A Middle School Principal’s Perspective: Getting Started Implementing RTI

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    By the time we completed our winter benchmarks with 4Sight and began to see positive results from the use of RtI, things could not have been going better.  Then we received another piece of good news:

    Right after we returned from winter break, I was contacted by our district coordinator of school psychologists.  You may remember she was the one who had first brought the idea of using RtI in the middle school to me almost a year prior to this time.  I remember when she called me thinking that something was up.  I could tell it in her voice.  Unbeknownst to me, she had applied for our school to be a part of a pilot program taking place on a state level.  The department of education in our state was sponsoring a “Secondary RtI Learning Site Project.” Six schools from across Pennsylvania would be selected to help study the efficacy of the Response to Intervention framework in a secondary setting.  Well, she must have done a great job with the application because she was calling to tell me that we had been accepted!

    This project was being coordinated through the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN).  From the moment we sat down at the first meeting with the other five schools, I knew that this was going to be a great opportunity for us to refine our program and make it even more successful.  We were getting a chance to get trained by state and national RtI experts, while also learning about the framework in place at the other middle schools implementing RtI.  As if that was not wonderful enough, the state was also giving us a $10,000 grant to spend on training, supplies or contracted services.  Needless to say, we were very excited leaving that first meeting.

    Soon after this first meeting, I made another trip to the state capital to make the first of what would be many presentations about the success of our program.  The same PaTTAN office was hosting an “RtI Statewide Workgroup Session.”  In addition to presenters from other school districts, this session was also attended by members of the state department of education, university professionals, and the state PTA president.  Again this was another chance to not only share what we were doing, but to also hear about what was happening in other schools.  It was also an opportunity to get feedback on our program from some high-ranking members of the state RtI community.

    Back at school, we were starting to see advances in the newly-formed 7th and 8th grade programs.  As you may remember, we expanded our program from just 6th grade into the other two grades based on some of the success that we were seeing at that level.  In just two months, over a third of the 7th and 8th graders involved had moved into a “less intensive” intervention.  Along with that, about half of the students getting an intervention had moved up to proficient or advanced in our 4Sight benchmark tests.

    With the success in our program and recognition that we were getting from across the state, excitement continued to build at our school and district.  Little did we know that even more positive events were in store for us in the future.
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