Whether you are starting from scratch or restructuring your current RTI program, a lot of the planning tends to happen in the beginning of the school year. It can be messy, with a lot of moving pieces. But it can be done, and it can lead to great outcomes for students like Janiah. Let me give you an example of a hypothetical school in this position. We’ll call it Harris Middle School.
Harris Middle School has recently decided to adopt RTI. The leadership team wants to hit the ground running in the fall. The team needs to determine groups, assign teachers, and determine what will be covered in each group. Their solution is the most obvious and, unfortunately, all too common: they take last year’s PARCC scores and place students in different groups based on levels.
This method is definitely the quickest, and will allow the school to begin their interventions right away. But it will also frustrate teachers and render interventions ineffective. Why? The student who is behind because he reads too slowly to finish the test in time doesn’t benefit from being in the same group as the student who can read any passage flawlessly but has no idea how to infer beyond the basic facts of the text. Simply put, one data point is not enough to determine a student’s need for intervention.
There are four major data points that can and should be used to determine initial RTI placement.
Use Multiple Data Points
- Start with a universal screener as soon as possible. This should be a screener that is easy to administer on a large scale. An example is the SRI (Scholastic Reading Inventory), a computer-based assessment that determines students’ lexile levels. Students can take this assessment independently and a proctor can administer it to an entire class within 30-40 minutes.
- Use this data to determine all the students who are below grade level. Train your literacy, inclusion, and ELL teachers on how to administer an assessment like The Fountas & Pinnell (F&P), which provides some more information on the nature of these students’ deficits. Start by assessing students with the lowest SRI score and work your way up. (Not all students who are below grade level will be in RTI. But this way, you will have this baseline data for the majority of students who may enter RTI throughout the rest of the school year.) The F&P is administered one-on-one and takes 20-30 minutes to complete. It provides a breakdown of each student in terms of his or her accuracy, fluency, and comprehension. It further breaks down the comprehension component into three levels. This will take much longer, depending on how many students fall into the below grade level category, but it is time well spent.
- Next, provide all this data to teachers, highlighting students who have been given the Fountas & Pinnell. Teachers will also have their own classroom assessments to measure performance and growth. In-class assessments provides valuable insight into how the previous two data points play out in the reality of the learning environment. One terrific measure that has been discussed here is Accelerated Reader. Another valuable measure is a quarterly interim assessment that aligns to grade level standards, such ANet.
- The final data point is a qualitative assessment of the student’s need for intervention through the lens of your school’s most valuable asset, the teacher. For example, a teacher may see that a student who is significantly behind but incredibly motivated with a strong sense of agency may not need to be in a Tier 2 intervention.
Check out this chart for a side-by-side snapshot of the four data points.
Beginning of the Year Data Points
The timeline below maps out the data collection process in the first month of school.
Timeline of Data Collection
*Click on images for actual size.
Additional Note: Plan for a Delayed Start
It takes time to collect these data points. Don’t worry! Putting in the time in the beginning will pay off in making more effective, targeted small groups. I would suggest spending at least the first month (or two) collecting data and planning your interventions before rolling out Tier 2.
|Check out upcoming articles to learn more about how to use this data to design your Tier 2 intervention framework. And please reach out to me at Sandra@GrowingReadersDC.com for questions or support!|
Have I missed anything important? Do you have any nagging questions? Leave a comment below!