Monitor RtI Implementation to Sustain Implementation Momentum

Every morning I get up and check my home weather station.· Living in the Rocky Mountain Region, knowing what kind of weather is in store for me for the day is very important.· If I am not ready for what the day’s weather may bring, I could be in for a very miserable day.· So, after checking the weather station, I decide on what to wear as I prepare for the elements, I make sure I take the right vehicle (my little gas-saver or the 4-wheel drive for the snow), and I make sure that I leave my house to make it to work on time based on the conditions.

I tell this little story to emphasis that no matter what we do, we are always monitoring.· By evaluating conditions, environments, and data (in this case, the temperature) we make calculated decisions on how we are going to respond.· Sometimes the data we collect to create our response fools us, but most of the time, because of our past experiences and knowledge, we are able to make good decisions.·

When thinking about RtI implementation, I know that the more we monitor what we do, the greater the chance of us improving our instructional practice and the increased chance of us meeting the academic needs of our students.· If we don’t do a good job of gauging our effectiveness, we will undoubtedly fail with our implementation efforts.

You might be wondering, “What should we monitor?”· Here is a short list of what I think should be monitored when implementing the RtI process in a school:

Monitor the Effectiveness of your Screening Assessments: Screening assessments should be aligned to the core curriculum and district and state standards.· The alignment will ensure that you are assessing what you teach.· Also, use at least two but preferably three different type of assessments.· Three assessments allow for “triangulation of data” which allows you to compare student ability and knowledge across multiple assessments, and allows for a more accurate determination of students needs.· Most importantly, be sure that you pay attention to how students are falling into groups based on assessment data as related to district cut scores.· Because the ultimate goal of screening is to determine which students are at-risk, the better the accuracy (sensitivity) of the assessment the better schools are able to truly identify those students needing added support.

Monitor the Effectiveness of Your Progress Monitoring Assessments: As with your screening assessments, progress monitoring assessments need to align to district and state standards.· Remember, you are measuring how students are learning what all students need to know. Therefore, instruction and assessments need to align as closely as possible to the district curriculum.· One of the most difficult aspects of progress monitoring is the consistent probe of student learning while also making informed decisions about the effectiveness of your instruction.· Making decisions about individual students is the key to progress monitoring, so be sure that everyone understands how to establish student baselines, how to set reasonable learning expectations and how and when it is appropriate to make instructional changes based on the data.

Monitor your Professional Development Activities: The data created through the RtI process should inform professional development.· Once professional development is selected and teachers have been trained, be sure that the teachers are implementing what they have learned with fidelity in the classroom.· Fidelity of implementation is a key to RtI implementation.· Without fidelity, schools will have limited success to identifying gaps in instruction and the curriculum.· When curriculum and interventions are done with fidelity, along with accurate assessments, schools can determine with more consistency the strengths and weakness in the instructional program through their data.

Monitor the Greatest Needs in the School: Each school implementing RtI should be guided by the RtI Building Leadership team.·· Armed with a strong assessment system, a strong curriculum and instructional fidelity, the use of the most valuable resource, the professionals implementing the program, can be used more efficiently.· In this era of limited budgets and resources, we don’t always have enough staff to meet all of our needs as we support implementation in our schools.· The leadership team can make decisions about staff placement based on the highest need as demonstrated in the data.

Monitor School and Individual Student Results: The assessment results generated through the RtI process inform us in multiple ways.· They tell us, by-in-large what we need to know about implementation effectiveness...·They tell us how many students are at-risk, how and where we need to focus our resources, the impact our instruction is having on student achievement, and how well we teaching the curriculum.· Every decision can and should be based on the results of our efforts.· The data should drive what we do and accomplish.

Monitor the Staff:· Pay close attention to the attitudes, beliefs and buy-in from the building staff as the RtI process is implemented in the school.· Remember that the professional development provided to implement RtI in the school helps to create a “baseline” of skills but staff will undoubtedly be at different places as they work to implement interventions, instructional strategies and assessment strategies.· When possible, intervene early and support staff who may be struggling with their new learning.· Build a trusting environment that allows teachers to speak freely about their successes and frustrations.·

I could write and write about what to monitor in a school.· The monitoring of the RtI process, across multiple levels and domains will is one of the major components of RtI implementation.· If done and done well, schools will make informed decisions and adjustments that continually improve the school.· If not done well, schools will struggle with implementation.· Take some time and look at the program in your school.· Ask yourself, “Are we monitoring our effectiveness?”· If you are, great.· If not, take some time and develop a process for monitoring the important components of RtI implementation
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Parent Involvement
Thank you for your article. I agree that those are all very important components of RTI sustainability. One thing I would add is that you cannot have sustainability without parent involvement.

Parents are the drivers of student success in many ways and have a direct impact on the outcomes of RTI implementation. If parents, are not knowledgeable about RTI and aren't supportive of it, then RTI becomes less holistic for the child. After talking to many professionals in the field I have discovered that parent involvement is vital in the sustainability of the RTI process.

Raising parental awareness and developing a knowledge and information base for parents helps them become involved and invested in the process, therefore gaining their support in school and at home. There are many states that are doing an excellent job of including parents but one exemplary model is Colorado. They not only inform parents about RTI but involve them in the decision making process!

Thanks again for posting on the matter of sustainability,

Michaela Duggan

First, I want to thank you for blogging about sustaining implementation of RtI. This is a difficult topic to tackle with many issues to cover. As I struggle with these very issues everyday. I have been implementing RtI at the state level and district level for 6 years.

I agree with your information as a whole. However, I would like to address some of the statements. There are 3 areas that I will discuss: universal screening, professional development, and integrity of interventions.
1) Your statement, "....the ultimate goal of screening is to determine which students are at-risk, the better the accuracy (sensitivity) of the assessment the better schools are able to truly identify those students needing added support" is not comprehensive enough. I am a firm believer in methodological triangulation of data. However, the first step is to assess Tier 1 with the data not identify students in need of added support. Many schools are in an "upside down triangle" because the assumption is that we have adequate if not good Tier 1 instruction (academic and behavior), which is not always the case. If we first use the data to identify area of needs in Tier 1 to write an instructional plan for the school, then the need for Tier 2 and 3 is reduced.
2) Your statements are right on target about PD; yet, many districts are still on the train and hope model. Instead educational personnel need to be ensuring that the PD has goals, outcomes, and follow-up. Research has demonstrated that the old model of PD does not change behavior but modeling, guided practice and performance feedback does. District personnel need to provide a formal contract with PD providers on objectives, outcomes, and follow-up.
3. Fidelity or integrity of interventions seem to be critical at most of the schools that I monitor and/or consult. There are woefully inaccurate and/or inadequate procedures or integrity checklists to guide teachers, interventionists, etc to implement with fidelity. In addition, there are many states that dont commonly require/mandate fidelity checks as part of the decision making process in that there is documentation of those integrity checks when reviewing students progress. Finally, this point leads back into the second point of PD. School personnel must have the supports to build capacity and ensure fidelity of instruction and interventions.

Ah on last comment on staff placements, if the team reviews the data over the summer and begins scheduling, they should consider scheduling backwards. In other words, schedule for your highest need (Tier 3) first and work backwards instead of trying "to fit in" these additional services into a one size fits all school.

Thank you again for blogging about a topic that is in such need of on-going discussion and research.