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What’s Missing in MTSS/RTI Implementation?

By Susan Hall
 | Oct 25, 2017

MSSI/RTI Implementation Many schools are currently implementing multitier systems of support/response to intervention (MTSS/RTI). So why aren’t there substantial gains in literacy scores? The reason is some of the very components that make MTSS/RTI effective are missing when implemented. Let’s take a look at two critical elements that administrators often overlook when introducing campus reading intervention plans.

The first is building staff buy-in by focusing on a few key goals. The schools that achieve success have personalized MTSS on their campuses and use data to focus on reading intervention strategies and goals. When MTSS is positioned as something the district expects, teachers are less likely to embrace it. They do respond when the principal says we need to implement RTI because of a specific reason related to our students. An example is when fewer second graders leave the school year at benchmark than entered in the fall. When principals exude their passion that this data is not OK, and together we can change it, more teachers will rally around to help.

Leaders who get the best staff buy-in work collaboratively with their staff to establish a few key goals to monitor throughout the year. Few is the key word here. The number of goals should be limited and the goals should be meaningful to the school’s situation.

The second key component is achieving clarity about the school’s assessments and how to use the data collected from them. Too many schools are giving assessments and not really utilizing the data to inform decisions. Schools getting the best results are clear about what each assessment provides. They are aware that they need four kinds of assessments: one early literacy universal screening instrument (like DIBELS, AIMSweb, etc.), two diagnostic assessment tools (one for phonological awareness and one for phonics), the ability to progress monitor after intervention instruction, and one good outcome measure typically designated by the state. Too often there is a lack of understanding that effective universal screeners can’t do the job of a diagnostic assessment and visa-versa. Having too many overlapping assessments is equally unproductive and demotivating to staff.

Schools achieving the most gains are using MTSS/RTI as a framework to improve literacy outcomes for students. One important yet often overlooked component is articulating a few meaningful goals personalized to the school. A second important component is choosing effective assessment instruments and supporting teachers in learning how to use the data to make decisions for the benefit of students.

Is your MTSS/RTI implementation missing these key components?

Susan HallSusan Hall is an ILA member, educational consultant, and founder of 95 Percent Group, Inc. She is the author of multiple books including Jumpstart RTI: Using RTI in Your Elementary School Right Now (Corwin) and Implementing Response to Intervention: A Principal’s Guide (Corwin). Follow her on Twitter.

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