RTI Action Network

Addressing Sustainability of RTI Implementation

By: Dawn Miller, Ph.D.Published: October 26, 2010
Topics: Implementation Planning and Evaluation, Leadership, Professional Development

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In a previous blog, I shared the work of our RtI – Community of Practice called the Kansas Innovation Consortium. This consortium represents educators of various roles who are part of districts or universities who share in common an implementation of RtI and value in sharing and learning with, and from, each others. This year we initiated the writing of a white paper to help address some misunderstandings we have heard from colleagues and communicate what we believe based on our current level of implementation and experience with RtI efforts. In the previous blog post I shared the position statements created around the issue of fidelity of implementation. This post will address what we have developed around sustainability. Much of our discussion is based on the work of Michael Fullan in his book: Leadership & Sustainability: System Thinkers in Action (2005). Our hope is that sharing our position statements will stimulate and promote needed and healthy discussions around RtI implementation.

Common Misunderstandings

It is not uncommon to hear the following statements when educators are introduced to RtI:

"Here we go again…..this too shall pass.”

“As long as you make AYP, just go ahead and keep doing what you are doing.”

“That’s just what we do, but I don’t know that it is in district policy.”

“That may be what is being promoting, but I’m not sure that affects ‘our’ students.”

“We’re already doing ‘it’ we don’t need to spend the time discussing it further.”

Position Statements

The following position statements are intended to address important facets of sustainability that need to be considered and discussed at the onset of planning and implementation so that the focus is on the big ideas represented in RtI as part of a continuous process of improvement:

1. Core beliefs and values must be considered at the building level and must be built directly into systems and practices.

2. Core beliefs and values and beliefs are reflected in the mechanisms set up at the district level.

3. Before we prepare to implement RtI practices we consider the larger system issues that will influence the sustainability of these practices.

4. Schools and districts must have a clear understanding of how laws, regulations, policies and procedures that exist at different levels of the system (federal, state, district, and local) influence current and future decisions.

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Read what others had to say...

Sustain - to maintain, prolong, to keep from failing or sinking, to support or encourage, to prove or confirm...
Sustainability depends in large measure arm in arm with continuity.
We provide a service with an emphasis on learning. Education is a talent fed by professional development geared for effective instruction, with a focus on tiered intervention, high expectations for motivating and contributing to life skills development, and meeting the highly speculated future needs of our population. Continuity is an essential part of strategic planning and vital in the facilitation of a common mission; with clear objectives and workable strategies. Not all students, but struggling students (a large part of our population), and especially special education students, need structure with a high degree of continuity; which adds great potential toward success.
In our present case with regard to RtI and GT alone, data management, staff development, and team involvement (and the team should be staff as a whole) are in need of a new collaboration. I feel this is directly connected to continual turnover of personnel, both staff and administration, and it is my belief that we are still involved in the early phases of systems changes that have never been fully established and / or accepted in many districts.
This conversation has to encompass incoming educators having a full battery (min of 3 SH) of RtI; assessment, planning, implementation, reading and using data, etc; and a requirement for renewing licensure applicants to receive 3 SH or equivilent Education Department credit. This could be a start to dealing with ther issues created by constant turnover. Another issue is a concensus on assessment tools, which seem to change from district to district and with changes in leadership (you go with what you know); which in turn, creates an element of constant change, causing the retraining of staff, and changes in the data set.

Visit www.rtinetwork.org for more information on this topic.
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