention Compass can help:

  • The universal screening of mindsets is available within Intervention Compass.
  • Data from these screeners can be organized and analyzed within Intervention Compass’ Data Walls.
  • Research-based strategies, found within Intervention Compass’ Intervention Library, can be used to promote more positive mindsets.
  • Students’ mindset needs and staff response to these needs can be documented within Intervention Compass’ notes section.
  • Progress monitoring can be scheduled, administered, and data plotted within Intervention Compass’ assessment support system.

 

We can be prepared to meet students’ behavioral needs. We must. Mr. Elmer is the best solution to help us in this critical work.

 

The Remediation Plan for When We Return – Re-connecting socially for all

 

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All schools are, or should be, planning for what to do for all students when schools re-open, presumably (and hopefully) in the Fall, for the 20-21 school year. My schools are planning, and I believe that all schools should be planning, for supports that all students will need and the supports that the most vulnerable students will need.

Re-connecting socially for all

Learning is social and classrooms and schools are incredibly social places. The norms for socialization within a classroom and school become second nature because of the intentional work of educators and because social norms are practiced and re-practiced hundreds of times a day. At least they are in normal times…

The need for schools to hit the ground running with smooth interactions between students and between students and staff is great, given the academic work that also needs to be done. We all need to have plans to remind and reinforce positive social connections.

A key element of active learning is collaborating with peers. Lev Vygotsky (1978) validated this notion many decades ago. Learning is social, and students learn more when they work with peers, process with peers, and rehearse their emerging understandings with peers.

And classrooms are communities. When community members cooperate and behave empathetically toward one another, positive, respectful interactions are much more likely to be observed, and all students learning at high levels will be possible, perhaps even probable.

Many teachers have expressed that there are students who have “checked out” within distance learning. We are finding that, often, these are students who were not particularly engaged prior to distance learning. I strongly suggest that we reflect upon this phenomenon. First, disengaged students, either in a face-to-face or virtual setting, do not learn at high levels. Engaging students is our responsibility. How do we do it during face-to-face classroom settings? We intentionally nurture relationships with all students and we guide students in making connections to someone and something within school. All students. The fact that some students are not engaged in distance learning is unfortunate. The fact that these are the same students who were disengaged before distance learning should be a call to action. When we return, let’s redouble our efforts to ensure that all students are socially, intellectually, and emotionally engaged.

So what do we do? We can predict that social norms will need to be modeled, taught, reinforced, and in some cases, retaught in light of the months that students have been away from physical schools. There is no magic formula for modeling, teaching, reinforcing, and reteaching behavioral skills, as I will outline below. What’ll be different about this coming school year is that even more time ought to be dedicated to these important learning opportunities.

We ought to carve out and dedicate time during every school year to the teaching and learning of behavioral skills. For this coming school year, we’d recommend carving out a bit more time than normal, particularly at the beginning of the year and, as in any year, following these steps:

  1. Identify the most critical behavioral skills – The critical behavioral skills that we will need to model, teach, and reinforce will not be terribly different in the coming year; there simply may be some students with relatively greater needs than in years past and we will may need to dedicate more time. The research is clear on the domains of behavioral skills are essential. As you think about your students’ needs and about your current PBIS motto (e.g., PRIDE, STARS, respect, responsibility, and safety), analyze how they match the domains defined in the research. Will you model, teach, and reinforce skills within the domains of 1) Mindsets, 2) Social Skills, 3) Perseverance, 4) Learning Strategies, and 5) Academic Behaviors. We’d recommend that your prioritization of behavioral skills you deem to be most critical for your students include skills from each domain.
  2. Define and make sense of these skills – Identifying critical skills isn’t enough. We must also define what it looks like and sounds like when these skills are displayed, so that staff, students, and parents are crystal clear on the success criteria for behavioral learning targets. Consistency in understanding or expectations will be even more important this coming year.
  3. Model, teach, and nurture these skills – We cannot demonstrate what critical behavioral skills look like once during a beginning of the year assembly and expect students (and staff) to be good to go. Would we provide a beginning of the year assembly on reading comprehension and expect that to suffice? Instead, we recommend providing weekly (preferably Monday) behavioral skill mini-lessons that are intentionally reinforced though each day throughout the week.
  4. Measure student success in displaying these skills – Students need to know when their practice of behavioral skills is sufficient. And staff need to know which students are meeting which behavioral expectations and which are not yet meeting expectations and therefore need additional, alternative supports.
  5. Provide differentiated supports that respect students’ current levels of readiness – We can, starting now, gather evidence on students whose behavioral needs require differentiated supports this year so that differentiated supports can be proactively and positively put into place at the very beginning of next year. All students can behave productively when they receive the correct supports. The process of gathering information at the end of the year to inform supports at the beginning of a new year is called Universal Screening. Screening informs differentiated Tier 1. It also informs more intensive types of supports.
  6. Intervene appropriately and as necessary when evidence reveals the need – There will be students who need more time and alternative supports and strategies (Tier 2) to display appropriate mindsets, social skills, perseverance, learning strategies, and academic behaviors. Other students will need to our most intensive sets of supports (Tier 3) to be successful. Next year, more than ever, we need to be ready to provide these types of supports immediately. To do this, we need to know which students need which supports with which skills.

 

The path is clear. This does not, however, mean that’s easy. Mr. Elmer’s Intervention Compass can help:

  • The universal screening of behavioral skills is available within Intervention Compass.
  • Data from these screeners can be organized and analyzed within Intervention Compass’ Data Walls.
  • Research-based strategies, found within Intervention Compass’ Intervention Library, can be matched to identified needs.
  • Student needs and staff response to student needs can be documented within Intervention Compass’ notes section.
  • Progress monitoring can be scheduled, administered, and data plotted within Intervention Compass’ assessment support system.

 

We can be prepared to meet students’ behavioral needs. We must. Mr. Elmer is the best solution to help us in this critical work.


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Intervention Compass will keep your team on the same page about each student! Don’t let anyone fall through the cracks…

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The Remediation Plan for When We Return

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

All schools are, or should be, planning for what to do for all students when schools re-open, presumably (and hopefully) in the Fall, for the 20-21 school year. My schools are planning, and I believe that all schools should be planning, for supports that all students will need and the supports that the most vulnerable students will need.

Re-connecting socially for all

Learning is social and classrooms and schools are incredibly social places. The norms for socialization within a classroom and school become second nature because of the intentional work of educators and because social norms are practiced and re-practiced hundreds of times a day. At least they are in normal times…

The need for schools to hit the ground running with smooth interactions between students and between students and staff is great, given the academic work that also needs to be done. We all need to have plans to remind and reinforce positive social connections.

Re-establishing cultures, mindsets, and expectations for all

In addition to reinforcing social norms, we will need to re-establish emotionally physically, and intellectually safe learning environments and the positive cultures and mindsets that schools have worked so hard to successfully establish. Parents and teachers have worked so hard to retain normalcy in these distance learning times, but learning by oneself and in pajamas is not the same as working together, both in and out of classrooms, in schools. 

The most vulnerable will be even more vulnerable…

  • We must be ready to meet student needs before the first day of school. Therefore, we must analyze data of student needs that we have generated during this current school year and pre-assess needs during the beginning of the year. We cannot and need not gather data on all standards. Let’s focus on the essentials.
  • We must be ready with instructional plans that address potential needs. Therefore, we must create and curate materials and strategies that adults can use to catch students up, designing instructional/remediation plans tied to those standards, skills, and dispositions for which we gather data. Again, we cannot and need not gather data on all standards. Let’s focus on the essentials.
  • We must plan to utilize the precious number of school days we have to address the needs that we can realistically predict in this situation. We must plan the entire year with the beginning-of-the-year remediation needs in mind. We can predict that more days at the beginning of the year will be needed to reteach and reconnect and that we will likely need more days throughout the year (buffer days within and between units) to reteach and enrich. Learning essentials is more important than attempting to cover all standards; mastery is more important than coverage. Let’s prepare calendars in advance that provide time for meeting student needs and re-prioritize, re-scope, and re-sequence standards throughout the year.
  • We must plan to provided ongoing Tier 2 and 3 supports throughout the year. Of course, we have always done this, but it’s possible that students with vulnerabilities will need our timely, targeted, and intensive supports more than ever. Let’s ensure that our RTI/MTSS plans, for both academic and behavioral needs, ensure proactive and impactful supports for students.

In subsequent weeks, we will expand on each of these topics. And in subsequent weeks, we will further describe a solution for helping schools in these areas:

  • Generating, accessing, and aggregating data, both academic and behavioral, into immediately usable forms will be vital – Mr. Elmer’s Intervention Compass can help.
  • Facilitating collaboration between the adults on campus as they strive to serve students will be vital – Mr. Elmer’s Intervention Compass can help.
  • Monitoring student progress and documenting student’s learning journeys, both academically and behaviorally, will be vital – Mr. Elmer’s Intervention Compass can help.

 

In these unprecedented times, our students need our best and we need the best tools to serve them. Mr. Elmer’s Intervention Compass is unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

Why Support Rigorous Learning?

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Not everyone likes the word rigorous. 

 

Why do we, as educators, need to support rigorous learning? It’s simple. Systems of Supports for Rigorous Learning (SSRL) ensure high levels of learning for all students at all readiness levels through the integration of elements from the most important and impactful initiatives within public education. Those initiatives are:

  • Response to intervention (RTI)
  • Multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS)
  • Professional learning communities (PLCs)
  • Positive behavior interventions and supports (PBIS)
  • Universal design for learning (UDL)
  • Special education, gifted education, and differentiated instruction

 

Most significantly, SSRL build upon RTI, a proactive, coordinated, and systemic approach to providing academic and behavioral supports for all students. Within SSRL, collaborative teams of educators ask:

  • What student needs can we anticipate? 
  • For what supports can we proactively plan and prepare?

 

Contemporary students deserve contemporary schools and educators. The very recent NAEP report reconfirms that most students are not ready for college and a skilled career and that a growing number of students are functionally illiterate and innumerate  (http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/). We must simultaneously increase the rigor and relevance of learning experiences and better support vulnerable students. 

 

The good news: We know more than ever what works best in schools.

 

While SSRL represent a set of supports for all students—one of the most highly-effective and researched-based practices in which schools can engage—the concept entered education through the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) in 2004. 

 

Whereas practitioners previously used the IQ-achievement discrepancy model to identify children with learning disabilities, the reauthorization allowed schools to employ a lack of “response to intervention” as an alternative method for determining eligibility and as a rationale for providing early intervention. 

 


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Using a lack of response to intervention for such determinations has implications for all of education. Systemically and successfully implementing RTI within a SSRL requires that all staff instruct and intervene and monitor the extent to which students are responding

 

From struggling students striving to meet minimum proficiency levels to gifted students striving to reach their potential, SSRL invite a collaborative effort among students, teachers, parents, and the community to prioritize students achieving positive outcomes. The system of supports that schools are increasingly scheduling into school days have the potential to provide more customized supports for every student. SSRL are a framework, a way of thinking, in which teams continuously ask, “To what extent are students responding to instruction and intervention?”

 

Challenge: Lack of Clarity

Challenges remain in our well-intentioned efforts to realize the full potential of this important endeavor, and they are largely due to a lack of clarity about the positive impact of a well-constructed approach to SSRL that can be realized by all schools. The critical components of an effective SSRL are:

  • Differentiated instruction and learning opportunities for all students
  • Timely, proactive identification of vulnerable students 
  • Increasingly targeted and intensive future instruction and intervention based on student response to present instruction and intervention
  • Coordinated and evidence-informed decision-making 

 

SSRL are equally impactful for students who are not identified as struggling, but who are considered at or above level, and whose needs are not being met. SSRL can and must be applied to all students; educators must work to ensure that every student has access to engaging learning experiences. 

 

Unfortunately, part of the confusion about SSRL has occurred because of a lack of clarity around the definitions and functions of each level of support for both academics and behavior. 

 

Core supports are differentiated—Teaching and learning cycles designed so that every student masters grade-level and course-specific behavioral and academic priorities for all students. Teachers respond to a student’s unique learning needs by making adjustments to process, content, product, and environments based on a student’s interests, learning profile, and readiness levels. These supports are often described as Tier 1. Key points include:

  • Teach less, learn more (quality, not quantity; depth, not breadth; mastery, not coverage)
  • Scaffolded, differentiated, respectful
  • Skills and content; verbs and nouns
  • Pro-social and pro-functional skills, e.g., self-regulation, executive functioning, social-emotional
  • 21st century skills, e.g., creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, communication
  • Commonly crafted and analyzed assessments to plan for instruction and inform interventions

 

More supports are individualized—timely and targeted supports for greater levels of student mastery of academic and behavioral priorities, so that students don’t fall behind (or further behind) and so that students can achieve reach greater depths of understanding. If differentiation is the how, then individualization is the when. Learning progresses at different speeds; some students may need to review previously covered material, while others may be ready to immerse themselves in a certain topic. These supports are often described as Tier 2. Key points include:

  • Directly based on Benjamin Bloom’s work in the 1960s
  • Based on the “formula” – Time + Support = Learning
  • Informed by short-cycle assessments
  • More time—for both alternative supports and to gain mastery of the priorities – for intervention and enrichment
  • Provided during daily flex times or during “buffer” days
  • Students grouped based on specific skill needs
  • Other school staff may join grade-level and course-specific teachers, to reduce teacher-student ratios
  • Does not replace the core

 

Specialized supports are personalized—Intervention and enrichment to meet students at the forward edge of their zones of proximal development; intensive supports to meet significant deficits in foundational skills and opportunities for students to exercise choice over the what and how of passions into which they will dive deeply. If differentiation is the how and individualization is the when, the personalization is the where—as in, where are students in their learning journey. Students who are not yet performing at expected levels, due to significant deficits in foundational skills, receive targeted and intensive supports at the leading edge of their zone of proximal development to close the gap. Students who are meeting and exceeding age and grade expectations dig deeper into areas of interest. All students’ experiences are tailored to preferences and interests; support is paced to students’ unique needs. Students are involved in the creation and monitoring of their learning path. These supports are often described as Tier 3. Key points include:

  • Proactive, immediate, intensive
  • Diagnostically-driven and targeted (e.g., on phonemic awareness, single-syllabic phonics, or multisyllabic phonics)
  • Address and improve significant deficits in foundational skills, or

provide personalized learning plans, giving students opportunities to exercise choice over the what and how of the passions into which they will dive deeply

  • For students who have been screened to be multiple grade levels behind their peers in foundational skills and for students who have not responded to core (Tier 1) and more (Tier 2)
  • Adjusted to match student needs and revised until the student is adequately responding to intervention (success is inevitable)
  • In addition to Tier 1 and 2; does not replace core or more supports

 

Systems of Supports for Rigorous Learning are appropriate for all students and all educators and we are successfully transforming schools across the world by employing its principle and practices (http://www.chriswebereducation.com/). Success is dependent upon the enthusiastic and committed collaboration of all adults who are connected to students. Ultimately, an SSRL represent the ways in which we behave as educators and not simply a collection of things that we implement or buy.

To Provide Feedback, We Must Monitor Progress

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Providing timely and specific feedback to students is essential to promoting a growth mindset and ensuring that every student is future-ready at optimal levels.

 

To provide accurate feedback, we must gather evidence about where students are and set goals about where they’re going. This evidence gathering is sometimes called checking for understanding, formatively assessing, or progress monitoring.

 

Progress monitoring, appropriate for all students, measures the extent to which students are responding to instruction, and when necessary, interventions. Here are a few keys to gathering the evidence we need to continuously inform teaching and learning:

 

  1. Involve students

Students can self-assess, and doing so can give kiddos a feeling of ownership over their learning journey. Plotting progress on a simple graph gives students practice with this important skill and makes their growth visible. After plotting a current score and extending their progress line, we ask students to plot a target for the future.

 

  1. Choose simple tools and readily available scores

Simple is best. Scores such as words correct per minute (from oral reading fluency probes), digits correct per minute (from math fact fluency quizzes), Lexile values (from a variety of computer-based reading assessments), and behavior points (from daily check-in / check-out procedures) are typically part of schools’ existing data world. Of course, anecdotal evidence of progress can provide richer information and should also be gathered, but easily quantifiable indicators of performance can provide students and teachers a snapshot of where we are now.

 

  1. Monitor student learning within each lesson

Tickets out the door and exit slips are popular and powerful ways of informing future instruction. Using index cards or scratch paper, teachers can pose a simple question to students during the closure of a lesson that matching the lesson’s learning objective. Teachers can then efficiently analyze how the lesson went, which students may need more time and/or an alternative sets of supports, and where misunderstandings may exist. We also recommend mid-lesson checks for understanding. Here’s one idea: 

About halfway through a lesson, after a teacher’s metacognitive modeling of a new concept and some initial student practice, with a gradual release of responsibility to students and opportunities for students to process new learning through think-pair-share, ask each student to respond to a quick question and respond via a small white board held aloft (“1-2-3, boards on me”) or through padlet, kahoot, or another digital resource. The mid-lesson information that is gathered can inform which students complete which tasks and which students need small group time with the teacher, before frustrations can occur and before students fall behind.

Making informal and frequent progress monitoring a part of the daily habit of the classroom can empower both teachers and students to make timely shifts.

 

  1. Frequently and accurately monitor student response to intervention

RTI is a verb…to what extent are students responding to intervention…to what extent are they RTI’ing. We have found that an absence of progress monitoring is one of the major difficulties that is negatively impacting the success of schools’ RTI and MTSS efforts. There is simply no RTI unless we know the extent to which students are responding so that we can make the timely adjustments that vulnerable students so desperately need. This need not be complicated. We must, however, a plan. Who will monitor progress, when within the day will progress be monitored, and how frequently will progress be monitored? Of course, we must also determine which assessments or tools to use, and this task tends to present the greatest challenge. We have found that a difficulty selecting the right tool with which to monitor progress often indicates a lack of intervention focus. The best intervention is a targeted intervention. The best progress monitoring tool is one that measures student progress in mastering the skill that the intervention is targeting. For example, if the student’s reading need is best targeted through a phonics intervention, then measure progress in phonics; if the students’ reading need is best targeted through a comprehension intervention, then measure progress in comprehension. The best intervention is targeted intervention; the best progress monitoring is targeted progress monitoring.

 

  1. Use student progress to adjust teacher practices

Any evidence gathered for individual students (whether classroom wide unit/chapter tests, tickets out the door/exit slips, or the simple tests described above) can be combined to determine the success of our teaching efforts. Progress monitoring allows students to reflect and revise their efforts; the same goes for us. When evidence indicates that students are not adequately responding to instruction or intervention, we must reflect on the appropriateness of our strategies and make informed adjustments.

 

Progress monitoring has most typically been associated with RTI, providing the information needed to determine the extent to which a student is responding to supplemental supports. But progress monitoring applies to all students. Whatever tools we chose to use, morning student growth provides an opportunity for students to have a voice in their learning journey and for educators to begin a feedback conversation.