Create Your Implementation Blueprint
Stage 6: Sustainability
Sustainability is critical and should be the goal during each earlier stage. The manner in which RTI is implemented in earlier stages will determine the level of sustainability. To a great extent, securing teacher buy-in is critical to the long-term sustainability of this innovation. That’s why it is critical to provide teachers with professional development and coaching that leads to support and commitment, not just compliance. Teachers need time to fully understand the why and the how, and to have the opportunity to learn data analysis, grouping, and instructional techniques.
Some people search for the silver bullet of intervention programs that will produce results, as if the program teaches rather than the teacher. In RTI, perhaps even more than with a core program, the data-informed decision making is critical to success. The data analysis processes must be taught to the classroom teachers so that they can experience why focused groups enable targeted instruction; teachers need to experience that the success in the student’s progress monitoring scores resulted from decisions they participated in and practices they implemented. If someone else administers all the assessments and places students in groups and just hands over a list of students and a program to teach, the success cannot be experienced in the same way. In RTI there is an integral connection between making instructional decisions for a student and the assessment data that led to those choices. Teachers must be taught to understand and use the data.
Many times schools are in a hurry to implement RTI. Fixsen, Naoom, Blase, and Wallace (2007) said the following with regard to the benefit of hiring an outside expert to advise during the process: “Early decisions about how to access external expertise to assure a quick and successful start-up, and how to make use of that external expertise to build local capacity, will impact sustainability over the long term” (p. 7). Educational consultants can indeed help with the implementation process; however, careful selection of a consultant is encouraged. Ask about the depth of the consultant’s experience in helping schools implement RTI. Ask for referrals and talk with staff or administrators at other schools the consultant has assisted. While a consultant can help the district or school implement RTI more quickly and the consultant’s advice may improve the probability of sustainability, schools can be just as successful without a consultant if they have a dedicated RTI team that researches extensively and is given the time to lead this innovation.
Fixsen, D., Naoom, S., Blase, K., & Wallace, F. (2007, Winter/Spring). Implementation: The missing link between research and practice. The APSAC Advisor, 4–10.
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