RTI Action Network

Implementing RTI in an Urban School District — New York City

By: Linda WernikoffPublished: February 1, 2011
Topics: District-wide Implementation, Implementation Planning and Evaluation, K-5, Leadership, Literacy, Urban Education


Why RTI?

For far too long, schools viewed special education as the only viable option for struggling students. As a result, increasing numbers of students were unnecessarily referred for special education, interventions for struggling students were not available in general education, and students were not referred until the third grade after not meeting proficiency on State ELA and Math assessments.

RTI provided a school-wide approach that promoted:

Getting Started

To ensure a collaborative approach and organizational support, a District Leadership Team was formed, comprised of representatives from general education, special education, the State Education Department, colleges and universities, and the teachers’ union. The District Leadership Team aligned policies and began to create the infrastructure needed to support widespread use of an RTI model. The team decided to initiate an RTI model addressing early grade literacy. They developed a District/School Action Plan that included the following components:

Once the District/School Action Plan was developed, the District Leadership Team decided to start small, introducing the RTI model in two schools. Because RTI implementation requires significant changes to school organization, staff roles, and the allocation of resources, they thought that starting small would enable them to provide ongoing support to the schools and not overwhelm them.

These two schools would later become demonstration sites for other schools. Starting with two schools also made it easier to obtain feedback from those implementing the program about what worked and what didn’t, the professional development needed, and the supports and resources necessary to successfully implement the RTI model.

The selected schools had strong leadership and a well established core curriculum. Strong school leaders were essential; they would have to:

The schools followed the process described below when implementing RTI:

Schools reported that a critical factor to their success was providing ongoing site-based coaching to teachers to support program implementation with fidelity.

The results for the two demonstration sites are presented below. Both schools experienced a decrease in the number of kindergarten and first graders “at risk” for literacy.

Student Gains in DIBELS Measures - Kindergarten

Student Gains in DIBELS Measures – Grade 1

The following year the initiative was expanded to an additional 14 schools. Those schools had the opportunity to visit the initial two schools to learn about the RTI model and to speak with administrators and teachers prior to implementation. Schools reported that this feedback was a critical factor in getting them started with implementation.

Keys to Success

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Read what others had to say...

Dr. Rodriquez the RTI model in the article was used in schools that applied to be part of the initiative in response to an RFP that was promulgated. The schools were from different districts. The initiative was introduced in the 2005-2006 schol year. In the schools participating in this initiative all school staff received professional development on RTI and training and on-site coaching in implementation including progress monitoring. Fidelity was measured by coaches using fidelity checklists that were developed.

I am quite interested in which districts used this plan, what years and how fidelity was measured. I would also like to know the follow- up scores are for the students 2 & 3 years after RTI implementation. In my experience, as an in-school professional, Generally, NYC School support professionals such as Psychologist, Reading Specialist, Resource Room teachers reading teachers, etc were not well versed in RTI implimentation or practices.
Dr. A. Rodriguez

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