A recent Teach.Learn.Grow blog, “Profiles in Partnership: An Illinois school finds success in early intervention using MAP,” talked about how one of NWEA’s partner districts, the Woodstock School District 200, uses MAP as part of its Response to Intervention (RTI) framework. It’s always gratifying to read these success stories and know that our organization continues to live out its mission of “partnering to help all kids learn.”
Differentiating without Data is Much Harder
After reading the blog, I began reminiscing about my own 15 years in the classroom. Without a doubt, the most daunting task that I faced was identifying my struggling students quickly so that I could begin intervention before they fell further behind. Without the appropriate diagnostic resources or remediation tools, I had to use trial and error methods to understand just how far my struggling kids were performing below expectations. I can’t help but think about how much we would have benefited from access to an intervention model and reliable measurement instruments (such as RTI and MAP). It would have made it not just possible, but probable, to identify my students’ skill gaps and deficits early on in the school year.
I vividly remember writing out a month’s worth of reading lesson plans prior to the beginning of my first year teaching first grade. Imagine my surprise when I began teaching and during the first five minutes, I realized that the majority of my students had not mastered the phonemic awareness skills taught in kindergarten. Imagine their surprise when faced with the expectation of using phonemic awareness skills (that they did not possess) to sound out the words on the first page of their reading primers! Over my years of teaching, I changed my lesson plans on the fly countless times to meet my students where they were.
New Tools Make Intervention More Effective
Fortunately, technology exists today that we barely dreamed possible in 1985. As an adaptive assessment, MAP can serve as an efficient and accurate universal screener in a RTI model. Teachers can immediately identify which students need help in certain areas and make instructional adjustments to meet those needs.
Schools and districts using the RTI framework are achieving positive results like those described in the Woodstock School District 200. What are the keys to RTI’s success?
As part of Universal Screening, teachers use multiple measures that include assessments, student classroom performance and observations to identify at-risk students.
Teachers monitor their students using assessments evaluated by the National Center on Response to Intervention (NCRTI). CRTI partnered with the National Center on Intensive Intervention to “establish a standard process to evaluate the scientific rigor of commercially available tools and interventions that can be used in an RTI context” (NCRTI, 2014).
RTI’s universal screeners make possible the early identification of at-risk students.
Teachers can evaluate growth using the data produced as a result of Universal Screening and quickly identify skill deficits that can lead to early intervention.
Evidence-based interventions enable progress monitoring.
Data-based decision making means that students receive instruction and intervention for targeted skills in which they exhibit deficiencies.
Progress monitoring tools provide teachers with the ability to adjust the intensity and type of intervention depending on student responsiveness.
Data-based decision making leads to more accurate targeting of students’ deficits and skill gaps.
When teachers administer MAP as part of the RTI model, students receive the benefit of a universal screener that enables teachers to confidently measure their students’ performance with the use of accurate and efficient assessment tool. This can lead to the timely and accurate identification of skill deficits. With the implementation of an appropriate RTI plan, it is possible for our teachers’ focus to move from intervention to prevention. The good news is that many districts and schools that are embracing RTI are moving in that direction already. My own daughters are fortunate enough to attend an elementary school that has implemented an effective RTI model: one that has already led to the identification of a few foundational skills that my second grader is lacking. I wonder how long it may have taken those skill gaps to be identified without the aid of a universal screening resource.