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Implementing RTI in an Urban School District — New York City
By: Linda Wernikoff|Published: February 1, 2011
Topics: District-wide Implementation, Implementation Planning and Evaluation, K-5, Leadership, Literacy, Urban Education
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:
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:
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.
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.
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