What Is RTI?
RtI or Response to Intervention is an educational initiative that can be described as a multistep approach toward helping each individual student reach his or her maximum potential. RtI is a regular education initiative, designed to help students who struggle with learning concepts in areas like reading skills, get the assistance they need in the form of research-based instructional interventions applied at increasing levels of intensity. The RtI process has the potential to limit the incidence of academic failure that any student may experience. In order to identify those students who need assistance, universal screenings have been introduced in grades kindergarten through five. Unlike the PSSA, these assessments are aligned with national standards, and are meant to measure a student’s ability to learn, as opposed to assessing a student’s retention of material that has been previously taught. Assessment teams at the elementary schools will administer these benchmark assessments three times per year, and each individual student’s progress will be closely monitored by teachers and administrators.
One of these screening methods is the assessment of Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS). These are a set of procedures and measures for assessing acquisition of early literacy skills. They are designed to be short three-four minute measures used to gather important data on a student’s development of early literacy and reading skills. Another tool is the 4Sight test administered three times per year. The 4Sight testing is designed to determine whether or not students are reaching certain benchmarks with regard to literacy and math skills. This testing will employ the methods and style of the PSSA test. Monitored data gathered from the 4Sight tests will also be used to assist teachers and administrators in identifying students who will benefit from additional instructional interventions.
The initial introduction of RtI will require the gathering of this baseline data based on the administration of these assessments. Once the data is in place, individual student progress can be mapped in order to determine which students would benefit from additional interventions including small group instruction and/or more intensive assistance. Also, the results of Methacton’s performance on the PSSA tests reveal that many of Methacton’s students perform at or above proficiency. Many of these students would benefit from additional enrichment opportunities.
The varying levels of intensity prescribed within the RtI process are described as “tiers.” Students who meet benchmarks are in tier one. Students needing additional interventions in order to reach benchmarks are in tier two. Students in tier two will be given small group instruction using research-based instructional methods and tools designed especially for them, in order to give them the assistance they need within the framework of their regular school day. Since the students will continue to be monitored through the assessments, students who need more intense interventions will be in tier three. At this level, instruction can be offered in even smaller groups of two to three students at a time.
The information gathered by the RtI process can lead to earlier interventions for children who may experience difficulties and enrich students reaching grade level expectations.