Sunday, December 14, 2014

Tier 1 or Tier 2? That's NOT the Question

RtI is an difficult concept to wrap your mind around.  Presenters and authors share their ideas about how best to implement RtI on your campus.  Difficulties arise when campus teams process new information and discuss which steps to implement first. Arguments and misconceptions generally ensue around what's a Tier 1 or 2 intervention and how much failure it takes to get a kid into the system.

Everyone has their own idea of where to start first because they develop their own understanding of RtI based on how they think RtI should apply to their role within the organization.  With all of the uncertainty, teams ultimately fail when they move to action without understanding. Furthermore, if educators don't collectively commit to fully understanding how a successful RtI must work to support all students in learning, they might as well abandon the concept of a systemic RtI program all together.

Tier 1 or Tier 2 is not the Question.

If you want to implement a strong RtI system, here are some ideas all educators in the organization should consider about RtI before building a system of interventions.
  • RtI isn't about Intervention - Actually RtI is about learning and guaranteeing that students get access the very best instruction possible to help them learn.
  • Understand before You Implement - If you start implementing without gaining a full understanding of RtI, you can create structures that will be ineffective and more than likely lose kids.
  • Train your Staff - If you want your staff to understand RtI, they must receive training themselves.  Regional education service centers provide free training and can bring in consultants to train campus teams.
  • Build an RtI Team - An RtI team is critical to lead any campus to successful implementation of an intervention system.
  • Develop a Campus RtI Philosophy - If everyone has their own philosophy of what RtI should be, RtI will become a dirty word to all.
  • Identify What Works - Many campuses set out to implement new things without looking to see if anything that they currently do works.  Identify what interventions are currently working and weave them into your RtI system.
  • Clarify your Tiers & Triggers - This gets confusing, so it is very important that everyone align their understanding around which interventions are Tier 1, 2, 3, and more importantly what triggers are in place to prescribe interventions for kids.
  • Build Norms within your Team - These norms must include how frequently the campus will monitor student progress and how you will work together to respond when kids are not learning.
  • Identify What Data to Monitor - Data can get overwhelming, so decide as a team what data is most important to monitor at each tier.
  • Realize that RtI is a 3-5 Year Process - Be prepared to take lots of time to build your RtI process.  Rome wasn't build in a day.  Your RtI system will take lots of blood, sweat and tears to develop. 
  • Learn from Others - Here is a short list of leading experts in the field of RtI.  Begin to study their work, as it will make your work a lot easier.
    • Mike Mattos, Solution Tree Consultant and Author of Pyramid Response to Intervention and Simplifying Response to Intervention @mikemattos65
    • Austin Buffum, Solution Tree Consultant and Author of Pyramid Response to Intervention and Simplifying Response to Intervention @agbuffum
    • Chris Webber, Solution Tree Consultant and Author of Pyramid Response to Intervention, Pyramid of Behavior Interventions and Simplifying Response to Intervention  @Chi_educate
    • Jim Wright, Creator of, an outstanding website with tons of intervention ideas.

Supporting All Kids is the Answer

RtI is the answer to how we will respond when kids do not learn, but the answer won't come unless teams stop building stagnant systems and thoughtfully consider how to build a living system that continuously strives to guarantee learning for all kids.  In other words, if you fail to make a detailed system that responds when kids fail to learn, you are essentially planning to allow kids to fail.  That's why it is critical to stop worrying about Tier 1 or 2 and start focusing on what systems will support kids in the class first and outside of class second. 

No comments:

Post a Comment