“We can succeed only by concert. It is not ‘can any of us imagine better?’ but, ‘can we all do better?’ The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”

Abraham Lincoln, December 1, 1862

We’re at risk of missing a golden opportunity. While the challenges are great, new, and evolving, the power of collaboration (of acting in concert) and thinking and acting differently is creating successes in schools. One way in which we must think anew is by aggressively and intelligently supporting students earlier than we have ever done before.

While these times are unprecedented, I believe that it is in times like these that transformative innovations can and must occur.

Virtually all difficulties in schooling, most specifically in the areas of literacy and mathematics, can be most efficiently and successfully ameliorated in the early grades if we’re diagnostic in identifying students in need and the areas in which they require support. When we commit to providing supports with intensity, a sense of urgency, and the expectation that we (schools and students) will be successful in achieving the highest levels of mastery and depth of understanding, we cannot fail. It is not a matter of knowledge and experience, but of will. Do we have the will?

Response to Intervention (RTI) has been embraced successfully by many educators, schools, and school systems across North America, with a focus on:

  1. Rigorous, differentiated Tier 1, core instruction for all students so that fewer and fewer interventions will be necessary.
  2. Preventative, proactive steps on behalf of students based on predictable, possible roadblocks to learning and progress.
  3. A well-designed, comprehensive system of supports for all students.

In some schools, however, RTI is little more than reactive, one-size-fits-all, Tier 2 and Tier 3 interventions for students who are perpetually under-served by core instruction). 

The research is clear, we cannot wait for students to mature or hope they catch up – both essential building blocks and critical thinking skills. And significantly, an increasingly large percentage of students enter our schools behind, an astonishingly fact and a growing crisis given that our expectations for students have appropriately evolved from knowledge of facts to competence and confidence in the areas of critical thinking and problem solving (Dickinson & Neuman, 2006).

Students attend school for up to five years (preschool, Kindergarten, first grade, second, grade, third grade) prior to taking state tests. We have learned that the most successful models of RTI-inspired systems of supports are those that recognize that prevention is the best intervention (Buffum, Mattos, & Weber, 2009; 2012). And, there is more than the power of prevention and early intervention that argues for well-designed and well-executed systems of supports in preschool through third grade. In addition to the power of prevention, the tools associated with RTI – universal screening assessments, progress monitoring tests, evidence-based strategies and programs – are most robust and numerous in these early grades. We’re missing an opportunity; shortsighted goals and short-term gains risk derailing the transformative, long-term power of RTI-based systems of supports.

Particularly in these trying times, so many schools are seeking guidance and supports with ensuring the success of their youngest students. 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.

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