Adventures in RTI (part two)

My apologies if this seems disjointed from my other RTI post; however, when I was considering what to write about today, I realized there are some great resources available and I wanted to share.

As most everyone (at least here in the states) is aware, RTI is huge. It’s also very hard to implement well. Many times it seems as though RTI is implemented and then nothing happens. The students receive some help, but no one is quite sure if the data being taken is correct, if the intervention is the right intervention for the problem, or what to do once progress is (or isn’t) seen.

My school has been doing RTI for a few years now and we have experienced (and if I’m honest still experience) the RTI paralysis that happens when no one is quite sure what to do next or is willing to make the decision for the next step. At the conference I just attended, battling the RTI paralysis was the subject of at least three different sessions. Which is kind of nice because not only did I get some great ideas and food for thought, it helped me realize that our school is not the only one experiencing it and I shouldn’t get frustrated.For those of you unfamiliar with how RTI works (or with how our RTI works), you can read about it here.

To implement RTI, an RTI team is usually in place. For our school the RTI team is a great mix of Title I, SPED, Administration, Regular Ed, and myself. I personally think it’s important to have the SLP on the team because we often can see different causes for a student’s challenge (is Johnny’s behavior due to language difficulties; is Susie’s math problems because of comprehension?).

At my school we are small enough that we have “planning meetings” every day. These are pre-set and put in the teacher’s schedule. So, for instance, on Mondays the RTI team will work with Kindergarten. We will meet for 30 minutes to discuss any concerns the teachers have with certain students and devise a plan of action. Each day of the week has other grades (Tuesday: 1st grade, Wednesdays: 2nd grade, etc.). The older elementary (grades 4, 5, 6) meet together on one day as there is usually less general problems and more specific problems to discuss.

One of the great things about planning meetings is that long before a child is identified as qualifying for special education, his or her name has come up countless times and every person on the team is familiar with his or her unique learning challenges. There are no kids lost in the cracks of the system (ideally) because we are discussing weekly how things are going for that student.

There are; however, students that are in a state of paralysis. These are the kids that are managing in the classroom but have to work really hard for that minimal success…or the kid that receives help from Title I services month after month and year after year…or the kid that doesn’t have the data to support moving to the next level of RTI (this is my pet peeve and the subject of another post later!). These kids may even show some growth in the skills they need – but the growth isn’t enough to get them caught up with their peers. The student is getting help, they have been identified as struggling and are making some progress so they haven’t “fallen through the cracks” but is it the right type of help, is it enough help for their continued success? As wonderful as RTI can be, there are some students that still need special education and a reluctance to admit that need continues to exist. The kids are in a state of RTI paralysis or limbo.

My school is constantly on the lookout for resources to keep RTI on track and try to help eliminate that RTI Paralysis. One source of information that has been very valuable to the RTI team at my school is “The RTI Guy” Pat Quinn. Pat has a great website devoted to helping teams create functional RTI in their schools. You can check it out here and sign up for Pat’s RTI Newsletter. The news letter often features question/answer sections where Pat answers (and explains the “why” of the answers) questions posed to him by RTI Teams. He often has great links that are available as well. For instance, in a recent newsletter, Pat had discussed RTI forms and has since taken a few and posted them so everyone can see them and use them to generate ideas for their own forms. Those can be seen here.

I strongly suggest that if your school is implementing RTI and you haven’t signed up for Pat’s newsletter, that you do so. Not all of his suggestions will work for every school, but the questions and answers section is invaluable. Pat really demystifies RTI and explains it in very reader friendly terms. There are over 22,000 subscribers to the newsletter so there is a tremendous wealth of information being shared (and questions being asked!).

There are some great resources for RTI (provided by Pat in a recent newsletter). I have not read all of these books, but they are on my wish list.

Dr. Jordan Reeves Walker Classroom Management techniques

Richad Korb’s Motivating Defiant and Disruptive Students to Learn

Helping Hispanic Students Succeed

Every year we have RTI I see big changes in our school. Teachers are getting behind the process and less resistant to taking data, parents are rejoicing over having less stigma associated with RTI than Special Education, and students are succeeding.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on RTI. Are you part of the team? What role do you take? What problem areas do you see? What do your school do well?

Until then… Adventure on!



2 thoughts on “Adventures in RTI (part two)

  1. Wow, RTI does sound interesting! We don’t have anything comparable here in Canada that I know of. And there are plenty of times that I get a referral for a school kid who probably doesn’t need an SLP, but the teacher just didn’t know what small stuff they are really capable of doing!

    • Janelle, you are officially awesome.
      There are a lot of articulation and language skills that can be learned through differentiated instruction in the classroom…but it’s hard to get teachers to go along with it.

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