So here we are, I have not written in a while but today after reading some interviews I was so excited to share.
I have been conducting a Response To Intervention (RTI) project for the last 2 years and the results have been impressive, I must say. At the end of the 1st year we have accounted for helping an additional 12% of students( K-5th grade) meet benchmark on oral reading fluency at their grade level. We have also studied the correlation between ORF and comprehension, and it is large (r=.78). We interviewed teachers last year to track the progress of the implementation from their perspective as a major stakeholder and learned so much. In a gist, they described themselves as “optimistically frustrated!”. There was a sense of using data to inform and drive instruction but time for processing and change was evident.
This year we continue our work and the students outcomes continue to increase. Special education referrals are down and teacher practices and data-informed decision making is evident every step of the way. Special education teachers and ELL specialists report less time on testing, evaluation, report writing, and meeting and double the amount of teaching! What an incredible outcome– Special Ed teachers teaching longer!!! I will continue writing but for now I wanted to let you thinking about this statement from a teacher asked about how RTI is impacted their practice:
How have the three tiers of intervention impacted your practice ?
Iâ€™ve definitely had to be a more thoughtful about planning and what activity each student is going to, rather than sending everyone to every literacy center. I have some students that donâ€™t get to go to another center, because they need to practice with something else more â€“ like letter naming or fluency.(K teacher)
How do you know â€œwhenâ€ to refer students?
“Umâ€¦I try different interventions first (Tier 2 then Tier 3). And I compare their progress to that of their peers and if the students seems to be significantly behind, like 2 grade levels, thatâ€™s a red flag and a reason to problem solve with my grade-level team members. If over time they arenâ€™t making any progress with the type of intensity of the intervention, that again says another red flag, then I think about how they may possibly need referral. Thinking about how their thinking and really working with them in small group and one-on-one to see where they are at it of the utmost importance before referring”. After all they are in K and come from a home where a different language is spoken! (K teacher)
For ELLs “I think if teachers are unaware of the challenges that ELLs face and some of their developmental trajectories learning a second language, like them not speaking for a few weeks because they need to absorb it all, it may make think you that they need SpEd, but if you take the time to get to know them as a learner and realize how services through RTI can be deliver thus providing extra English instructionthen you know you don't refer but give them the tools to learn English, BUT You Definitely have to know the characteristics of ELLs.
I will be back!
Professor Claudia Rinaldi is the Chair of the Education Program at Lasell University. Her areas of research are the implementation of the Multi-Tier System of Supports (MTSS) framework in urban settings with English learners, teacher education in bilingual special education, and diversifying the teacher pipeline. Claudia has authored peer-reviewed publications and a book for educators called Practical Ways to Engage All Struggling Readers. She lead and developed a graduate certificate program in Teaching Bilingual Students with Disabilities for general, ESL and special education teachers geared towards applying research-informed practices to the questions and processes of identifying whether it is a language difference or a learning disability. Claudia developed a college mentoring program called Pathways to Teacher Diversity for districts and teacher education programs to partner in identifying and supporting underrepresented high school students interested in teaching careers to successfully access and persist in college. She serves in various boards including the National Center for Learning Disabilities and serves as an expert for Understood.org and the National Center for Intensive Interventions.
Professor Claudia Rinaldi believes that it is critical to prepare teacher leaders who may serve as advocates and allies and who will respond to the belief that all students can learn and succeed beyond barriers like culture, language, disability poverty, and marginalization in our country and globally.