Coaching Role in Intervention Selection and Implementation

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    Once we are confident in our core curriculum and instruction (see "Coaching Role in Core Curriculum and Instruction"), we can turn our attention to supplemental and intensive supports. In our schools, we asked the coaches to organize the completion of an intervention inventory. Our hypothesis was that no one person in the school knew all the materials, strategies, and curricula that are used for intervention with struggling students. We have found this to be a time consuming yet worthwhile process. Most schools have a number of evidenced based intervention practices available; however very few people are trained to use them. Once the inventory was completed, we asked our coaches to lead a small task force in collecting the existing evidence (research support) for each intervention practice they listed. They have used web-based resources including the What Works Clearinghouse, Florida Center on Reading Research, Best Evidence Encyclopedia, and a few others. When existing reviews were not available for particular interventions, then we conducted literature searches.


    Our coaches are focusing only on literacy practices at this time, but the same process could be used for math.  Following is the intervention inventory information we collected:


    • the curriculum or strategy name
    • which of the 5 areas of the National Reading Panel (NRP) the intervention  addressed (phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, or  comprehension).
    • the grade levels it targeted
    • where in the building the intervention can be found
    • if the intervention required materials, the number of teacher and student copies
    • who had been trained to provide the intervention
    • finally, an "other" column for additional information such as required time to  deliver the intervention, suggested group size, etc.


    We’ve asked our coaches to use a three step process:

    1. collect the array of current interventions being used at their schools
    2. collect the supportive evidence for each intervention and identify those for which supportive information could not be found
    3. determine gaps in interventions.


    Coaches found the process of looking for evidence an eye opening experience, and were surprised that some common things used in their buildings had questionable support.  The 3rd task, the gap analysis, took several forms.  For example, all schools need interventions for each of the five areas of the NRP. In some schools they found they had a number of interventions for phonics and comprehension, but little for vocabulary intervention support.  The next step was to further examine student data to determine particular skills in which students need more instruction at various grade levels.  Perhaps some fifth graders continue to make decoding errors and need a phonics intervention, but they may require a different intervention than one used with second graders who also needed additional support in phonics. Once the evidenced gathering is completed, RTI coaches work with the school to identify interventions areas where more intervention resources are needed and prioritize for future purchasing and/or professional development of staff so students have the support they need.

    Once schools have determined some standard interventions for particular grade levels based on student needs, then attention shifts to implementation.  Ensuring educators have the opportunity to develop their skills so that interventions are delivered with fidelity is an even greater issue when we are providing interventions to struggling students. No one wants lack of student progress to be due to the fact that the intervention was not delivered as it was intended.  It is our view that early feedback to staff providing interventions is key to a successful outcome.  Adult learning and student learning are really quite similar in that early corrective feedback is optimum for success.

    Sometimes implementation issues are limited to an individual’s misunderstanding of how the intervention should be provided.  Other times it is more wide spread, and due to inadequate professional development for staff in key strategies.  While a coach could be involved in providing intervention integrity information to those who are intervening, we like to see this role shared among the teaching teams.  A coaches' role then becomes one of helping to create a climate of collaboration for feedback to be given, and ensuring that systems such as team schedules allow for such work.

    RTI coaches can provide a number of roles and functions.  The past 2 blogs on coaching, "Coaching Role in Core Curriculum and Instruction" and "Coaching: A Tool for RTI Implementation," have discussed the importance of the tiered instructional model and the variety of ways a coach can guide and support the implementation of a strong instructional model to meet the needs of all students.

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