We acknowledge that, for students with significant deficits in foundational skills, the personalized nature of these intensive, highly-specific Tier 3 supports may feel enforced. These vulnerable students may feel as they though have neither the ability to exercise agency nor voice and choice in regard to these interventions that are targeting a specific need within their zone of proximal development.
We understand and we have been there. Several orientations and strategies have proven to successfully persuade students and parents to partner with us in this crucial endeavor:
We view progress monitoring as a logical task with which to meaningfully involve students. In other words, progress monitoring can help motivate the intervention process. Progress-monitoring assessments measure the extent to which students are responding to supplemental interventions. Progress monitoring is feedback:
They also ensure that the right interventions have been chosen for a student or a group of students. Assessments used to measure student mastery of core essentials and progress-monitoring assessments share quite a few attributes. While assessments used to measure student mastery of core essentials determine all students’ responses to core instruction, and in alternative forms, students’ responses to more interventions, progress-monitoring assessments determine the responses of at-risk students to the most intensive interventions. Teachers collect student performance data from progress monitoring on a regular basis, and plot results over time. Drawing a line of best fit through student scores provides an indication of the rate of improvement, or lack of improvement, that the student is making toward achieving mastery of specific skills.
Progress monitoring is an essential tool within a well-defined collaborative system of support. It assesses the adequacy of school supports as well as students’ responses to these supports. Information can lead a team to conclude that a student needs a more intense level of support or decide that a student has responded to interventions and may be successful with a less intensive level of support. Fuchs and Fuchs (2008) summarized the need for progress monitoring within RTI:
Progress monitoring ensures that students receive the intensity of supports that they need to succeed. It also provides the evidence to justify removing supports when progress indicates that skill deficits have been ameliorated, so that students receive supports in the least restrictive levels of support.
Students with significant deficits in foundational skills need support desperately and they need it now. They can be successful; they can catch up. They will. They must.