As the new school year quickly approaches I have begun to think about the students that I will teach this school year. Last school year I had several students that missed the passing standard by 2-10 points. Needless to say, when I saw their test scores I was heartbroken because in the back of my mind I knew that if these students had interventions in place and were progress monitored they probably would have passed and not fallen short. As a veteran teacher I came from a district and school that trained their teachers and had a plan for implementing response to intervention, however I do realize that this is may not be every teacher’s experience.
What is RTI?
RTI or response to intervention is the practice of providing instruction/intervention that matches the student’s need. The process can be seen as a three-tiered model of prevention for all students within a school. Each tier represents the instructional level of students at the school or in a classroom. The components of RTI are: administrative support for the model, a progress monitoring measurement tool and a grade based teams that meet regularly to review data as it pertains to student progress.
Last year the school that I worked at did not have a plan for implementing the RTI model. So, at the beginning of the year I took it upon myself to group my students into three tiers. I used 3 triangles as a visual and wrote the students names inside of each triangle. Since I work at a low performing school my largest group of students were my Tier 2 students. I call these students my bubble students because as much as I would like to predict what their achievement would be from day to day, they tend to bounce around like a bubble. Some days they get it and other days it’s like they act as if they this was their first time seeing the material. My smallest group was my Tier 3 students because these were students who were 2 or more grade levels behind. The Tier 1 students or benchmark students were my group of students that were on grade level. These groups were not set in stone because I noticed as I taught concepts some of my Tier 2 students became Tier 1 students and Tier 3 students became Tier 2 students (there were not many).
I started the school year with very good intentions of providing the much needed interventions that my Tier 2 students needed and to progress monitor them, but as is sometimes happens the school year took on a life of its own. This proved to be an obstacle that I could not overcome and so I ended up with students who were close to passing but didn’t.
Well, a new school year is almost here and what I learned from last school year is that I needed a progress monitoring tool that is readily available. This new tool is a book that I received at a professional development on formative assessment. It is a Godsend!
Uncovering Student Thinking About Mathematics has a probe for every skill in curriculum for grades 3-5. If I find myself in the same situation as the previous year, I plan on implementing the RTI model by grouping my students into the different tiers like I did from the previous year and then as I teach and assess a skill I will provide interventions for those students and then progress monitor those students with a probe from the book. I am anticipating some hiccups because Tier 2 students should be progress monitored every 4 weeks and Tier 3 students should be progress monitored weekly. I know that this will be a challenge but the pay off will be great at the end of the year because I will not have to rely on the school to provide interventions and data for my students and hopefully I will have many more students pass as opposed to almost passing the iLEAP test.