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WGReading 12-13-2017 06:07 PM

RTI - how long?
I work in a K-5 school that uses an almost-RTI model. All students in core gen ed reading, Tier 2 interventions in small groups during additional time, Tier 3 1:1 interventions and SPED students served in resource/SPED for Tier 2 and 3.
We are a Title-wide school so our reading interventionists can work with any students as long as we can support it with data, and we don't have an official "entry" and "exit" protocol in place currently - the groups are based upon need and resources available.
Our school is slowly moving towards what RTI is intended to be.

I'm curious about the amount of time/resources/intervention a student receives in your school prior to being referred for SPED testing. I work with Tier 2 and Tier 3 students. I feel my students' best chance is working with me and I hang on to them as long as I can - it is really rare for me to pass a student along for more significant support than I am willing and able to provide. Some of the other reading teachers I work with seem, to me, to be impatient or quick to want to move students out to more significant interventions. They want results NOW and when weeks go by without a significant skill improvement they immediately jump to wanting to refer for SPED testing. I think part of it is a difference in our work experience (they are younger and haven't been teaching as long).

So, say your school year starts and you have a newly enrolled 2nd or 3rd grader. They came from another school so you have limited information about the type of instruction they received before they came to you. They are reading below grade level (still working on decoding cVc words, very few sight words). Assessments identify the need for intervention, so the student becomes part of a small group with a reading interventionist. How long or how much time would be spent on interventions before a SPED referral is made?

In the past, our admin has been very hesitant to agree to SPED testing, so we have 4th and 5th graders who have basically lived in intervention groups since K or 1st and who are still significantly below grade level. Some things have changed and now we are testing a bunch of kids who should have been tested years ago (IMO). But the willingness to test has now led to my colleagues wanting to jump really quickly to testing.

Sorry so long. Thanks for any input!

rwinters 12-17-2017 01:52 PM

As the Sped teacher (the only one in the building) who provides both IEP services and RTI Tier 2, it depends. To move to testing I look at how far behind they are and the number of data points I have. They must have at least 3 data points and a SMART goal with changes to support the data collection. I have had to have teachers start over or add different things to move forward. By the time the student moves to the final RTI/request of testing meeting, they must have at least 6 data points in the area of concern. And that is only one area of concerns, so if the teacher wants formal testing in several academic areas, they have to have the data to support.

Our building moto "Do what's best for the student." I don't get pushback from admin about testing; its teachers who don't understand what I have to have to be legal.

Hope this helps. If you have a specific question feel free to PM me.

Haley23 12-17-2017 02:21 PM

I'm also a sped teacher. In our building, it really depends on the kid and the situation. Legally in my state, the child must have at least 6 data points that show they aren't progressing in order to be labeled as learning disabled. We progress monitor all below grade level kids weekly in my building, so that's not really a hurdle for us. We don't have set timelines like "must spend 2 6 week cycles in each tier" or anything like that. In some cases, there are legal reasons why we can't test, such as the child needs glasses but parents won't go get them (and yes we provide free vouchers) or the child has terrible attendance.

I also know that based on the testing we give, it's extremely difficult if not impossible for a K student to qualify as learning disabled (unless they literally have NO academic skills- not a single letter, etc.) Kids who come in "low" and stay low tend to be tested by the end of 1st grade/beginning of 2nd grade, because mid-1st grade we switch to progress monitoring/testing based on real reading passages, rather than early reading skills. Generally, even kids with difficulties will show progress on early reading skills, so the evidence for testing is not there at those ages. When they're asked to do all of that at once to read a non-decodable passage, that's when the difficulty becomes more evident. On average, when a "low" kid that moves into our school later, assuming there are no other factors, they tend to get tested by the end of that school year, assuming interventions were provided with fidelity, matched the student's need, and low growth was shown.

I know this isn't true in every building/district, but my district truly doesn't provide more for kids that have a sped label, especially if the main/only problem is reading. My district has chosen to invest most in reading interventionists and coaches. In most buildings, there are more reading intervention teachers than sped teachers. In my building we have 2 of each, but the other sped teacher and I also teach math and writing, and of course are also responsible for case management, testing, and all of the paperwork that goes along with IEPs and evaluations.

Often times, the interventionists are able to see kids for more time and in smaller groups than we can. They also have access to actual tier 3/intervention programs, whereas typically nothing is bought for us. For many years, children who got tested and moved into sped groups actually began receiving worse/less interventions than they were getting in title 1. For example, they'd move from a group of 3 students that was meeting for 45 minutes, 5 days per week, to a group of 7 students that was meeting for 30 minutes, 4 days per week.

Classroom teachers were fully aware of this and continued to fight tooth and nail for sped testing. I never understood why. I thought that perhaps despite me always saying this isn't true, they thought I had some "special sped knowledge" that other teachers don't have that could "fix" disabilities. Some of my teammates felt that it took some responsibility off of their plate because they could "prove" that something was "wrong" with the child and not feel as guilty if they didn't make as much progress.

My district/building has made some changes this year. For one, they've quit referring to title 1 as "tier 2" and sped as "tier 3" and instead have made these labels based on time and intensity in interventions, as they should be. Under ESSA, interventionists are now legally allowed to meet IEP minutes. This has solved the problem of kids getting identified and then receiving less services. In most cases, we haven't gotten to the point where kids get identified for sped and actually start to receive more services, though. I would like to see us get to a point where the IEP actually provided more time/more intensity (even if it's not me who gets to teach the smallest groups).

So, my long winded answer is that it doesn't really matter when a child is tested because basically the IEP is providing the child with some extra paperwork and a label attached to their name. It doesn't come with more or better services. We're not allowed to provide modifications for any LD student and any gen ed student can get accommodations (including for state testing) so that's not a factor either. I suspect that more schools are like this than people realize. Most teachers at my school continue to see getting low kids into sped as an accomplishment even with all evidence that it doesn't provide more for the child.

ConnieWI 12-19-2017 07:36 PM

In My District...
My school board and administration adopted the guidelines written by our State Dept. of Public Instruction...perhaps your state has something similar. The State Dept. also has a list of approved materials that can be used for tier 2 and tier 3 interventions.

In my district that means students are tested using MAPS three times (Sept., Jan., and May) per year. Those students scoring below the 24% are eligible for intervention. Along with this testing, teachers also use recent Fountas and Pinnell reading testing, math chapter assessments, and classroom recommendations. Previous attendance in an tier 2 intervention class is also considered.

My district uses a intervention schedule called PIE. P = practice, I = intervention, and E = extension. Each grade level has thirty minutes of PIE time four days per week. (During the fifth day, teachers meet with the reading specialist, school psychologist, math specialist, etc. to discuss concerns/students and plan for PIE.) PIE is built into the schedule when the principal determines each grade level's schedule (art, music, phy ed, library, computer, guidance, and PIE). PIE time works well because when intervention students are pulled from the classroom, they do not miss whatever the classroom teacher might be teaching during that half hour.

During PIE time, each child at that grade level attends a practice, intervention, or extension session. The classroom teaches at that grade level along with special ed, the librarian, grade level aides, gifted/talented teacher, interventionists, and the reading specialist each work with a group of students. There are usually four to seven practice groups, three intervention groups, and one or two extension groups. Practice groups are very fluid groups meaning a student may move from one of another depending on his/her needs.

Practice (the P in PIE) includes whatever the grade level determines is needed. (Examples: math focus...One group might be working on math facts, while another is reviewing how to tell time, while a third group is practicing subtraction with trading. reading focus...One group might be reviewing main idea while another group is writing summaries, while a third group is practicing fluency.) It just depends on what the individual students in the practice group need.

Intervention (the I in PIE) students either have math or reading intervention with two interventionists and the reading specialist. In a few cases, some students may attend both reading and math intervention, but that does not happen often. These are tier 2 and tier 3 RtI students whose MAP testing, F & P testing, math assessments, teacher recommendation, and previous tier 2 intervention make them eligible for intervention.

My district has two rounds of intervention. One round begins in October and ends in January, and the second round begins in February and ends in May. If a child is working at tier 3 and headed for special ed testing, the referral is usually made in November/December or March/April so that by the time the tier 3 round of intervention is over, the child has either qualified or not qualified for special ed.

LLI (Leveled Literacy Intervention by Fountas and Pinnell) is used for tier 2 reading intervention students. SRA and several other canned programs are used for tier 3 reading intervention students. Tier 3 reading intervention is only taught by the reading specialist.

Math Recovery is used for tier 2 and tier 3 math intervention students. All interventionist have been trained in Math Recovery.

All intervention students are tested weekly using STARR testing. This testing is done in the grade level classroom on an IPad.

Once a student completes tier 3 intervention and STARR testing shows flat or downward lack of growth, a special ed referral is made. The school psychologist with paperwork signed by the parents does additional testing to qualify or not qualify the child for special ed.

Extension (the E in PIE) are gifted and talented students. The GT teacher and/or librarian teach these groups of students. Their focus is reading or math beyond what is happening in the classroom...genre study, critical thinking activities, logic problems, etc. If a GT students needs to be in the practice group, he/she does not attend the GT group. These groups are also fluid because reading GT students might not be math GT students and vise versa.

Each adult sets classroom management procedures. Our school district uses PBIS, and all staff have been trained. Expectations include respect, responsibility, and safety. Because intervention groups are small (one to four student per group), and practice and enrichment groups are smaller than the regular classroom case load, management is not much of a problem.

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