How to Create an RTI Intervention

I set out to unravel and get to the heart of Response to Intervention (RTI) like I’ve done before with close reading.  I was surprised to read on the RTI Network’s website that, “there is no single, thoroughly researched and widely practiced ‘model’ of the RTI process.”  Of course, that would be too easy, ha!

I started looking at the triangle tier diagram wondering if I could improve on it only to discover that if you’ve seen one triangle diagram, you’ve seen one triangle diagram. There are a lot of differences from one to the other.  Some show that tier 3 is special education services, some show that special ed is the next step after the triangle.  Some indicate that tier 1 includes all students. The RTI Network says that tier 1 is low-level interventions in the classroom that not all students would need.  They state that when these tier 1 interventions are successful, students are “returned to the regular classroom program.” So that would mean that students who never need interventions are actually not a part of tier 1.

Here’s what I concluded: each school/district is going to choose what RTI means to them and how it is implemented in their jurisdiction.  One thing stays the same: teachers need a way to document interventions and create interventions regardless of how their schools define tiers. For example in my building special education is not on the pyramid and the only tier 3 support my building currently has is Reading Recovery for K-1. Classroom teachers have to create all interventions using what they have access to in their classrooms. This is the first year where I have been in a position to provide direct tier 2 support. (Even as a special education teacher, I do not have access to tier 3 interventions.)
My job this year is to help classroom teachers create successful, purposeful, data drive interventions that lead students either through the special education identification process or help them go
back to core instruction.

Big Picture
I help teachers take these data, guide them in creating an intervention, create a SMART goal, and determine how they will collect the data. I love this. It works no matter the size of the group. Here's a snapshot of how I do that.

For this example, if these guys are identified with learning disabilities and also receive tier 2 interventions from the classroom teacher in addition to the core reading instructions she provides.
As a result, the classroom teacher has a smart goal (Read plan & SLO). I have also created a smart goal for this group.

Goal #1: When given daily small group reading, Polar Bears will increase their guided reading level from 3/C to F/10 by March 1.

Goal #2: When given daily small group targeted reading, Polar Bears will decrease the number of errors on a DRA 4/C from 51% accuracy to 90% on running records by January 31 to demonstrate independence on a DRA 4.

The second goal was added once we saw they were not reading what was written in the book and felt they needed a separate goal to work on this particular skill with me in a group but this was layered with the 1st.

From their data, which we used their mid-year DRAs to set the baseline for the intervention. Then the SMART goal. So what did this intervention look like? We talked about not changing anything in their guided reading as we could see they weren't reading what was written, we theorized adding a reward for reading correctly was going to be our first stop. Hence, the short time frame for the goal.
The Plan: keep doing targeted guided reading in Level DRA 4s and add a reward for reading each word correctly. The other change--keep the same book for the week to really focus on decoding first and spend the last day on comprehension.

The Problem: Progress monitoring. The DRA was going to be the pre and post-intervention data. They needed to be Independent 4 in a month.  I decided to pre/post each guided reading book. To not take group time on Tuesday, I’d pull them Monday for a cold read to create the pretest data. The post running record would be Friday. 4 days to work the text.

The Reward: My school psychologist always suggests using something that is highly motivating for the student. (I used beads to keep track of words read correctly.) With both of the boys: 1 word---candy. Yes, candy. (I know!) To help not let them walk off with 100 pieces apiece; I set up an exchange. I would also change that exchange each day as they got better. For example: first read--15 correct words equals 1 piece.  Second read--20 pieces equals 1 piece. And so on. I also keep track of the beads they were earning. This would help me gauge what changes I needed to make to keep them moving. Remember the end goal.

If these two boys didn’t already have an IEP, this change could be added to their RTI data showing a change in intervention. For myself and the classroom teacher, the goal is larger--we want them to grow as readers and not move into 3rd grade as nonreaders.

They still have a couple of weeks to go before I know if this work. I'll update you on their progress. The thing is that even if it doesn't work--it's made them better decoders and we’ll have new information to use to go forward with, to change the intervention and make it even more tailored to them and more specific to help them become independent fours.

I hope this idea gives you an idea on how to change things up and help get very specific about what students need to move. Make sure to grab a copy of the workbook to help guide you in making small data-driven decisions to move students within the RTI framework.

Until Next Time,


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Welcome to my all thing special education blog. I empower busy elementary special education teachers to use best practice strategies to achieve a data and evidence driven classroom community by sharing easy to use, engaging, unique approaches to small group reading and math. Thanks for Hopping By.

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