Also known as Adventures in RTI part 3…More commonly known as Huh? I have to do RTI?
I’ve been pondering RTI a lot since my conference in June. It’s hard to believe it’s been a month! While reading people’s comments about my previous post and talking with other SLPs, I’ve realized a couple of things: 1) There is a lot of confusion about RTI, 2) it’s not just my school that’s confused, and 3) There is a lot to RTI beyond the surface appearance. Hopefully, my post cleared up some confusion or at least didn’t generate too much new confusion.
Recently I was going over some of the information that I received at the conference, trying to formulate some ideas for the upcoming school year, when I happened across a handy little reference page from National Professional Resources, Inc.. Looking over the website, there are a lot of the laminated pages that would be very helpful. I’m definitely going to be requesting a few for my school (the one on data looks particularly promising). But, believe it or not, this post is not a free advertisement for the handouts (even if I do like them). It’s to talk about the teamwork required for RTI to be successful.
The RTI Team consists of school professionals who meet on a regular basis. Personally, I think that this sort of takes the place of the Building Level Support team or the Child Study Team of years gone by. Obviously the purpose of the group is to meet the educational needs of the child (and provide support to the teachers). According to the handout, the RTI Team needs to:
- evaluate students’ performance and teachers’ concerns
- review baseline data that has been collected
- determine goals and progress monitoring methods
- review and monitor
- develop a plan to discuss performance with parents
The RTI Team will vary depending on the needs of the school. However, it typically includes the:
- Principal or Assistant Principal
- Reading Teacher
- School Psychologist
- Speech-Language Pathologist
- General Education Teacher
- Special Education Teacher
At the RTI Conference, one of the speakers suggested the need for an RTI Coach. Someone who is trained in the laws regarding RTI (yes there are laws – who knew?) and who is able to help avoid the RTI Paralysis that always seems to set in at some point (but that’s the subject of another post). While I hate to add jobs to an already busy workload and I know most SLPs have more work than time….it may be that the SLP is uniquely skilled to be the “coach.”
According to the handout, the role of the SLP is as an expert in understanding the elements of “speech” and language development. As we all know, it’s impossible to solve a story problem in math, read a book, etc. without language. I believe the SLP’s role in RTI goes beyond this “speech” and “language” and encompasses the teamwork necessary for successful RTI.
The SLP’s role is also to help lead the collaboration that’s necessary. Many individuals have trouble with task analysis and determining where to start with a skill. Many teachers aren’t used to taking data the way it needs to be done for RTI. They may need help figuring which skill is lacking (is it vocabulary? is it decoding? is it attention? Is it reading fluency or comprehension?). The SLP is slightly outside the typical circle of educators and we have a unique perspective. Often we can see the whole picture where the teachers are too close (or overwhelmed) to see clearly.
In addition we, as SLPs, know when to say enough is enough and change interventions. To look critically at data and say “yes! the goal has been met” or “Yes, if we continue this way, we can expect the goal to be reached,” and “No. This kid is working hard but we are just not making enough progress and we need to change how we approach the problem.” We analyze data regularly to determine whether goals will be met, skills have been learned, and if it’s time to back off and reduce cueing. We are invested in the child, not the program or the mode of learning…or the ego. As educators, we need to remember to say, “If you haven’t learned this skill – I need to change the way I teach it” not “you’re not trying hard enough”…and that’s what RTI is all about.
As I prepare the next installment of this RTI series…I challenge each of you to think about how you can help the RTI process in your school. What is your role now? How can you do more to help build the collaborative team working together to help your students? What role do you feel SLPs have to play in RTI?
I’d love to hear your thoughts…
Until then…Adventure on!