How does RTI fit in with other policy initiatives?
Response from Evelyn Johnson
So, I think it's important that instead of asking how RTI fits in with other policy initiatives you ask, "What is the purpose of our school?" And while we might get a lot of variability across schools when we ask that, ultimately most schools would probably give some answer that related to improved academic, social, and emotional outcomes for the students that they serve. In that regard, RTI and PBS and tiered service delivery models in general provide a really nice framework for thinking about how to fit all of the various initiatives and research-based practices that we know are highly effective for students really well, and they do that by focusing our attention on first improving the core instructional program for our students. We can do that by evaluation of our performance benchmarks, our academic assessments, our behavioral assessments, and taking a good, hard look at whether what we are doing is generally effective for most of our students before we proceed with interventions for those kids who are at risk for not meeting our academic and behavioral outcomes.
So, in evaluating our core instructional program, what the RTI framework does for us is gets us as a staff to look at what things are going really well for us and what things aren't going so well for us. We primarily look at assessment data in order to start those decisions but we don't stop with assessment data. When we find that there's a problem, for example, let's say we see that most of our students are not meeting our academic outcomes in the area of math. We don't just look at ways to immediately improve math test scores, instead we take a look at the curriculum, we take a look at the instruction, we maybe take a look at the qualifications of our teachers. We may have really terrific elementary school teachers but they may all specialize in the area of reading and writing and not have strengths in math. So, that would indicate a need for a professional development in those areas, and so through that systems approach the RTI framework really allows a school then to consider which policy interventions, which pieces of the research knowledge base would be most appropriate for solving their particular problems in order to help them reach those goals of improved academic and behavioral outcomes for their students.