Back In The Saddle Again



We are back in the saddle again! This year we will be looking at more interventions for students in different areas. We are looking to improve some of our math scores and looking to make a big step with regards to RTI for behavior. In a later blog we will take a closer look at last year’s data to determine the effectiveness of our intervention but let’s take a sneak preview of where we left off from last year. In the spring, we were eagerly awaiting the results and scores from PAWS, our state assessment that is used to determine Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). We did make AYP, but some of the results were still not where we would like to see them. We were validated, though, in our use of RTI and for specific interventions in reading because 95% of our students in 4th grade were proficient in reading based on PAWS. For our small school that meant that only one student was not proficient in reading and in looking at the individual data, we were surprised that this student didn't test proficient. Just goes to show the big pit fall with high stakes testing. In the next blog, I will discuss our data and extrapolate the data to what we are doing to help ensure that our students are proficient on our state assessment. I will also discuss how using an RTI model has decreased the number of students that are identified with a specific learning disability for special education.


This year I would like to discuss and take you along on the ride of further refining our process, taking a harder look and drilling down more in our data, and looking at RTI to help with behavior.  I have had the tremendous opportunity to listen to Dr. Clayton Cook from Louisiana State University speak twice on behavior and RTI and how to integrate behavioral supports and academic supports.  He has been very helpful in sharing some of his research and information with us to get us started with RTI for behavior.  As I begin to read more, do more research, and look at different case studies, I see the high correlation between behavior and academic achievement.  By putting into place a positive behavior and intervention support system embedded within an RTI framework, we are positive that we will be able to eliminate a vast majority of our behavior problems and create a more conducive environment for students to learn.


Please do not misinterpret this as that we have major behavior problems in our school, but I am sure that all of you have seen that students today come to school less prepared to learn than ever.  Many of them lack the social skills to properly interact with peers and lack the basic behaviors that are necessary to be successful in the classroom.  I am sure that many of you have encountered the serious problem of what is referred to in research as "low-level aggression."  Low-level aggression is gossiping, teasing, pushing, baiting, cursing or other small behaviors that somewhat fly under the radar of the teacher’s attention.  It seems that these days, a lot of these actions go unnoticed by educators because there are other, drastic behaviors that take up all the time and attention.  What the research also shows is that not dealing with this low level aggression leads to increases in maladaptive and severely disruptive behavior later on.

Having put in place a Tier I level of support for behavior, our goal is to create an RTI system that first of all identifies students with these low levels of aggression for possible intervention in Tier 2.  We will also then be looking for a means to set up Tier 3 interventions for the students with more disruptive behaviors.  Another major goal will be researching and finding high-quality, evidence-based interventions to use with these students to help alleviate these behaviors.  We also need a means to progress-monitor the behavior of the students to give us data to determine the effectiveness of our interventions and provide specific feedback on behaviors that we can target with our interventions.


Another outcome marker would be to look at the data on the identification of students with emotional disabilities.  Although we only have a few of the students in our district that are identified as emotional disabled, I am curious to see if using RTI for behavior has the same effect on the identification of students with emotional disabilities that RTI has had on the amount of students that we have identified with a specific learning disabilities.


Another big issue that we are addressing this year is our progress monitoring.  As I mentioned at the end of last year, this was an area that we needed to improve on.  We were not getting the proper data or the right amount of data to help us make critical decisions regarding how students were responding to specific interventions.  I will discuss in a later blog what adjustments we have made to try to make our progress monitoring more user-friendly and effective for both students and teachers.


Once again I will be responding to questions or ideas brought up by readers, so please post your comments or questions and I will relate our experience and insight.  So, as we like to say out west, "Let's saddle up and split the wind!"

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