Friday, January 3, 2014

Enhancing RTI

Douglas Fisher & Nancy Frey, ENHANCING RTI—How to Ensure Success with Effective Classroom Instruction and Intervention

I love this book. I have already read it once, highlighted key components as I read, re-read my anecdotal notes, and I know I must go back through it carefully at least one more time to digest its important message. The goal of an RTI model is to ensure that each and every student has access to learning. Fisher and Frey remind us, “This Response to Instruction and Intervention (RTI²) system is designed to change learner performance as a function of targeted instruction.” 

The term “RTI” is familiar to most educators and the author’s use of a comparison framework supports the reader’s understanding of an updated RTI model that integrates instruction and intervention. The hard question becomes evaluating which RTI scenario system is currently being implemented in your teaching and learning system and what steps are needed to move forward school-wide. 

The Traditional School
What is wrong with Adam?
The RTI School
How can we help Adam?
The RTI² School
How can focusing on Adam        help the system improve?
Equitable student achievement begins with high-quality core instruction focused on high expectations for student learning. Before recommending supplemental and intensive interventions, the RTI² model reminds us to begin with strong core instruction with a gradual release of responsibility to build student confidence and encourage independent learning. The work of Madelyn Hunter, Dr. Anita Archer, and Jo Robinson comes to mind as we think of the quality indicators of core instruction needed in each and every lesson; establishing a purpose (learning targets), teacher modeling, guided instruction, productive group work, and independent learning. Teachers and students each have responsibilities to promote the long term goal of “I do it. You do it. You do it together. You do it alone.”

This Release of Responsibility Model is not new, but needs to be revisited repeatedly to ensure these research based instructional routines are integral to quality teaching.

Sound instruction benefits all students, but what are the next steps when student’s progress begins to slide in an RTI² structure? Moving from how can we help Adam, to how can we help the system improve, requires aligning Tier 2 supplemental instruction with high quality core instruction and increasing the intensity of group size, time, assessments, and expertise. Tier 3 interventions are distinguished from Tier 2 by further intensifying the same above components with more individualized one-to-one instruction. Honestly, this is has become the most difficult task due to the lack of resources needed to implement an effective RTI² model. Difficult, but not impossible, and requires creativity and manipulation of funding and resources.

Important to note are the conditions necessary for interventions to make a difference, and actually are components needed for each Tier no matter the level.

ü  The teacher should play a critical role in assessment and instruction,
ü  The intervention should reflect a comprehensive approach to reading and writing,
ü  The intervention should be engaging,
ü  Interventions should be driven by useful and relevant assessments, and
ü  Interventions should include significant opportunities for authentic reading and writing.

“For RTI² to work, it has to become accepted and institutionalized, not a special program that individual teachers can opt into or out of. It has to be hardwired into the very culture of the school.” Richard DuFour, one of the founders of the Professional Learning Community model, reminds each educator to “Embrace Learning rather than Teaching as the fundamental purpose of your school.” The goal of an RTI² model is to ensure that each and every student has access to learning. Working collaboratively to “vary instruction and time in order to hold achievement constant,” will be challenging but rewarding.

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