Online RtI platform gives teachers more time to teach
Janna Payne Sells remembers well “the crate”—a 75-pound behemoth crammed with 200-plus folders she needed to review as instructional facilitator for an inner-city, dual-immersion, Title I elementary school.
Sells, now district MTSS coordinator for the 20,000-student Iredell-Statesville Schools in North Carolina, also remembers her initial reaction to RtI: Stored!, an online platform that houses all data and documentation collected and completed through the Response to Intervention/Multi-Tier System of Supports process.
“I remember thinking, ‘Hallelujah!’” Sells says, recalling the day in 2015 when she started exploring the new technology in her district K5 building. “Instead of lugging this heavy crate everywhere, I could carry just my laptop. I could work at home. And this was before I knew it would completely reform my PLCs.”
More than simply data and documentation collection, RtI: Stored! uses color-coded levels of support, date-stamped timelines and accountability measures to track intervention efforts. Students cannot move up or down tiers without the data and documentation required by the district.
That customization, along with the emphasis on conversation and collaboration, distinguished RtI: Stored! from its competitors, Sells says.
“Other programs were more of a free-for-all. You could upload anything—like a digital warehouse,” she says. “There wasn’t a guideline or system. And we love the collaboration, the departmental conversations. EC/SPED teachers and ELL teachers see what is happening with students in the general education classroom; it breaks down barriers.”
It also allows teachers and staff to make objective decisions, rather than rely on the gut-inspired referrals that used to determine whether a child would be considered for an Exceptional Children (Special Education) service, Sells says.
“Teachers now have true data-driven conversations,” she says. “They pull up data from RtI: Stored! and ask if what we are doing is working, and if not, let’s talk about strategies to fix this. It allows us to look at every individual student and make sure no child falls between the cracks because we didn’t realize they were struggling.”
The RtI: Stored! structure also improved teachers’ understanding of MTSS, she says.
“When we were using paper, it was just checklists and pieces of paper thrown into a folder,” Sells says. “The platform took the burden off teachers to remember what to do or how to word something. It let them focus on the true meaning of MTSS, which is helping students who are struggling.”
“More time is now focused on instruction and what’s happening in the classroom,” Sells says. “The workload is the same, but the time spent has drastically decreased. There is all kinds of functionality; the system autopopulates. We no longer spend hours organizing folders or searching for a document.”
RtI: Stored! is accessible from anywhere, eliminating expensive and time-consuming travel, and improving outcomes when a student changes schools within a district, or moves to another district that also uses the platform.
“We have a transient population in our four inner-city schools,” Sells says. “RtI: Stored! updates every night, so the first morning a student attends a new school, the new teacher has access to exactly what has been done. We aren’t losing any time, so students aren’t falling behind when they move.”
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