Central Elementary School: Yukon, Oklahoma

Kim Kysar is currently the Response to Intervention coordinator as well as a speech-language pathologist for Central Elementary School in Yukon, Oklahoma.  She collaborates with RTI team members to assist in the data-driven decision making process and coordinates the efforts of implementing research based literacy interventions.  This is Central’s second year implementing RTI.

What did you do?

At the end of the 2006–2007 school year several district faculty of the Yukon Public Schools attended professional development opportunities with Bethany Public Schools. At this first encounter with Response to Intervention (RTI) I became extremely interested. The Oklahoma State Department of Education offered a four-day RTI workshop featuring Dr. Gary Duhon, an RTI specialist who is an associate professor of school psychology at Oklahoma State University, as well as Nicole Power, speech-language pathologist and RTI coordinator for Bethany Public Schools. This workshop was extremely helpful for understanding the core concepts of RTI. From this point on, I went to anything and everything that I could attend to "soak up" some RTI knowledge!

In August 2007–2008, Yukon contracted with Dr. Duhon to professionally develop and consult with our pilot elementary site (Central Elementary). He walked us through each tier in the model as well as the biweekly RTI meetings. Professional journals offered vital information relating to our specific field. The more I learned about RTI, the more excited, and terrified, I became. It was very unclear how my area of expertise would fit into this new and unfamiliar model.

As the RTI coordinator of a school implementing a problem-solving approach, I develop interventions for students who struggle with language and literacy. Educating teachers on explicit and systematic instructional components occurs through workshops and RTI meetings. I collaborate with RTI team members to assist in the data-driven decision making process. Various interventions are researched and the teachers are provided with flyers about evidence-based reading strategies. Quick reference sheets for phonological awareness error correction strategies have been developed. Data are continuously collected and I am constantly informing the administration of efforts to support reading within our school.

What challenges did you face?

Various RTI team members had questions about job boundaries and worries of encroachment. Adapting to this change did take some time, but within a year teachers and specialists were collaborating together for the greater good of our students.

"Collaboration is key with RTI," said Carol Burton, principal. "All teachers come together to get interventions that are scientifically based. It’s about being able to work smarter, not harder!"

Administrative support was extremely important and played a key role in the success of the first year of RTI. Support was offered to teachers in creatively finding time in their school day to implement interventions. Our principal made it clear that our school was adopting this model and would implement it with a high percentage of integrity.

What was the outcome of your effort?

This data-driven decision making process at Central Elementary School, in Yukon Public Schools, has resulted in a faculty that is constantly monitoring student progress, analyzing data, and developing prescriptive reading interventions. An analysis of student movement between Tiers 1, 2, and 3 of the RTI model showed that of the 90 students placed onto tiers, 34 were released with no further need of interventions. At the end of the year, it was found that 88% of all students were responding to Tier 1 or less intervention.  This means 88% of the students at Central Elementary were either on target to meet benchmarks throughout the school year or required the least intensive amount of Tier interventions to do this. Student achievement outcomes have been positive. Central Elementary has shown adequate yearly progress in reading for the entire school and the eight subgroups analyzed for No Child Left Behind. The overall reading academic performance index jumped from 1458 to 1488 (30 points).

What advice would you give others?

"All hands on deck" most definitely needs to be the theme of RTI. Strong leadership from administrators and coordinators will give RTI every advantage in best serving our students. Let all decisions be driven by data you have collected. It is important to educate RTI team members on data analysis and how to use it to make skill-based instructional decisions about learning. Teacher knowledge about reading can be increased through strong professional development. Most important, make good use of all resources available to your school (speech-language pathologists, reading specialists, school psychologists, special education teachers, etc.).

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