RTI And Classroom & Schoolwide Learning Supports: A

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RTI and Classroom & Schoolwide Learning Supports:A Guide for Teachers and Learning Supports Staff(January, 2012)The Center is co-directed by Howard Adelman and Linda Taylor and operatesunder the auspices of the School Mental Health Project, Dept. of Psychology, UCLA,Write: Center for Mental Health in Schools, Box 951563, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1563Phone: (310) 825-3634email: [email protected]: http://smhp.psych.ucla.eduPermission to reproduce this document is granted.Please cite source as the Center for Mental Health in Schools at UCLA

PrefaceAccording to the National Center on Response to Intervention “the purpose ofRTI is to provide all students with the best opportunities to succeed in school,identify students with learning or behavioral problems, and ensure that theyreceive appropriate instruction and related supports”(http://www.rti4success.org/ ). They translate this into a definition that states“response to intervention integrates assessment and intervention within a multilevel prevention system to maximize student achievement and to reducebehavior problems. With RTI, schools identify students at risk for poor learningoutcomes, monitor student progress, provide evidence-based interventions andadjust the intensity and nature of those interventions depending on a student’sresponsiveness, and identify students with learning disabilities or otherdisabilities.” They describe four essential components of response tointervention: (1) a school-wide, multi-level instructional and behavioral systemfor preventing school failure, (2) screening, (3 ) progress monitoring, and (4)data-based decision making for instruction, movement within the multi-levelsystem, and disability identification (in accordance with state law). Theguidebook also states response to intervention is “a framework for providingcomprehensive support to students and is not an instructional practice” and that“RTI is a prevention oriented approach to linking assessment and instructionthat can inform educators’ decisions about how best to teach their students.”While the RTI center states the strategy is meant to be broad-based andpreventative, we suggest that the approach described is too limited in how itframes what needs to go on in a classroom and schoolwide to enable learning,engage students, and keep them engaged.* Therefore, we have prepared thefollowing guide for teachers and learning supports staff. It places response tointervention in the context of a unified and comprehensive system for enablingall students to have an equal opportunity for success at school and beyond.The guide is designed to broaden perspectives of response to intervention,provide frameworks for contextualizing the work in classrooms andschoolwide, and generally enhance practices. It is divided into the followingunits:I. Framing Response to Intervention in the ClassroomII. Pursuing Response to Intervention Sequentially and EffectivelyIII. Pursuing Response to Intervention as One Strategy in a ComprehensiveSystem of Student and Learning SupportsAs aids for personnel development, each unit begins with a set of questions andends with study, discussion, and activity guides. These can be used for both*There are other criticisms of RTI; relevant references covering these are included in the resourcelist appended to this guide.i

independent study and groups formed as communities of learners. Topicalguides to illustrate and aid practice are presented throughout. A few topics areamplified in appendices. In place of usual citations, references to sources andadditional resources that can deepen learning and offer specific aids areprovided in an appended resource list. A set of self-study surveys also arehighlighted.We view this guide as a work-in-progress. Hopefully, it will be useful in itspresent form. We will revise it based on feedback from the field. Let us hearwhat changes you recommend.It will be obvious that this work owes much to many who share their effortsthrough a variety of sources. And, we can never express our appreciationenough to our Center staff (Perry Nelson and the host of UCLA students) forthe many contributions they make each day.Howard Adelman & Linda TaylorCenter Co-directorsii

RTI and Classroom & Schoolwide Learning Supports:A Guide for Teachers and Learning Supports StaffCONTENTSIntroduction1Unit I: Framing Response to Intervention in the Classroom2A. Improving the Conditions for LearningInviting Assistance into the ClassroomPromoting a Positive School and Classroom ClimateRedesigning Classroom StrategiesB. Personalization is Fundamental to RTI andGoes Beyond IndividualizationUnit II: Implementing Response to Intervention Sequentially & EffectivelyA. Personalize First; Add Special Assistance as NecessarySome Procedural Objectives and Some Major Elementsof a Personalized ClassroomProviding Personalized Structure for LearningKeeping the Focus on EffectivenessB. Response to Intervention: An Early After Onset Practice335710131618182124Adding Learning Options and Broadening AccommodationsSteps to Guide the Process29C. Response to Intervention and Specialized Assistance32Unit III: Pursuing Response to Intervention as One Strategy in aComprehensive System of Student and Learning Supports3036A. A Continuum of Intervention: Moving Beyond the Three TierIntervention Pyramid39B. Six Arenas of Learning Supports Intervention41C. Continuum Content An Enabling Component41D. Where Does RTI and PBIS Fit In43Concluding Comments46iii

Illustrative Guides1. An Example of a Role that Others Can Play in the ClassroomRelated to Response to Intervention42. What’s Involved in Promoting a Welcoming, Caring, and HopefulAtmosphere in the Classroom and Schoolwide63. Response to Intervention and Motivational Considerations84. Underlying Assumptions of a Personalized Program115. A Continuum and Sequence of Interventions at a School146. Instruction Sequence and Levels for RTI157. Major Elements of a Personalized Program178. A Synthesis of Principles/Guidelines Underlying Good Schoolsand Teaching229. A Synthesis of Characteristics of Effective Schools and Classroomsthat Account for All Learners2310. Prereferral Intervening2511. Accommodations2712. An Enabling or Learning Supports Component to Address Barriers andRe-engage Students in Classroom Instruction3813. A Full Continuum of Interconnected Intervention Subsystems4014. A Unifying Intervention Framework to Aid Schools, Families, andNeighborhoods in Providing a Comprehensive and Cohesive Systemof Supports42Source References and a Few Additional Resources47Appendices51A. Volunteers as an Invaluable ResourceB. About School and Classroom ClimateC. Intrinsic Motivation and the ClassroomD. Turning Big Classes into Smaller UnitsE. Self-Study Surveys1. About the Center’s Surveys2. One Example: Classroom-based Approaches to Enable andRe-engage Students in Classroom Learningiv

RTI and Classroom & Schoolwide Learning Supports:A Guide for Teachers and Learning Supports StaffResponse to Intervention (RTI) initiatives wisely underscore the unacceptability of waitingfor students to fail. However, as with so many other efforts intended to ensure all studentshave an equal opportunity to succeed at school, this budding movement often is pursued asjust another piecemeal effort. Fragmentary endeavors cannot address the complex realitiesconfronting teachers and student support staff. Moreover, as formulated and practiced theapproach often is too limited in how it frames what needs to go on to enable learning, engagestudents, and keep them engaged. In particular, it pays too little attention to the need tostrengthen the classroom and schoolwide context in ways that enhance the effectiveness ofthe strategy.Response to intervention must be built on a solid classroom and schoolwide foundation thatincorporates a focus on promotion of healthy development, prevention, and responding asearly after problem onset as is feasible. And it must be effectively connected to interventionsdesigned to provide specialized student and family assistance for severe and chronicproblems. In other words, RTI must be fully integrated into a systemic, unified, andcomprehensive approach to school improvement.The need for a comprehensive approach is particularly evident in schools where a significantproportion of students lack enthusiasm about attendance and about engaging in the day’slesson plans. The need is even more acute in schools where many students have becomedisengaged from classroom instruction, are behaving in disruptive ways, and are droppingout. To facilitate the success of such students at school, administrators, teachers, studentsupport staff, and other key stakeholders must literally transform schools in ways that enablestudents to (1) get around interfering barriers and (2) (re)engage in classroom instruction.Properly designed, response to intervention strategies can help with all this, but it must bean integrated part of a well-designed and implemented school improvement plan.With this in mind, the following guide first places response to intervention in the context ofthe classroom and as a sequential and hierarchical approach for all students. Then, wehighlight early after onset interventions. Finally, we emphasize that that aim of enhancingequity of opportunity requires embedding classroom efforts within a comprehensiveschoolwide system of student and learning supports for addressing barriers to learning andteaching and re-engaging disconnected students.As aids for personnel development, each unit begins with a set of questions that canbe used to guide independent study and community of learners’ discussions. A fewtopics are amplified in appendices; others that can deepen learning and providespecific resource aids are referenced throughout. Finally, a set of self-study surveysare appended.1

Unit I: Framing Response to Intervention in the ClassroomA. Improving the Conditions for LearningInviting Assistance into the ClassroomPromoting a Positive School and Classroom ClimateRedesigning Classroom StrategiesB. Personalization is Fundamental to RTI andGoes Beyond IndividualizationStudy and Discussion Questions(1) Why does effective response to intervention require additional handsin the classroom?(2) How does classroom (and schoolwide) climate relate to addressing astudent’s problems?(3) How do classroom strategies need to be redesigned to enhance teachercapability to prevent and handle problems and reduce the need forout of class referrals?(4) How does personalization differ from individualization?How was school today?\Well, if it’s true we learn from our mistakes,I had a great day!/2

Unit I: Framing Response to Intervention in the Classroomhat goes on in the classroom is critical in ameliorating or exacerbating the learning,behavior, and/or emotional problems manifested by students. This reality, however,does not make addressing the problems the sole responsibility of teachers. Andwhile response to intervention can play a strategic intervention role, implementing theapproach also is not the sole responsibility of teachers; it requires a collective effort.WA. Improving the Conditions for LearningFor response to intervention to become an effective facet in classrooms, teachers and studentsupport personnel need to work together to transform classrooms. This involves: inviting assistance into the classroom to bring in more help (e.g., volunteerstrained to work with students-in-need; resource teachers and student support staffto team up with the teacher in the classroom)ensuring what goes on in the classroom (and schoolwide) establishes andmaintains a stimulating, caring, and supportive climateredesigning classroom strategies to enhance teacher capability to prevent andhandle problems and reduce the need for out of class referrals (e.g. personalizinginstruction; expanding the range of curricular and instructional options andchoices; systematic use of pre-referral interventions, response to intervention, andin class special assistance; turning big classes into smaller units; reducingover-reliance on social control)Inviting Assistanceinto the ClassroomOpening theclassroom doorallows for manyforms ofassistance,mentoring,partnership, andother collegialpractices.Collaboration and teaming are key facets of (1) addressingbarriers to learning and teaching and (2) promotingengagement, learning, performance, and healthy development.Teachers, especially new teachers, need as much in-classroomsupport and personalized on-the-job education as can beprovided. All teachers need to learn more about how to enablelearning among students, especially those with problems. Allschool staff need support from each other in enhancingoutcomes for such students. Given their shared agenda, it seemsevident that staff not only should work closely with each other,but also with parents, volunteers, professionals-in- training, andso forth (see Guide 1).With respect to student/learning supports staff at a school, theemphasis should be on regularly bringing them into classroomsas team members rather than as “consultants.” This means thasome support staff will have to learn much more aboutclassroom life and teaching. And, everyone who works in theclassroom will need to move from an overemphasis on behaviormodification to an understanding of the role of intrinsicmotivation in engaging and re-engaging students in instruction.3

Guide 1An Example of a Role that Others Can Play in the ClassroomRelated to Response to InterventionEvery teacher has had the experience of planning a wonderful lesson and having the classdisrupted by one or two unengaged students (who often are more interested in interactingwith a classmate than pursuing the lesson). The first tendency usually is to use some simpleform of social control to stop the disruptive behavior (e.g., using proximity and/or a mildverbal intervention). Because so many students today are not easily intimidated, teachersoften find such strategies