Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Aligning a Response to Intervention System with Required Teacher Competencies

In collaboration with a multidimensional team of stakeholders that includes parents or guardians, a crosswalk between the correlates of Effective Schools Research and tenets of an effective Response to Intervention (RTI) program allows RTI to become an efficient and effective system.  This promotes equity in quality within schools committed to the pursuit of learning for all.  While there is a danger to prescribing interventions in a limiting fashion, RTI anthologies have the potential for providing a clearinghouse of research-based and success-proven strategies and interventions.  
Subsequent alignment of the district's non-negotiable goals with individual school needs and experiences (Marzano & Waters, 2009) should expand rather than limit the district's clearinghouse of research-based and success-proven strategies and interventions.  Promoting such a clearinghouse of identified successes ensures professional development is available.  This optimizes access, review, and implementation of a range of interventions, thereby enriching teachers through defined autonomy.
The core competency required for effective implementation of RTI interventions is the ability to correctly collect, analyze, and utilize data.  For many prospective and in-service teachers, data equates to math.  Unfortunately, too many teachers are uncomfortable with mathematics.  To address this, we will eventually need to recognize this country's math scores are related to too many teachers being over reliant on the text book rather than proficiency in "thinking mathematically” (Edelmuth, 2006)
Therefore, Schools of Education and Alternate Route Teacher Preparation Programs need to ensure graduates are able to collect data, evaluate results, and be an honest consumer of the resulting data.  This becomes possible through better statistics and data analysis courses for prospective teachers.  Effective districts will need to complement this evolution through in-service professional development on collecting data, evaluating results, and being an honest consumer of the resulting data.
Frequent monitoring of student progress, and adjusting as indicated by results, is a correlate of continuous school improvement within Effective Schools.  This correlate requires teacher competency in collecting data, evaluating results, and being an honest consumer of the resulting data.  When teachers identify and prescribe an intervention, they often have difficulty accepting the need to change (adjust) if the prescribed intervention proves ineffective.  Too often the failure of the intervention is perceived a personal failure of the initial prescription, which can then delay the necessary adjustment.  For this reason, a district and school is well-advised to consider the following six ideas for successful development of an effective RTI system:
  1. Encourage participation by key stakeholders during planning and implementation.
  2. Elicit strong administrative support in staff development, instructional integrity, and data collection.
  3. Provide in-depth staff development with mentoring, modeling, and coaching.
  4. Begin follow-up trainings at the beginning of each school year.
  5. Distribute a manual outlining procedures and materials.
  6. Build Problem Solving Models including RTI into school schedules and the student improvement process (Lau, Sieler, Muyskens, et al, 2006).
Implementation of the effective RTI system can then begin.  However, potential problems will be omnipresent without administrative support and ongoing professional development.  The following core principles identify potential challenges for implementing RTI.   
  • effectively teaches each and every student,
  •  provides early intervention,
  • uses a multi-tier model of service delivery,
  • uses a problem-solving method to make decisions within the multi-tier model,
  • uses research-based validated interventions/instruction,
  • monitors student progress to inform instruction,
  • uses data to make decisions, and
  • uses assessment for three purposes: screening, diagnostics, and progress monitoring.
      Both pre-service and in-service teachers openly admit to the difficulty of monitoring student progress to inform instructional decisions.  The inter-relationship between the identified core principles makes the pursuit of a hierarchy subjective at best and futile at worst.  The correlate of frequent monitoring and subsequent adjustment drives the core principles for implementing RTI.  The ability to collect data, evaluate results, and be an honest consumer of the resulting data promotes the correlate of frequent monitoring and subsequent adjustment.  Teacher proficiency with data must therefore become a professional competency. 

To cite:
Anderson, C.J. (December 4, 2012) Aligning a response to intervention system with teacher
            competencies [Web log post] Retrieved from http://www.ucan-cja.blogspot.com/

Edmonds, R. (1979). Effective Schools for the urban poor. Educational Leadership, 37,
Lau, Sieler, Muyskens, Canter, VanKeuren, & Marston (2006).  Perspectives on the use of 
            the Problem-Solving Model from the viewpoint of school psychologist, administrator, and
            teacher. Psychology in the Schools, 43 (1), 117-127.
Marzano, R. & Waters, T.(2009).  District leadership that works. Bloomington, In: Solution
            Tree Press

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