RTI Planning

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    I am often asked about how my school plans for all the different tiers of interventions we have at Ocean View. To be honest, we are finding an ever increasing need for more and more planning as we move deeper and deeper into RTI. We have also learned that flexibility is essential. Monitoring of on-going data drives the need to make constant changes, both to intervention group membership and to schedules.

    Intervention planning begins in the summer. Ocean View's Lead Data Team meets in July to review our state accountability test data for our elementary grades (3 to 5) and PALS data for our primary grades (K to 2). We really pick these data apart. We disaggregate by all our subgroups (race, socioeconomic, gender, special education, ESL, gifted), not only by the overall content area test or even strand (for example: Math–Number Sense), but often down to each question using a report called "Student Response by Question." For example, this summer we found that the drop in the third and fifth grade science proficiency rates on the 2009 test was due in large part to the non-proficiency of some of our special education students (white special education boys in grade 5, for example) and that their problem was a lack of deep understanding of life processes, particularly cell and plant structures.

    With this information, we know to plan professional development for all our teachers in this specific science strand with extra support provided for our special education teachers. In fact, at this time all our professional development for the entire first semester is planned using the end of year summative data. This year our data showed a need to focus on the following areas: word analysis in reading in all grades, the writing process in writing across grade levels, number sense in K–2, computation and estimation in grades 3- 5 in math, life processes in all grades in science, history of early civilizations in grade 3, and geography in grade 5 in social studies. All school-wide professional development at Ocean View for the 2009-2010 school year is tied to these data. Individual teachers are also provided additional support based on any other needs identified in their own class data, both on the previous year's summative data and on incoming data from the current year.

    Once we have developed a professional development plan to meet the needs of our teachers, we turn our attention to identifying and planning intervention for our Tier 2 and Tier 3 students. We use two sources for initial identification of these students for support in September. First, we use our previous year's summative data that we review during our summer meeting. Next, we use the data we collect from our Universal Assessments given during the first week of school. For this, we looked for a tool that was quick and easy to administer and score. We chose STAR Reading for grades 2–5 and STAR Math for grades 3–5. For kindergarten (tested in October) and first grade, we use PALS data in phonics and sight word lists to identify our students in reading. We have not yet found a good tool for first and second grade math. Instead, we wait for our in-house common formative assessments (CFAs) given at the end of September to begin identification in these grade levels for intervention support in math in October. If anyone has a suggestion for a universal assessment for math in first and second grade, please let me know. It would be a great help.

    With this information, we assign students achieving 1/2 year or more below grade level to Tier 2 reading (grades 1–5) and math (grades 3–5) literacy groups to receive a daily double dose lesson. Literacy students functioning more than a year below grade level also receive a triple dose lesson 2–4 times a week in a 1 on 1 or 2 setting with a sharp focus on any sub-skill that they missed on our monthly power standard CFA.

    Before you ask — yes, this is a lot of work with the constant tracking, changing memberships, changing schedules, and even changing the intervention program itself on an almost monthly basis. Success requires continuous assessment and data analysis. It's hard work. But, in an urban school district with challenging demographics, high student achievement never comes easy and the pay off in student proficiency rates is worth every long day. At Ocean View, we always insist that our demographics should never predict the achievement of our students. However, as in any school, demographics can predict just how hard we must work.

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