Public School 380: Brooklyn, New York

Sandi Feldman is a Senior Innovative Program Specialist and Wilson Language Trainer for the New York City Public Schools.  As a member of the Chief Achievement Office for Students with Disabilities and English Language Learners, Sandi provides professional development, coaching, consultation and support to teachers and school administrators.  In addition, Sandi currently coordinates New York City's Response to Intervention (RTI) Program in Early Literacy.  The program, which began as a two school pilot in 2007, has expanded to include 29 schools.

What did you do?

Public School 380 is an elementary school of 493 students located in Brooklyn, New York. All of the students are eligible for free or reduced lunch, 20% of the student population are English Language Learners, and 19% are students with disabilities.

While the elementary school was performing better than most schools in 2005-2006 (see chart below), there was still a high referral rate to special education and several students performing at Level 1-not meeting learning standards. The leadership was determined and committed to address the needs of these students.

2006 Grade 3 English Language Arts (ELA) Scores
Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Levels 3 & 4
PS 380 7.8 7.8 72.5 11.8 84.3
All NYC Elementary Schools 11.9 26.6 56.3 5.2 61.5

Level 1: Not meeting learning standards; Level 2: Partially meeting learning standards;
Level 3: Meeting learning standards; Level 4: Meeting learning standards with distinction

Working closely with the NYC Department of Education-Office of Special Education Initiatives, an RTI framework was established at Public School 380 to improve student outcomes, reduce unnecessary referrals to special education, and to improve data-based decision making to inform instruction.

A standard treatment protocol using an evidence-based reading and spelling program was implemented in Tiers I and II. A step-by-step process established clear parameters to follow the RTI framework and to implement RTI with fidelity. Below is a brief outline of the RTI framework implemented at PS 380:

  • Provide Evidence-Based General Education Instruction
    • All students in grades K-3 received Wilson Fundations® in Tier I as the word study component of balanced literacy.
    • Teachers were fully trained, with periodic implementation support and fidelity checks.
  • Identify Students Scoring Below Benchmark
    • All students were screened with DIBELS three times during the year. Students determined to be "at risk" were reviewed by the team.
  • Provide Small-Group Instruction
    • Students were grouped and received Fundations double dose lessons during Tier II instruction (at least 3 weekly sessions in groups of 3–6).
  • Monitor Student Progress Frequently
    • Grades K and 1 Tier II students were monitored bi-weekly using the Fundations Progress Monitoring probes.
    • Grade 2 Tier II students were monitored with DIBELS Oral Reading Fluency.
    • Program test scores, classroom performance, and winter DIBELS Assessment were examined.
  • Review/Revise Small Group Instruction
    • Intervention and classroom teachers met regularly to determine groupings, instruction intensity, and duration. Groups were changed, the frequency of intervention was increased, or students were removed from Tier II intervention based on the results of progress monitoring.

What challenges did you face?

  • Designating regularly scheduled intervention time in the day
  • Establishing continuous progress monitoring of student performance
  • Assessing the fidelity of implementation of the intervention

What was the outcome of your effort?

Students in Grades K and 1 determined to be "at risk" made great gains during the first year of implementation in DIBELS measures (see chart).

Kindergarten Grade 1
Kindergarten_DIBELS Grade1_DIBELS

After 3 years of implementation there was significant improvement in student performance in Grade 3 based on the 2008-2009 New York State ELA Assessment.

In 2009, no students were at Level 1 compared to 7.8% of 3rd graders in 2005-2006. There was also a 7% increase in the number of students in Grade 3 scoring at Level 3 & 4-meeting learning standards (Level 3) and meeting learning standards with distinction (Level 4). (See chart below).

PS 380 Grade 3 ELA Performance
Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Levels 3 & 4
2005-2006 7.8 7.8 72.5 11.8 84.3
2008-2009 0.0 8.6 72.9 18.6 91.4

PS 380 exceeded in performance compared to all city schools.

2009 Grade 3 ELA Performance
Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Levels 3 & 4
PS 380 0.0 8.6 72.9 18.6 91.4
All NYC Elementary Schools 6.5 24.1 61.5 7.9 69.4

Due to the success of the pilot schools that worked with the NYC Department of Education, RTI expanded to 29 more schools throughout the city.

In fall 2009, PS 380 was selected as a National Blue Ribbon school.

What advice would you give others?

A school must be organized and committed to take on this initiative, including administrative support and the designation of an individual to oversee implementation. A major part of the success at PS 380 was that leadership prioritized fidelity of implementation (including time for instruction), staff development, follow-up coaching, and also designated staff to coordinate the RTI initiative.

Ensure that time for intervention is built into the school's master schedule.

Take time for team building. It is critical to include general and special education staff in the discussion and build consensus and clear expectations of what RTI is and how it will be implemented.

Develop a school Action Plan outlining the professional development and ongoing coaching provided for school personnel in implementing the intervention(s), progress monitoring, and use of data to inform instruction.

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