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Response to Intervention, RTI, as a formal structure is becoming a major force in educational reform. Through its focus on the delivery of evidence based interventions and its use of student response to those interventions as a basis for determining instructional needs and their intensity, RTI provides a roadmap that is both an opportunity and a challenge for all educators. Although much of the initial focus of RTI has been on the determination of special education eligibility, its most exciting use is the implementation of instructional strategies that assist students to develop solid literacy skills. To guide us in this process of discovery is Karen Kemp, educational consultant and director of student support services in the Cohoes City School District. She'll provide us with a deeper explanation of how RTI can be successfully integrated into the ongoing instructional practices of a school. Joining Karen Kemp is Karen Norlander, an attorney and expert on education law, who will offer additional insights on how RTI is changing the educational landscape. We'll visit classrooms and observe teachers implementing programs that support RTI, and we'll hear from staff who are experiencing positive results from the implementation of RTI in their classrooms and school. -truck to the floor. Harry picked it up and- Most of the research conducted through the National Institute of Child Health and Development, or NICHD, under the direction of Dr. Reed Lyon, has focused on identifying the nature of reading disabilities and the causes. The results of these scientific investigations have dispelled some long held beliefs about reading and disabilities and have produced evidence to substantiate the following: Early language characteristics predict later reading and writing skill. Various studies report that 80% of preschool aged children with language disorders later display some degree of reading difficulty. On the other hand, children who overcome early language difficulties before 5 years of age were not at risk of developing literacy problems. Dyslexia or a reading disability does run in families. Scientists have identified genetic determiners through their research and they have discovered that the greatest degree of heritability is phonological processing deficits. A true reading disability is associated with under-activity in the left cerebral hemisphere language centers, as well as other functional and structural cerebral differences. Using modern neuro-imaging technology, medical researchers have identified a unique signature on the brain scans of persons with reading problems. These unique brain scans seem to reflect an inability to work with phonemes in the language which appears to be a major obstacle to reading acquisition. According to Sally Shaywitz, a formidable expert in the field of literacy, professor of pediatrics at Yale University and widely respected author of books including Overcoming Dyslexia, the lack of appropriate reading instruction can actually cause reading disabilities. Students significantly behind in reading by fourth grade are functionally disabled whether due to dyslexia or poor instruction, and regardless of the reason, they will probably require intensive support throughout their schooling as well as accommodations to benefit from instruction. Boys and girls are equally likely to have reading problems. Reading problems do not discriminate. The reason that a higher number of boys are identified is because of their tendency to be more disruptive than girls in a classroom setting. About 20% of all children have significant difficulty learning to read. Of these students identified usually by grade two or three, approximately 75% will continue to have these problems in 9th grade. Students who score in the lowest 25% of the reading continuum have a trajectory of progress that diverges early from their peers who have learned to read successfully. The prevelency of reading difficulties varies according to the instruction available to students in grades K through three. Some children play with word structure for several years before school and some have no experience. We also know that the degree of emphasis placed on phonemic awareness in preschool adds additional variation, as does the explicitness of the instruction provided. So when children enter kindergarten we see this kind of variability. Only 5% of students who enter kindergarten have absolutely no difficulties learning to read, as opposed to 60% who find it a challenge, while approximately 20-30% find learning to read extremely difficult. This presents just as much of a challenge for the teachers who are charged with teaching these students how to read. Fortunately we can do something about this as professionals. Because of all the research that has been conducted and documented over the past 30 years, we now know what skills children need in order to learn to read. Traditional approaches to reading instruction in the early grades have substantially underestimated the variability in children's talent and preparation for learning to read. One reading program does not necessarily meet the diverse needs of all the children in a classroom. Many youngsters have difficulties reading not because they have a learning or reading disability but because they are initially behind and do not receive classroom instruction that can build the necessary foundational language and early reading skills. Sometimes this has to do with environment, brain activity and structure, or genetics, but most often children need explicit instruction in the areas that are the most problematic. A reading disability is a persistent problem not a developmental lag, however, if children have phonological processing and word recognition problems from the beginning they tend to fall further behind. There is ample evidence that students who do not make good progress initially in learning to read find it increasingly difficult to ever master the process. This speaks to the importance of using appropriate assessment tools and gathering data from the time children enter kindergarten. Monitoring progress frequently throughout the year will assist educators in identifying areas in need of explicit instruction or more practice, and in making better decisions about a student's ability to read or the existence of a true disability. We also now know that remediation of reading difficulties is minimally effective after second grade, and even if we identify students as having a reading disability at that time, it does not necessarily lead to improvements in learning. Special education is not always the answer. We need to collaborate as educators and provide creative options for all learners to beat the 40% illiteracy rate. In the year 2000, after careful review of more than 100,000 studies, the national reading panel issued a report identifying key skills and methods central to reading achievement. There was overwhelming evidence that five specific areas are key to a sound reading program. Our challenge as educators is to explore the research in these five areas and change instructional practices if necessary in order to help all children become successful readers. The five areas agreed upon by the national reading panel and later written into the NCLB act are as follows: Phonemic awareness: This is described as the ability to notice, think about, and work with individual sounds and spoken words. This means that before children learn to read print they must understand that words are made up of speech sounds or phonemes. Children who are not phonemically aware are not able to segment words and syllables into phonemes. Consequently they do not develop the ability to decode single words accurately and fluently, an inability that is the distinguishing characteristic of persons with reading disabilities. [Teacher] Which one begins with "puh?" [Student] P. The focus is more on literacy development. I spend a lot more time working on phonemic awareness skills and story elements than I did maybe 10 years ago when I first started a speech therapist. I work with students in both the classroom and outside of the classroom and this year more of my students are actually students that are not identified as needing speech needs as we've moved into RTI. I see a lot of students just as a prevention basis to make sure that they're not going to have problems with literacy development down the road. I think the teachers now take on a bigger role in understanding the pieces of the reading process, especially in terms in kindergarten of the phonemic awareness piece, and that has really been brought to light in how important it is to make sure that that's a piece of kindergarten instruction for all of them. It takes just a short time and it's a lot of fun but it really is so important for their reading development. Phonics: this is the relationship between the letters or graphemes of written language and the individual sounds or phonemes of spoken language. The purpose of phonics instruction is to help children learn and use the alphabetic principle. The understanding that written spellings systematically represent the phonemes of spoken word is absolutely necessary for the development of accurate and rapid word reading skills. Systematic and explicit phonics instruction is more effective than non-systematic or no phonics, and it has the greatest impact when it begins in kindergarten or first grade. Fluency is the ability to read a text accurately and quickly with proper expression. Fluency provides a bridge between word recognition and comprehension. Fluent readers read aloud effortlessly because they do not have to concentrate on decoding the words, making it easier to focus their attention on the meaning of the text. They can also make connections among the ideas in the text and between the text and their own background knowledge. Children vary in the amount of practice they require to achieve fluency. A recent study conducted by the National Assessment of Educational Progress found that 44% of a representative sample of 4th graders were low in reading fluency. Students who score lower on measures of fluency also scored lower on measures of comprehension. This suggests that fluency is a neglected skill in many classrooms. Vocabulary refers to the words we must know the communicate effectively. There are two types of vocabulary: Oral, meaning the words we use in speaking or recognize in listening, and reading vocabulary, referring to words we recognize or use in print. In order for readers to comprehend what they are reading, they must know most of the words mean. Beginning readers have a more difficult time reading words that are not already part of their oral vocabulary. Children coming from middle class families are exposed to 500,000 words by kindergarten Economically disadvantaged children are exposed to half that number at best. In another study on the acquisition of language, completed in 1995 by Betty Hart and Todd Risley, psychologists at the University of Kansas concluded: -- by the time the child was three. through every day experiences with oral and written language. Although a great deal is learned indirectly it generally takes: This means that some vocabulary should be taught directly especially if the words represent complex concepts that are not part of a student's everyday experiences. Comprehension is the reason for reading. If students are reading the words but do not understand what they are reading, they are not really reading. Text comprehension should be emphasized from the beginning to demonstrate that reading is a process of making sense out of text and that the ultimate goal of reading is comprehension. [Offscreen] With the implementation of RTI my role as a reading consultant has changed I find myself in the role of a consultant for the teachers more in the skills I know that the students need and how they can implement that in their classroom. We embarked on RTI as an initiative because we had too many students identified with special needs. In 1999, 2000 we had somewheres between 19 and 20% of our student population identified with special needs. After moving to RTI we're now down to a range that is more acceptable, between 13 and 14% The features of Response to Intervention are underscored in the NCLB act and focus on accountability for results. They include: The underlying assumption is that all children are receiving at least 90 minutes a day of reading instruction as well as ample math and science instruction in their respective classrooms from a highly qualified teacher. Additionally instruction is differentiated within the classroom to meet a broad range of needs. [Offscreen] We follow a balanced literacy program where students are reading books at their own level but also focus on all five areas, phonemic awareness, phonics, comprehension, fluency, and vocabulary. I think we had to look at these areas and look at areas that we might not have been providing enough instruction in and provide professional development for teachers in those areas. The core reading programs that we use in the classroom should reflect the accumulation of research on how children learn to read and how we as educators can assist struggling readers. [Offscreen] We all needed to use proven research-based interventions that are good for all kids. I think when we looked at our curriculum we realized we were missing certain areas that were very important for all children to have to succeed in reading and I think that we really needed to provide some professional development for all staff general education teachers and regular education teachers, to help not only look at interventions but look at our core reading program to make sure that in the classroom all students were having a solid research-based program. Tools such as curriculum-based measurement probes or direct assessment tools are used to identify levels of proficiency for each student in essential academic areas. The results should allow for review of both group and individual performance on specific skills. Good morning. Today we're going to do some writing. We're collecting a writing sample from every student at the middle school. [Offscreen] I was administering a curriculum-based measure in writing fluency to the seventh graders. We'll use the results from the writing fluency to look at each grade as a group first of all and kind of determine what skills we'd expect the typical student in each grade to have. From there we can see who falls significantly below those expectations and those might be the students who need some additional support and instruction in writing. We also will look on a class-by-class basis to see whether there might be a particular skill like using apostrophes or capitalization that a class might be listening that a teacher could incorporate and do kind of a mini-lesson to get their kids up to speed in that area. Anybody think, I don't know, maybe something that was easy about this assignment. What was easy about this assignment? [Offscreen] The results from this writing sample that we just used will be very very important for students as far as the lesson planning that I plan to install. By seeing the results from a writing sample such as this one, we might be able to dive into the sentences a little bit more and figure out things that they might leave behind that can help them out in the future, not only in 8th grade but in high school. and I'm looking forward to seeing the results from this to future benefit my lesson plans. Snapshots of a student's progress usually occur at least three times a year or more often if additional data is needed. Educators can use this information to make decisions relative to a child's progress and achievement as a result of instruction. With all the progress monitoring that is going on in our classroom right now, we're able to weekly and bi-weekly track the progress of the kids so that we can look at you know, our instruction, say what are we doing well, and what are we doing that we could do differently? This involves making decisions early for the provision of targeted interventions that are in addition to the core reading program. The most important outcome is that we're getting help to kids at an earlier age and we're getting the right kind of help to those children. In the past where a child might be identified as special education, now what's happening is that child is identified as needing some type of different instruction. We're getting that instruction to that child and as a result the child is performing well and there doesn't become that need for the child to be identified as having special needs when they really didn't have that need. Treatment strategies are carefully structured and designed and can be determined with the use of a problem-solving or instructional support team. My son is in the first grade here at Van Skyke in Cohoes New York. He participates in the Earobics program for literacy, as well as he has participated in the Fundations program and the Fast Forward program to learn to read. That is a computer-based program that helps him play some games that helps him to learn and it makes learning fun. He also has one-on-one training in the classroom with two separate teachers which kind of breaks it up a little bit, makes his life a lot easier and a lot more fun. Reading is a challenge for him, so all the little things that he gets here at Van Skyke make a big difference. In my group meetings with the teachers they are always very open and even after school they'll come to me and let me know what kind of day he had, if they're concerned about anything, or if he did anything really well that I can help and lift up his spirits a little bit more. They are also able to help me provide him with the tools and the guidance that he needs, as a matter of fact, we just met with them this week after he received his report card to get new tools, new books, new reading guidances, and to learn the techniques that they are using within the classroom to assist my son to make reading easier for him. Student progress is monitored frequently and instruction is fine-tuned based on student response to the intervention. Data that indicates a substantial lack of progress after the implementation of classroom interventions would signal the need for additional intensive instruction that includes more substantial blocks of time using programs that match the specific skill deficit. Often a parent or a teacher might express concerns about a student not being able to write effectively compared to their peers. When we look at reading in the elementary school we look at oral reading fluency as a tool skill. You need to be fluent in order to be able to understand what you read. In the same way we can look at the spelling semantics and syntax of written language as the prerequisites to be able to write an understandable and comprehensive piece of writing. When we do these writing samples if students are well below in those particular tool areas then we know they are not going to be able to produce a finished writing assignment that is grade appropriate. Terrell is excited about reading. He is so happy about going into the process now. He initiates it without me having to say 'Go get the book Terrell,' so it's absolutely wonderful, I couldn't have asked to have him in a better school -- put it like that. Van Skyke is exceptional in terms of meeting the needs of the child and the parents okay. Without me having to continuously come here and find out what is going on, they send progress reports home, they allow me to come in and sit in with Terrell in the classroom and it's just been phenomenal and I love it. [Offscreen] Response to Intervention is best depicted as a problem-solving model that incorporates the use of a tiered system focusing on accountability as well as supports for teachers. Within the constructs of a 3-tiered problem-solving model, the prevision of scientifically research-based curriculum and effective instruction for all students is key. Students who are not progressing at an appropriate rate receive short-term targeted interventions for approximately four to six weeks. This represents tier 1 of a 3-tiered model. Students who make progress at this stage are re-integrated into the classroom instructional program. Students who fail to display meaningful progress at this level are moved to tier 2 for more intensive instruction using a systematic intervention-based program and/or strategies in addition to the core program. Again, continuous monitoring and data collection within an established time period, about 8-10 weeks, would determine next steps. A different intensive intervention can be implemented or the information obtained in the previous two tiers may prompt a referral to special education, which is the third tier of this model. At this point, additional testing may or may not be necessary to ascertain if the student has a learning disability because substantial documentation in the form of data has already been collected. Although this process requires time, parents and teachers do not have to wait for testing and the child continues to receive instruction in the targeted area thus ensuring adequate opportunity to learn. Karen, it's important for me to make it really clear that Cohoes city school district is a high need to low resource district. In other words, we have a population of students with a great deal of need. They are at risk, they struggle, as well as English language learners, and we don't have an abundance of resources. I guess one of the greatest challenges that I see is: how do you begin to bring two very separate systems together? Special education has always dealt with kids with disabilities kids who are in trouble, and general education has dealt with all the rest of the children. How do you begin to bridge that separation and evolve into a seamless system between general education and special education. Karen certainly it didn't happen overnight. It's a process and I started with my speech therapists and we were asking them to collect some data on students that were considered to be at risk. Along the same lines I started talking to the assistant superintendent who of course works with all of the elementary schools and looking at what teachers were using as part of their reading curriculum and what were the skills they were teaching students, so that was the first step. Response to Intervention not only involves a change in procedures but also a change in roles and responsibilities so that was probably the biggest challenge, working with teachers to make sure that everyone was on the same page, that they're not your kids or my kids, that they're our kids, and we really do have to work together. [Offscreen] We do have a unified collaborative model for the building principles, for the special education staff, my assistant superintendent, they all work together for the purpose of getting all children to succeed. We don't have a setup where our special education staff works with a our special education children and our regular education staff does that with our regular education kids, and the principal tends to walk a fine line between everybody. We really try to look at things in a, as a whole. We try to look at things as -- these are all the kids of Cohoes and we need to address the needs of all of them, and that is the approach we've taken and it's proven to be successful. Karen, as you know, when students are referred to special education depending on when that happens, it doesn't always make a difference for them, and we don't always close that achievement gap. I think if we look at the numbers of students who have been classified in the past and the reason that they've been classified, especially those with learning disabilities and the method that was used for that process, I think we identified some students unnecessarily and the reason that they are receiving special education services is not because they have a true learning disability but perhaps they were more of an instructional casualty, not to say that the teachers aren't teaching the student and doing a nice job, but they might not have the necessary skills or that knowledge base to teach reading in the way the child needs to learn it. So it requires a great deal of reflection on what's happening in the district and what type of staff development might be needed and what type of programs are being used. My referral rate has decreased significantly and almost in half of what it has been in the past. I've seen that I have lot less referrals, that the number of students that have speech on their IEPs has gone down, and now we're just hitting kids before they fail at reading and it's really been very beneficial for their speech and language skills. Special ed students generally cost more than regular education students and by us moving to RTI it's really been more about reallocation of funds as opposed to new funds, because for years we were putting more and more and more money into special education and really not getting the results back that we are now through this model. [Offscreen] As students are learning to read we're having less of those referrals in the upper grades. I think we're in a transition period, and certainly yes because of all the children who may have been identified inappropriately, we're going to have to wait until we can make the full transition to Response to Intervention. I hear a lot of people saying when I talk about RTI, "Tell me about it when it's over. Here goes another fad." You've seen fads, what's your, what is your perception about how RTI fits into 'just another fad?' Well because I view it as not just a special education initiative but general education, it's really focusing on reading and mathematics, and I don't think teaching reading and mathematics is a fad, I think it's something that we're employed to do as educators, and it's not something new, but a way of looking at instruction and struggling students, it's more of a mind-shift than it is a fad. So I don't see it going away. So maybe we have to come up with a new terminology. Maybe it's that RTI acronym that seems so trite when in fact you're talking about something a lot bigger. I think we're looking at effective instruction overall, more of what NCLB is talking about. And just think, it all came through a little piece in IDEA a special education law. Pretty amazing.

Video Details

Duration: 31 minutes and 40 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: ATRC
Director: ATRC
Views: 86
Posted by: atrctech on Oct 28, 2010

Response to Intervention

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