We recently asked visitors to the Teacher Web site to share their experiences in working with response to intervention. Here are some excerpts from the discussion:
“Our challenges in implementing RTI have included abandoning defunct avenues of collaboration and cutting new paths. This takes time.
RTI has also forced us to reevaluate what happens in the classroom (Tier 1) and during intervention (Tiers 2 and 3). Currently, we have reevaluated one programmatic level to create a truly responsive curriculum.
As you know, there, are many RTI models out there. One of our biggest challenges has been pressure from outside the building to adopt a model that does not reflect the resources we have available. Since there are many models, a school community must band together to focus on one model (likely customized). Another challenge: The RTI movement is characterized by TMI (too much information).
Question: At what point do you take your hands off the model and let it work? It seems to always be morphing, perhaps because we are in the flux of change at various levels, but it is a bit overwhelming for all involved.
Advice: Focus on solidifying one programmatic level at a time. And have your learning community learn the precepts of RTI rather than a model, so your model can be customized, but still reflect the purpose.”
“I’m a 1st grade teacher. IDEA, NCLB, and RTI are bringing down our school. We don’t have the resources and teachers have not been trained to implement the district adopted approaches to do the Tier tutoring. …”
“I am in a parochial school and we are trying to implement RTI. (The state forced the county system to adopt it.) But my school does not have a testing system that can be used in all grades, K-8, making the collection of “scientific data” impossible. It’s a classic example of putting the cart before the horse. No tools in place but the program is started. The referrals are usually based on experienced instinct of the teacher but no consistent data is given.
In theory, RTI had many positive advantages. But getting supportive data is slowing us. …”
“We are a K-8 Chinese immersion school and have had an RTI program for the past five years that targets our K-5 students who are struggling readers. Students are identified by their classroom teacher, and K-1 students receive 60 minutes of individual tutoring per week, while two to five students receive 90 minutes of small group tutoring and, if needed, up to 60 minutes of individual tutoring per week. Students are pulled out of class for tutoring, which is done by myself (a resource teacher) and part-time tutors recruited from a local university. The curriculum includes phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, spelling, fluency, comprehension, and writing. We have found commercially available instructional materials that are effective and we have created a “tutoring manual” which guides the tutors in working with students. Key to our instruction is data from quarterly assessments of the above mentioned skills; this data allows us to individualize the tutoring for each student and to improve our curriculum, which is a “work in progress.” As a measure of the effectiveness of the program, 94 percent of the students who have been in tutoring achieve grade-level reading comprehension by the end of 5th grade. Looking at grade-level cohorts, the California state test results show that the group average score taken over three years improves by about 50 points and from low “Basic” to “Proficient.” The program has worked because of strong administrative support, close collaboration between classroom teachers and tutoring staff, and intervention starting in kindergarten.”
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A version of this article appeared in the April 12, 2010 edition of Teacher PD Sourcebook as RTI Experiences