Minimum Requirements of a Response to Intervention Program (RtI)
IX. Ensuring Staff Knowledge And Skills Necessary To Implement RtI Programs
A school district shall take appropriate steps to ensure that staff has the knowledge and skills necessary to implement a response to intervention program and that such program is implemented consistent with the specific structure and components of the RtI process selected by the school district.
[8 NYCRR §100.2(ii)(3)]
Fidelity of Implementation
Existing research has documented that a major factor involved with unsuccessful interventions is a lack of or failure to implement the proposed intervention in the way it was intended. Fidelity addresses not only the steps involved in an intervention, but also the integrity of screening and progress monitoring procedures as well. One way schools can ensure fidelity of implementation is to make sure staff receive appropriate and sustained professional development relative to assessment procedures and interventions. Each school district must identify how it will provide staff with the appropriate professional development needed to ensure the fidelity of implementation of its RtI programs.
Fidelity of the process at the school level means consistency with which the various components are implemented across classrooms and grade levels. Fidelity of implementation means:
- intervention/instruction is delivered in the way in which it was designed to be delivered;
- screening and progress monitoring procedures are administered in a standardized manner, and an explicit decision-making model is followed;
- instruction and interventions are implemented consistent with research or evidence-based practice;
- staff receive appropriate professional development; and
- administrators provide supervision and serve as instructional leaders.
An approach to ensuring fidelity includes three dimensions (Mellard and Johnson, 2008):
- Method which includes the tools and approaches a school uses to provide feedback on how RtI is being implemented;
- Frequency regarding how often checks are conducted; and
- Support systems including feedback and professional development needed to implement a process with fidelity.
Effective implementation of a data-based decision making process like RtI requires specific sets of skills and knowledge that are central to the different roles and responsibilities of teachers and other school personnel involved in the process.
Instructional and Supervisory Staff
An effective RtI model requires knowledge and skill in the provision of instruction; monitoring progress, including collecting and displaying performance data for evaluation; and evaluating students’ trajectories of learning (the speed with which they acquire new skills) to determine the need for intervention. It also requires designing, implementing, and evaluating interventions in support of students whose trajectories of learning will not result in grade level achievement.
All staff need basic instruction in the underlying concepts (e.g., early literacy, the five core elements of literacy instruction) in order to support the process. In the case of literacy, instructional staff will need a greater depth of knowledge than noninstructional staff, but all staff will need to understand the basics to ensure that the system truly invests in literacy for all students.
Administrators may need professional development to acquire an appropriate level of knowledge of the core instructional program and the RtI program, including effective scope and sequence of instruction, instructional strategies, monitoring procedures, effective use of data, problem solving and decision making, and the identification and implementation of interventions appropriate to individual student needs.
Members of Instructional Decision-making Teams
Individuals who will be participating in instructional decision-making teams should have a broad understanding of interventions and become highly skilled in data analysis, problem solving, and decision making in support of improving instructional programs for students referred to the team.
Parents and family members are an essential part of an effective RtI model. Schools should ensure that opportunities are available to provide parents with an overview of the RtI process and its benefits, including an introduction of the model (e.g., the levels of intervention and what they comprise in terms of increasingly intensive interventions), the process by which decisions about interventions will be made, the process for communication with families about student progress, their rights to refer their children to the Committee on Special Education (CSE) at any point, and how data from an RtI process can be used as part of the process to determine if the student has a learning disability.
Strategies to Assess the Overall Effectiveness of the RtI Program
An RtI implementation plan should include strategies for evaluation of implementation fidelity and effectiveness of the model from initial steps forward. Strategies should include both annual summative evaluations to describe progress over the year and formative evaluation during each year to allow for adjustment to the RtI process if it becomes apparent that elements of the model are not being implemented accurately or are not having the desired impact.
Every district should ensure that individuals within the building and/or district have a whole-picture understanding of the model, know what data can be collected to evaluate systemic implementation, and have the skill to understand and analyze the data. The district may want to forge a partnership with higher education faculty with expertise in program evaluation in order to develop district capacity in this area.
Use of an RtI model holds promise not only for supporting individual learners and decreasing inappropriate learning disability identifications, but also for identifying and improving areas of weakness in curriculum and instruction. This level of analysis can build on data accumulated for individual student support. Districts can conduct grade and school level analyses in specific skill areas at a much more detailed level than is possible with the use of State assessment outcomes alone. These analyses may reveal the need for curriculum development alignment or expansion, reconsideration of instructional or supervisory roles in support of student outcomes, professional development for instructional and/or supervisory staff, or even reorganization of systems for more efficient use of resources.
Quality Indicators to Ensure Fidelity of Implementation
- Professional development is provided by staff that are knowledgeable in the areas of early literacy, data-based decision making and progress monitoring.
- Professional development is job embedded and ongoing and is part of the district’s overall professional development plan.
- The district has identified strategies to evaluate the effectiveness of its RtI model and to make changes as necessary.
- Administrative staff serve as instructional leaders to provide appropriate supervision and monitoring of the implementation of the RtI program.
- Procedures are in place that assess how accurately intervention and assessment procedures are followed.