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Chapter 3: Problem-Solving Teams

Robert Howell Solution Tree Press ePub

Problem-Solving Teams (PSTs) are not child study teams as in special education. PSTs use data to discern current issues that exacerbate failure, discover the root cause or primary problem(s), and create a continuous improvement process to close the gap between a child’s performance and grade level, national norm, or expected achievement.

Many terms have been used to refer to an RTI team, including instructional support team, intervention assistance team, building-level team, and student support team. In this book, the term Problem-Solving Team (PST) will be used to encompass all such teams that utilize the RTI process.

RTI Problem-Solving Teams usually go in one of two directions. Some struggle to create the forms and processes for implementing RTI. This concrete step feels safe and logical when establishing a new school system. The downside is that teams may spend an entire semester focused on processes rather than on helping students. Other PSTs jump right in and start problem-solving for students. This mode usually produces positive student results, which move other building staff to support RTI. However, without a honed problem-solving process, the PST will be unable to effectively make recommendations for every low-performing child. Thus, we propose that PSTs learn and practice root cause analysis as a way to create a problem-solving process while immediately serving students.

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Chapter 4: Interventions

Robert Howell Solution Tree Press ePub

An intervention is a new strategy or modification of instruction or behavior management designed to help a student or group of students improve performance relative to a specific goal.

The tiered Response to Intervention model is characterized by more intensive interventions and more frequent data collection as students move up the tiered continuum. Figure 4-1 (also shown in chapter 1) represents the common RTI pyramid, but school districts can benefit from developing their own “triangle” perspective and verbiage.

Figure 4-1. RTI Multitiered Intervention Model

Tier 1 or the universal tier is the general education classroom. It is characterized by high-quality instructional and behavioral supports that allow all students to reach proficiency as measured on high-stakes tests. Every classroom teacher uses a wide variety of interventions on a daily basis. The RTI model, however, organizes and assesses interventions that are available from the school’s inventory and identifies which are based on research. The interventions are then organized into tiers with recommendations for frequency, intensity, and duration. Research-based interventions have many characteristics, including:

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Chapter 8: Evaluation

Robert Howell Solution Tree Press ePub

Evaluation empowers decision- making. It begins with determining root causes or issues contributing to the success or failure of RTI in the areas of leadership, management, curriculum, instruction, and assessment.

We conducted extensive research on RTI and discovered that little evaluation or research exists on the efficacy of RTI as a system designed to improve student achievement, particularly when implemented across an entire school district. Research does exist on the high positive correlation between early intervention and student achievement (Foorman, 2003; Scanlon, Vellutino, Small, Fanuele, & Sweeney, 2003; Torgesen, 2000; Torgesen, Rose, Lindamood, Conway, & Garvan, 1999; Vellutino, Scanlon, Sipay, Small, Pratt, Chen, & Denckla, 1996). However, we needed to know if and how RTI functions systemically. What constitutes the measurement of RTI as successful or unsuccessful? What facilitates success of RTI in systems, and what inhibits it? What are the pitfalls and assets to RTI development, particularly in large school districts? This chapter addresses four areas of evaluation and research: 1) student outcomes, 2) consumer acceptability, 3) systems change, and 4) fidelity of systemic RTI implementation. Data on progress in each area are provided, with particular focus on student achievement and systems change. We present some initial findings at the end of the chapter, with cautions and recommendations to leaders of RTI in schools, districts, and state offices of education. Our findings represent only a small sampling of what is possible to attain and the types of data a district might want to capture.

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Chapter 1: Common Questions About RTI

Robert Howell Solution Tree Press ePub

All adults involved in the education of students must believe and act on the belief that all students will perform at high levels, although not always in the same timeframe or with the same strategies.

The 1975 enactment and implementation of Public Law 94-142, the Education of All Handicapped Children Act, now codified as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), required states and local educational agencies (school districts) across America to guarantee a free and appropriate public education to children identified as having learning disabilities. Millions of dollars have been spent on the education of children with disabilities, yet problems remain. High dropout rates, low college attendance, and underemployment are endemic characteristics of the population of students identified as having learning disabilities.

Underperformance by American youth is not limited to students with learning disabilities. Poor student outcomes are rampant in the population of those American youth who may not have qualified as disabled through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504, or special education. Poor outcomes demand attention for a redesign of services not only for students with learning disabilities, but also for those students who do not obtain proficiency in basic skills prior to leaving high school. In most cases, those students without learning disabilities are predominately of low-income, minority, or English-language learner (ELL) populations.

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Chapter 2: Leadership

Robert Howell Solution Tree Press ePub

In order for RTI to be effective in raising student achievement, strong leadership must be provided by the board of education, the superintendent and his or her staff, and school principals and staff.

Educational leaders commonly attempt to downplay the far-reaching requirements of leading change for RTI. RTI is educational reform; it is not as often described as just good instruction, nor just reframing what we already do, in different terms. It takes brave, risk-taking leaders to develop environments where RTI will be successful. Of course, the only reason to implement RTI is to aggressively improve student achievement, particularly for those groups who fall at the lower end of the achievement gap. Therefore, dramatic change in the results of student achievement will most often require dramatically different functioning on the part of people involved in educational systems—teachers, administrators, support staff, boards of education, superintendents, and central office staff. These kinds of changes take powerful leaders who know how to support and lead educational reform successfully.

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