Tuesday, August 25, 2009

RtI, Response to Intervention, and Reading

RtI is a wonderful concept that most good teachers have used in their own way for a long time. Now laws mandate that this be done for students and documented if a special education service such as Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) is to be pursued. Many corporations are implementing this in at least their lower grades for all students. Whenever mandates are involved, uniformity is demanded. Teachers who have been effectively monitoring progress and using results to guide more appropriately matched instruction often must now use the same system as everyone--one adopted by their corporation. Not everyone likes all components of any one system (I have problems with numbers of words said having anything to do with comprehension). There is something to be said for everyone being on the same page, especially since there tends to be more movement between schools of students who need these interventions. It is also critical that curriculum and monitoring tools are aligned with standards to insure everyone is covering the same material. Each teacher should be addressing the appropriate level and needs which are weak in the hierarchy of the 5 reading components: phonemic awareness, phonics instruction/alphabet principle, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension.

One problem that must be addressed is the time to do monitoring. While on paper, a minute for all students 3 times a year seems reasonable, it cannot be done well without adequate supervision of the class so the teacher doing progress monitoring can pay attention to what she is doing, and other students aren't losing instructional time. To adequately serve students on tier 2 and 3, where time for intervention and more frequent monitoring (up to once a week) is necessary, some classroom assistance is necessary to allow the teachers to focus on their small group instruction. Classroom teachers should work together to find ways to solve scheduling when lack of personnel exists.
RtI does provide measurable data about the success of interventions and encourages us as teachers to try varieties of research based methods that may be more effective for some students. In some cases, this will help a child achieve success that he might not otherwise have had and avoid the possibility of needing special education services later. On the other hand and under the old law, students had to establish specific discrepancy in order to qualify for services. He or she often had to be 3rd or 4th grade before the amount of material that should have been learned was enough to established a large enough discrepancy to qualify. In this case, oftentimes the child was failing. With RtI and documentation of unsuccessful progress with interventions, we can meet criteria earlier to provide more intense special education services and hopefully divert future failures.

No comments:

Post a Comment