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Examples of Effective RtI Use and Decision Making: Part 2—Reading


In this second article of our three-part series, we use case examples in reading to show how Response to Intervention (RtI) decisions are reached in real-world scenarios. For each case example, we’ll guide you through a series of three questions that should be asked:


  1. Is there a gradewide learning problem? If yes, what is causing the problem?
  2. Is there a classwide or individual learning problem? If yes, what is causing the problem?
  3. Did intervention successfully resolve the problem?

Is There a Gradewide Learning Problem?


is_there_a_gradewide_problem
Note: graph created on iSTEEP.


We ask this question to evaluate the adequacy of core instruction. Where many children in a grade are performing below expectations, the everyday instruction that all students receive (i.e., core instruction) should be adjusted before singling out individual students for assistance. In this example, there is not a gradewide learning problem. Each bar shows the percentage of students at mastery (green) on an expected grade-level skill, the percentage of students in the instructional range (yellow), and the percentage of students in the frustrational range (pink). Very few students perform in the risk range (pink) within the grade. These data show that general education reading instruction is working well for most students at Grade 2. The next step is to look at scores within classes to verify that no classwide learning problems exist.


Is There a Classwide Problem? Are There Individual Learning Problems?


is_there_a_classwide_problem
Note: graph created on iSTEEP.

This class does not have a classwide learning problem. Every bar is a student’s performance within the same class. Only three students are performing in the risk range in reading (pink). Because there is no gradewide and no classwide learning problem, individual students can accurately and readily be identified for further assessment and small-group or individual intervention. The three students who perform below criterion on screening proceed for further assessment.


WHAT IS CAUSING THE PROBLEM?


  • Do incentives improve performance for students in the risk range?

what_is_causing_the_problem
Note: graph created on iSTEEP.

Follow-up assessment of the three students who performed in the risk range at screening shows that performance for all three is rapidly improved when the students are given opportunities to earn small rewards for improved performance. Because each student improved his or her performance and no longer fell in the risk range when offered a small reward to “beat his or her score,” the need for further skill-building intervention is ruled out for these students. Teachers and parents can focus efforts on maximizing the students’ motivation to give their best effort in the classroom each day. The midyear screening will provide data to ensure that these students do not fall back into the risk range.


But what if the classwide screening had shown that many students performed in the risk range? What then? Consider the next example.


Is There a Classwide Problem? Are There Individual Learning Problems?


is_there_an_individual_problem
Note: graph created on iSTEEP.

In this example, more than half of the class is performing below criterion or in the risk range. This class has a classwide learning problem in reading. Because no other classwide learning problems in reading were detected at higher grades, we can proceed in working with this class directly to verify correct use of the reading instruction program at the school, to maximize instructional quality in the classroom, and to provide a classwide supplemental reading intervention daily to resolve this classwide learning problem. It is inefficient, inaccurate, and ineffective to attempt to identify and provide students with individual intervention when most of the class performs in the risk range. This class should be provided with classwide intervention. The graph below shows the performance of this same class following classwide reading intervention that was conducted over a number of weeks.



Schedule classwide interventions to occur at the same time each day within a single grade level to facilitate coach visits. Use classwide peer tutoring or response cards and reduce task difficulty so that the majority of the class is responding correctly. Use a written protocol that specifies the basic steps of the intervention each day. Collect a data point on all students in the class each week to evaluate progress.





after_intervention
Note: graph created on iSTEEP.

The classwide reading intervention produced improvement for all students and now fewer than half of the students perform in the risk range. Six students remain in the risk range and stand out from their same-class peers as needing additional support, but they have shown great progress. The teacher elects to continue classwide reading intervention for 2 more weeks. Following 2 more weeks of intervention, three of the six students have improved their performance such that they no longer fall in the risk range. The three students who remain in the risk range need further assessment and intervention.

after_2_more_weeks_of_intervention


Note: graph created on iSTEEP.

The three students who are in the risk range are offered incentives to “beat their last best score.” The blue bar shows each student’s score when offered an opportunity to earn a reward for improved performance. In all cases, performance was slightly improved, but not enough to move the child outside of the risk range. These children are the lowest performing students in their class, they have shown minimal improvement with classwide intervention, and incentives do not improve performance. These students need a skill-building intervention that is targeted specifically to their needs.


What is Causing the Problem?


Two individual interventions are shown below. The first student was reading below grade level, but could read accurately when presented with easier reading material and provided with guided practice reading easier material at first and then grade-level material later. The second student was matched with an intervention to provide modeling, error correction, and timed intervals of reading practice on grade-level materials, which showed a good effect during instruction but did not carry over to reading independently. The first intervention is an example of a successful response to intervention. The second intervention is an example of an unsuccessful response to intervention.

students_reading_intervention_progress
  

Note: graph created in Microsoft Excel™

The first student began intervention using first grade reading passages. After 1 week of intervention, his performance improved to criterion (pink square is greater than 40 words read correctly per minute). Limited carryover was seen to reading second grade level reading passages (orange triangle) during the first week of intervention. During the second week, intervention materials were increased in difficulty to second grade level passages. Performance steadily improved over the following 3 weeks of intervention. Performance was improved on novel probes reflecting grade level content (orange triangles) and this intervention was judged successful.

students_reading_progress
Note: graph created in Microsoft Excel™

In contrast, the reading intervention for the second student has been unsuccessful. This student showed improvement on the passage for which instruction occurred (blue diamond), but when presented with a novel passage of similar difficulty and high word content overlap (pink square), the student did not read the passage above the minimum criterion score. Weekly troubleshooting for the intervention occurred and integrity of intervention implementation was verified. Over 3 weeks of intervention, the student showed no improvement on grade-level reading material with incentives for improved performance (orange triangle). This student can be recommended for additional assessment and intervention that better suits her needs. This intervention is not working and is not likely to produce functionally meaningful improvement in her reading skills. This student is likely to fail without sustained intensive intervention and support in reading in the classroom.
The third article in this series uses case examples in mathematics to guide you through how RtI decisions are reached in real-world situations. You’ll be guided through a series of questions for each example:

  1. Is there a gradewide learning problem? If yes, what is causing the problem?
  2. Is there a classwide or individual learning problem? If yes, what is causing the problem?
  3. Did intervention successfully resolve the problem?

Read the next article - Part 3 - Mathematics >>
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