Connecting What We Know About Professional Development to RTI



When my school started the implementation of RTI, the first thing we did to address staff needs was an environmental scan to assess our readiness for RTI implementation. As part of that scan we looked at our specific professional development needs around the concepts of RTI. From that environmental scan we created a professional development plan that focused on long-term, embedded training around RTI concepts.


As professionals, we know there is a lot of literature out there about RTI implementation. In that literature, we will almost always see a reference to the importance of professional development. To get RTI "right" in our schools, a professional development plan that focuses on the concepts of RTI implementation is a must. Professionals implementing RTI in a school or district need professional development content centered on:


  • Interpreting and using data to make instructional decisions
  • Research-based instructional strategies
  • Use of assessments to promote and advise instruction
  • Parental Involvement

This is a very short list of RTI implementation concepts, and they represent some of the big ideas needed to address RTI professional development.


When it comes to established standards for professional development, no one, in my opinion, has done more research on professional development than the National Staff Development Council (NSDC). When you compare the Process and Content Standards from NSDC with the components normally associated with strong RTI implementation in a school, you can literally lay the template of NSDC Standards over the identified components of a strong RTI program. Below are listed the standards identified by the National Staff Development Council as critical for a quality professional development program.


I doubt that it is a coincidence that many of the standards identified by the NSDC are also many of the components of a strong RTI program. Both are supported by strong research that has held up over time. The focus of RTI is on the learning of the students, while the NSDC Standards are focused on the learning of the adult involved in professional development. Breaking the similarities down to identified component parts, let's compare:


NSDC Concept/Idea

RTI

NSDC

Data-Driven Use of data to address needs Use of data to address needs
Evaluation Evaluation of learning Evaluation of learning
Research-Based Based on the best research-based student learning concepts Based on best the research-based adult learning concepts
Design Based on an instructional Tiered approach to address student needs Based on adult learning research to address adult learning needs
Learning Focused on the student learner Focused on the adult learner
Collaboration Collaboration about kids Collaboration for kids
Equity Effort to ensure all academic needs are met Effort to ensure all academic needs are met
Quality Teaching Focused on students Focused on students
Family Involvement Involving families in meaningful ways Involving families in meaningful ways


As I look at the comparisons of the NSDC Standards to the RTI implementation components, one thing strikes me — what we know about instruction that works best for children in our schools is the same as what we know about the needs of adults involved in professional development opportunities.


Coincidence? Probably not.

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Read what others had to say...

I think that this is a model that can be a great resource if used correctly. Good article.