In the this last part of “A Roadmap for RTI,” I will share the remainder of the steps for a cohesive plan for RTI.
What Does Student Evidence Reveal?
External accountability measures have caused some educators to become fixated on numbers without much meaning being attached to them. Educators sometimes get caught up in gathering data but do not convert it into evidence. We must face a paradox—we assess too much and yet we need more information—by rethinking data as evidence. Evidence, provided through formal and informal assessments, is the engine that drives education and RTI. But it has to be the right evidence gathered with the right tools.
What evidence formats do we need?
• Which students have significant gaps in the foundational prerequisite skills of literacy, numeracy, or behavior? We gather this information using screeners.
• To what extent are students learning the core content we are teaching during our initial, scaffolded, differentiated instruction? This evidence comes to us via common formative assessments (CFAs).
• What are the antecedents and/or the reasons that explain the difficulties of students who are at risk? Diagnostics are utilized to gather this information.
• To what extent are students responding to supplemental supports? We call this progress monitoring and use various methods to gather the feedback.
Evidence, when gathered accurately, analyzed collaboratively, and used to guide decisions, can motivate students and staff members to expect more from themselves and to persevere through the difficulties that will arise.
What Is the Most Important Tier?
In education, and specifically in a well-defined RTI system, there is equally a most important aspect or hinge element—the piece that determines whether or not the work will lead to success. In RTI, this piece is the school’s Tier 1 instruction and assessment practices. A standards-driven, well-defined, “unwrapped” Tier 1 informs all of RTI. A deep understanding of mapping, instruction, and assessment within academic and behavioral domains will ensure more students learn at a deeper level during core blocks of instruction. Without addressing equity and access in core programs; without focused, viable, and well-defined curricular units; without collaborative, cognitive planning, we will neither make significant gains in the number of students adequately responding to core instruction nor ensure all students learn at the levels of depth and complexity necessary to graduate from high school ready for college or a skilled career.
What Are the Critical Structures of an RTI Model?
Educators looking to effect change in their schools need to know who’s with them and what skills those people have, and how much money and time there is to work with. Logistical questions related to school processes must be proactively addressed to ensure that the knowing-doing gap is closed:
• Which students and student needs require more attention?
• Which staff members are best positioned to provide supports?
• When will these supports be provided within the school day?
• Where will these supports be provided?
• What resources, strategies, and/or programs are necessary to meet needs?
The Journey Awaits
RTI involves an exciting and dramatic redesign of general and special education. Both need to change and the entire way in which we educate children needs reform if schools are going to meet their lofty goals. Tweaking will not be sufficient. It is virtually impossible to list every intervention educators will need to meet the unique needs of every student. Each school will have local, contextual needs that will require local, contextual responses. This will require educators to combine the principles of RTI with new ways of thinking. School leaders will need to apply research and proven practices to meet the individual needs of their students using the distinct talents and resources of the professionals who serve those students. The RTI Roadmap that follows will assist in diagnosing a school’s RTI needs—academic and behavioral—and in prescribing localized, contextualized