Administrators at Greeley-Evans School District 6, in Colorado, are working with Spectrum K12 to implement EXCED/RTI ? to help manage their Response to Intervention process. Vicki Hubbard, the district’s executive director for exceptional student services, spoke with Achievement Today about their experiences with RTI .
What’s happening with RTI at your school district?
This is our foundation for all instruction for all students. We believe that all students should have intervention and support without a “label” or qualifying for a program at any time that it is appropriate. In order for us to be responsive to students, the district designed district-wide instructional schedules, curriculum and data dialogue sessions to ensure differentiated instruction occurs. It is through purposeful data-driven decision-making that student needs are being met.
When did you start with RTI?
Three years ago our district was put on the state “watch” list due to low student performance. With new leadership, the district launched a focus on literacy for all children and began its RTI intiative. The efforts paid off as the district saw significant student gains in the scores on the Colorado Student Assessment Program. As a result the Colorado Department of Education took the district off of “watch” status last year.
How far has RTI come in that time?
RTI is very solid in all of our elementary schools. This past year it has begun in middle and high school. The middle and high schools are not at the same level of implementation as the elementary schools but the energy and training are in place to make it happen. Through the partnership of general education and special education staff training was provided for school teams this summer to understand and implement RTI uniformly through the district. The district has established a unified general education process for the schools to use. The common language and process are supported through the Student and Teacher Assistance and Resource (STAR) teams.
Did the faculty embrace this enthusiastically or were there challenges?
Some teachers felt in the beginning that they had lost their ability to make individual decisions. But when they started seeing the growth the kids were making in their learning, they became very enthusiastic. It has taken three years of strong building and central administration leadership and tenacity to stay the course to realize the wonderful results we’re seeing today. In addition, the Board of Education for the district has and continues to support these efforts. They actively visit the schools, observe the instruction, and communicate to the community the positive direction of student success the district is experiencing.
How have you been managing and accessing all the data that’s required to successfully use RTI?
We have different testing pieces like DIBELS, and we also use other data sources on tracking student growth. We have elementary early-release meetings on Mondays devoted to staff reviewing and evaluating the data we gather on kids. We’ve been using spread sheets and data boards to collect and view the data. It provides a visible system to flexibly assign students to the appropriate instructional focus groups and maintain solid progress monitoring. It would be nice to have all data solidified into one system so at any given moment you have real-time information for whoever needs it.
Is that coming down the pike?
That’s our intent with EXCEED/RTI, which we’re about to start piloting. We’re all working very hard with many different systems that require multiple steps to gather data. We do not have one tool that conveys the entire picture. We’re hoping to get that with this new pilot program.
How would that benefit students?
At any time, a principal, teacher or parent could use or view this tool and feel very secure in the knowledge that everything that was supposed to be provided to the student actually was, and that we were making the high quality educational decisions we have to make on student programming. We never had a system that did that without being labor intensive, time intensive and money intensive. I expect that EXCEED/RTI will give us the ability and quality time to quickly and efficiently make good decisions for our students.