An RTI Coaching Model



What does an RTI coach do? A general definition of coach is someone who facilitates knowledge and skill development in others. This might be done through traditional professional development workshops, but more likely skill development is embedded in the work of the school. Much of an RTI coaches’ work is done with teams. Schools with effective RTI models typically have two types of teams that meet regularly and use data to make important decisions about meeting student needs. Generally, there is a building team whose mission is to oversee the implementation of RTI across the building. The make up of this team is representative of the various professional roles in the building. They spend time reviewing screening data to determine whether the core instruction has been effective and evaluate where intervention resources appear to be most needed. In addition, building teams may assist grade level/teaching teams in planning more intensive (Tier 3) interventions when students have not responded to the grade level team’s Tier 2 supports.

The other focus for RTI coaches is the grade level or teaching teams. We recommend that these teams meet monthly for the purpose of reviewing data and planning instruction based on student progress.  These teams use screening data to determine who may need Tier 2 or 3 supports.  The teams review all the students the entire team is responsible for teaching, and then determine which students need tiered or additional support, assign the students to intervention group according to their needs, determine which evidenced based practice are best matched to the needs of each group, and then, who among them will teach these groups.  Preferably the time period for these supports is already on the master schedule.  Because the tasks described above, especially group data based decision-making, may be a new experience for many on the teaching team, it is very important that these meetings be facilitated. This is a very important role for the RTI coach.

Following are some important functions the RTI site coach provides:

  • communicate regularly with site administrator regarding coaching sessions
  • share information/content from coaching sessions with the  building RTI team
  • ensure the building RTI team develops a site action plan and that all staff are aware and understand the goals and strategies
  • ensure that screening data and progress monitoring data are collected
  • coach school staff in using various kinds of data
  • facilitate the development of an evidence based practices menu
  • ensure opportunities exist for teams to learn and use a problem solving process to facilitate their meetings focused on data-based decision making

 

Statewide RTI models that use coaching as a tool for implementation vary but many have a state director with regional directors who meet periodically in person with site coaches.  These meetings are followed by some kind of communication via phone or email with the focus on ensuring that consensus has been built, the infrastructure is in place, and that schools are focused on implementation.

The Minnesota RTI Center has a similar focus but due to geographic and budgetary constraints, we have used technology to hold our coaching meetings.  Our 37 site coaches are divided into 4 cohorts organized by level of implementation with no more than 10 coaches per cohort. Each cohort meets weekly for approximately 45 minutes, but we use web-based meeting software.  The master coach shows content to coaches while they sit at their computers in their offices, and there also is a voice connection similar to a conference call.  The 45-minute time frame goes quickly and generally no more than 1 to 3 big ideas are presented in each coaching session.  Some coaching sessions are structured discussions about a variety of implementation issues. There are pros and cons to this approach, but our coaches have found this to be a very time efficient model, and liked the weekly contact for the focus it provided.  Each month there were a few assignments to be completed, all focused on aspects of 3 components:  data, instruction, and problem solving.

An RTI coach is not necessary for successful implementation, but the coaching functions listed above are.  Skilled administrators sometimes assign these functions across a variety of staff, and that can work if it is well coordinated. However, coaching can be a very useful tool in achieving the goals of RTI — school and student improvement.

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I wondern how many schools/districts have such a position?