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Response To Intervention (RTI) initiative leads to student success
Response To Intervention (RTI) initiative leads to student success
Posted on 11/09/2017
Response To Intervention (RTI) initiative leads to student success

It begins with identifying benchmarks, setting goals, and developing measurable outcomes. The purpose is to help each student be successful in meeting key grade level learning targets — known as Essential Standards.

While helping students meet learning targets is not new, it has become a purposeful initiative in Puyallup to set specific learning goals, measure if they are being met, and take steps to intervene for students needing additional instruction.

The Response To Intervention (RTI) initiative launched by the district a few years ago focuses on screening students in reading and math to measure their progress in meeting specific Essential Standards. Assessment tests are administered throughout the school year. The information is used to assess students' academic needs and intervene with targeted instruction. Students are reassessed regularly and are moved to different levels as needed.  

Teachers within each grade level and content area work together using formative assessments to identify individual student needs and strengths in meeting grade level standards. “If students do well we know they will benefit from core instruction they receive every day in the classroom,” said Vince Pecchia, Chief Instructional Leadership Officer.

If a student demonstrates that he or she is struggling academically teachers work to determine why. They use diagnostic assessments to further pinpoint issues. For example, in reading they may find the student reads fluently yet may not be comprehending, or if they are not reading fluently it may be they are not grasping phonics. They do the same for math — perhaps the student is struggling with basic facts.

One of the key components of RTI is what happens next. Teachers work together to identify and intervene with students not meeting learning targets. Most elementary schools have specific time built in the day for students who need intervention and for those receiving enrichment.

At Spinning Elementary, for example, first grade teachers Tianna Thaanum, Adriana Gonzalez, Mandy Keller, and LAP teacher Darcy Holland met recently to review mid-point data from a recent assessment. Each student is assigned to a group based on assessment scores. The team of teachers review each student’s score. The progress of some students is discussed in detail and some are moved to different groups.

Spinning teachersSpinning teachers from left: Darcy Holland, Adriana Gonzalez, Mandy Keller, and Tianna Thaanum

Thaanum explained the teachers met last August and mapped out the RTI plan for the year. They chose five specific Essential Standards to target for the school year. This doesn’t mean they don’t teach all standards, it means they assess and provide intensive instruction with the goal of getting at least 85 percent of students to meet the specific standards. One part of a teacher’s annual evaluation is based on the success of students meeting goals set by the teacher.

Junior high and high schools are also making concerted effort to assess students and design interventions into daily class periods or designated blocks of time. 

Asked about the impact of RTI on the district, Pecchia said, “It impacts our schools, our teachers, and the entire staff. It’s really the entire school’s responsibility to make sure each student is ready for the next level — all are held accountable. We all take ownership in that, and we all feel responsible. That’s a culture shift. It’s all in for all kids. You don’t find that everywhere, but you find it here.”

Nancy French