When implemented correctly, Response to Intervention (RTI) has a proven record of providing effective remediation and support to struggling students. RTI doesn’t have to be complicated or cumbersome, but you will need to address concerns with your staff and other stakeholders before the wheels start going in motion.
Lay out a simple and easy-to-understand process for each stakeholder
Although not quite to the point of a stereotype, teachers are oftent slow to embrace change if it means more output with no guarantee of results (and with reason). Make a conscious effort to iron out the kinks on paper and thoroughly explain the value to your staff before putting anything into practice.
You and your fellow administrators must first establish the broad outline for RTI at your school and then listen as the teachers bring up their concerns and specialized scenarios. They will mention specific students and circumstances. Answering those questions and concerns with understanding and support will go a long way toward universal buy-in.
Clearly define each staff member's role prior to implementation
Many schools find that RTI helps classroom educators and support staff (special education, math and literacy coaches, etc.) work together more closely toward a more common goal. Your staff will soon see the value of this cohesive development, but for this to happen, everyone needs a clearly defined role within the Response to Intervention construct.
For instance, a major intervention in tier 2 involves students being pulled out of the main classroom by support staff for additional reinforcement and support. All stakeholders must understand this is not a disciplinary function and the only reason the select students will leave the room is to receive further instructional help from support staff members.
Be specific in the goals and directives of the three tiers
As you know, RTI is made up of three tiers that describe what assistance is required for students at various levels. Although you can find guidelines for what behaviors and performance standards qualify for each tier, you need to modify those guidelines to fit your school’s needs while making them as specific as possible.
Here's why: when implementing any comprehensive learning program like RTI, ambiguity can cause a lot of problems with staff and students. If your school/district has well-defined roles and strategies for each and every stakeholder (including parents, guardians, and any at-home support), the chance for students (and staff) to become lost in the process greatly decreases.
Remember, the main goal of RTI is to provide students with the needed support beyond the traditional classroom environment, in effort to reach their individual learning goals. If each and every key member, students included, doesn't understand who or how the support will be provided, that chance of success and achievement is greatly decreased.
Establish how decisions are made, who makes them, and why they are made
One of the reasons for RTI’s broad success is that very few decisions rely on judgment calls. Because RTI dictates that students move between the tiers based on sound data and assessment, the dependency on emotional or behavioral opinions gets left behind.
This means (unless you have a resident data scientist that works 80 hours a week) your school would be wise to invest in a educational technology solution that assists in the capture of useful student data. The easy-to-use prescriptive data, when combined with your already-established RTI roles, process, and goals, will help your staff eliminate the abiguidty of "who" and "why".
That being said, we’re talking about students and there are always special cases and grey areas. Be cognizant of who makes the decisions regarding those students and the process behind the decisions.
Share your Response to Intervention Success Stories
As you know, the execution of RTI varies from school to school. What tips could you give schools preparing to implement or revamp their RTI program? What impediments from staff and/or students did you encounter during your own RTI experiences?