Huntington County Community School Corporation (HCCSC): Huntington, Indiana

Chuck Grable oversees K-12 instruction, curriculum development, and professional development, including RTI. He also serves as a member of the Indiana Department of Education’s RTI Leadership Team.

The effective planning and implementation of a comprehensive Response to Intervention (RTI) Plan is a several year process that requires the coordination and collaboration of several stakeholders both inside and outside of the school system. The biggest mistake school systems and educators are making concerning RTI is rushing to implement a plan that isn’t comprehensive (addressing the needs of all K-12 students in both academics and behavior), and doesn’t have understanding and buy-in from all of the pertinent stakeholders. These systems ultimately find the need to continually modify their plans at the frustration of both teachers and parents, not to mention the students whose needs aren’t being met.

HCCSC has been on this planning journey for a little over two years. Because we look at RTI as a framework to meet the needs of all students (at-risk, special needs, ESL, high ability, etc.), HCCSC’s goal has been to create a plan that can be effectively implemented and supported by all stakeholders. This type of planning requires a broad-based committee. We started this process by creating a District RTI Committee consisting of central office administrators, principals, professional development coordinators, teachers, school counselors, school psychologists, parents, community leaders, representatives from higher education, and students. In selecting the principals and teachers, we made sure that all levels (elementary, middle school, and high school) and core content areas were represented in both general and special education. This allowed for a broad perspective in the planning process.

National RTI consultant, Sharon Schultz, has facilitated a majority of our planning sessions. The first step in the process was to build a common understanding of RTI within the committee. Since RTI often requires a large paradigm shift for most educators, we spent considerable time building this understanding and exploring the national RTI landscape. The next process involved an analysis of current practices. Over the past few years our district has conducted a great deal of professional development, especially to strengthen our Tier I core curriculum and instruction. Our goal was to develop a plan that utilized our current initiatives as much as possible. This forced the group to reflect on current practices, validate what is working well, and analyze the gaps between those practices and our desired outcomes. This was accomplished by asking each represented group key questions concerning their current practices, needs, challenges, and potential roles concerning the implementation on RTI.

A major benefit of utilizing such a broad-based planning committee is the various perspectives that you get from members. Too often, educators can lose sight of the forest due to all of the trees; we’re too close to the process. The parents, community leaders, and students often provided those “aha” moments that really contributed to the plan. For example, the group entered into a lengthy discussion about universal screening assessments and how the scores may not be accurate due to a lack of student motivation, especially at the secondary level. The two high school students on the committee offered an interesting analysis of the problem. They explained that at no point during the testing cycles had a teacher ever explained to them why they were taking the assessments – why the scores were needed, how the scores were used, or why they needed to take them seriously. It just illustrated the point that too often education is something done to students instead of with students. Other key insights provided by the students were: the need for immediate feedback, wanting an environment that was absent of threat, wanting better relationships with their teachers, and the need to understand the differences between equal and fair concerning student interventions.

The committee then turned its attention to filling our known gaps. Some of these included:

  • a rubric to assess the level of differentiation occurring in classrooms,
  • a tool to assess the degree to which professional development was put into practice in classrooms,
  • a rubric to screen students on English/Language Arts listening and speaking comprehension standards,
  • short progress monitoring probes for math calculation and problem solving,
  • a screening tool for behavior aligned to the Lifelong Guidelines and LIFESKILLS imbedded in Susan Kovalik’s Highly Effective Teaching Model (The Center for Effective Learning), and
  • quality intervention associated with Tiers two and three (especially for struggling adolescent readers).

A few of these tools were then created by subcommittees. Viable options for other gaps are still being explored. Often times the challenge is the high costs associated with many of the intervention tools on the market.

The planning committee is currently aligning these services into a three-tiered service delivery model that is organized around a standard treatment protocols and a problem solving hybrid. HCCSC has also purchased licensing to the Pearson Inform Data Warehouse and Academic Intervention Plan (AIP) which will assist administrators and teachers in managing all of our universal screening and progress monitoring data and documentation concerning the implementation of interventions/goals at each tier. We hope to implement our RTI model second semester once we have a majority of these tools in place to support our teachers and administrators. Again, we feel that rushing to implement a plan without all of the support features teachers need and without widespread stakeholder buy-in will ultimately lead to failure, and when it comes to helping our students, failure is not an option.

Back To Top