ARE SCHOOL DISTRICTS DOING A GOOD JOB AT IMPLEMENTING RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION?
And how can administrators measure the success of their intervention strategies? To find out, Achievement Today interviewed David P. Riley, executive director of the Urban Special Education Leadership Collaborative.
How effectively are districts implementing RTI?
The greatest challenge districts have in implementing RTI is scaling it across all schools in a district, and being clear that this is the way in which business will be conducted. Then, they must provide the appropriate training and support to school administrators and teachers as they adopt these new strategies and tools. My experience right now is that RTI is very much in a school-by-school adoption process.
What obstacles do districts face in measuring the success of intervention strategies?
One of the major obstacles administrators face is having the technological support available so teachers can collect the kind of data they need to determine student progress. They also need to obtain results in a timely fashion so they can adjust the intervention if necessary.
So, technology is the key?
Yes. In the past, we would collect data over time and study the results at six-week or quarterly intervals. That’s a lot of time in the life of a child. So some of these easy-to-implement probes that are becoming available will help the teacher make more timely interventions. It’s a whole new way of thinking: the teacher as strategist and data collector and analyst.
Are teachers embracing that role?
I think an increasing number are. Teachers are really driven by success. They want the child to succeed, and they want their strategies to succeed.
Is there a link between the frequency of use of an intervention strategy and student achievement?
I don’t know that it’s frequency of use—I think it’s the fidelity of use of the intervention strategy. Historically, we go from one curriculum to another curriculum and one reading series to another reading series without giving our teachers time to learn one before we adopt another. That could be said about adoptions of intervention strategies. They need to be implemented in a consistent manner and according to the way the intervention was designed. Otherwise, you can’t measure whether the progress or lack of progress the child is making is a result of the intervention strategy itself or some other variable.
How can a superintendent determine if the intervention strategies being used are working?
It’s all about the data and a feedback loop back to the interventionists, such as the school principals who would be supervising school-based personnel. That feedback loop is really critical, so collecting the data across schools needs to be done in a very efficient manner. They need tools to do that and thankfully there are some modern technologies available that will help them.
How should RTI be supported with professional development?
Professional development should be done teacher to teacher within the schools. You build a community of practitioners who are using data and are collecting it, sharing it, being supported in interpretations of data, supported in their practice and getting feedback from their colleagues. That’s the kind of professional development that’s needed. It’s not the kind that comes to mind; most educators think professional development is just going to a conference and sitting and listening to talking heads, and then going back to their respective schools to try and adopt a change in practice.