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RtI~ Love It or Leave It?

How is your school coming along with the process of Response to Intervention (RtI)?   Is your school finding success with it or are you still in the process of trying to find your way?  I have found that a lot of schools are still trying to find what works for them. 

We have been implementing RtI in our school for several years now.  Each year, the process gets tweaked and improved, but I think we have found a system that works for us and more importantly is helping our students.  

Our school uses the 3-tiered model.  Tier 1 is where all of our students are considered to be at within our school.  Tier 2 would be small group targeted instruction and Tier 3 is where your most intensive instruction is conducted one-on-one or one-on-two instruction.

I am going to try explaining how our school implements Tier 1- hopefully in a short, concise, easy to follow manner!  Tiers 2 and 3 will follow in coming weeks.  To include all 3 tiers in one post would be too much information!  I would like to keep you sane and not drive you INsane!  It is summer vacation after all!  :)

Tier 1:  
~  all students in the school start in this tier
~  uses scientific, evidenced- based core instruction
~  data driven decisions
~  universal screening 
~  80% of your students should be successful in this tier

At our school,  we have many support systems in place to help our students find success in Tier 1.  These include but are not limited to:
~  scientific, evidenced-based core instruction (if too many of your students 
     are not being successful in Tier 1, you will need to look at your core    
     instruction- for example how you teach reading or math- to see if your
     school needs to make a change
~  we use Acuity to help us get ready for state testing and is aligned to our 
    grade level expectations- this provides our school some of the data to use
     in making decisions on whether students are being successful 
~  Developmental Reading Assessment 2 (DRA) is what we use for our 
     universal screening.  We also use phonemic assessment tools for the 
     younger students (k-1).
~  assignment books for grades 3-5
~  after school tutoring for grades 1-5
~  progress reports sent home every two weeks
~  Title 1 reading and math services

So to recap...We give students the DRA and/or phonemic awareness assessments to all students several times per year for our universal screening.  Then I (our school's reading specialist) take a look at students' scores and determine who is below grade-level and how far.  If students are below whatever cutoff point we have decided on for each grade level, they are then placed into Tier 2.  I will explain how Tier 2 works next week.

All other students who are progressing proficiently, stay in Tier 1.  Tier 1 for us happens in the regular classrooms.  Teachers use their data from Acuity, DRA, and common assessments to form groups within their class to reteach skills and strategies that some students are still needing to improve upon.  It is like a continuous cycle of learning.  We have a set time period every day for RtI- 30 minutes.  Teachers can form groups within their own class or combine with other same grade-level teachers to form groups. Then each teacher teaches what the groups that she is in charge of needs.

I hope that you found this explanation of Tier 1 helpful and informative.  It's a dry subject, but an important subject to understand.  RtI can be so helpful to students and teachers once you find a way to make it work for your school.  Each school is going to make it be successful in slightly different ways.  Just like anything in teaching, you have to learn it and then tweak it to make it your own!  I would really love to hear how your school is doing on this journey of RtI and how it is working for you.  :)

If you or your team is struggling with RTI and the documentation needed for it, these binders and graphs may help you with that.  The binders have graphs for data plotting for teachers and a separate booklet for students to track their own progress!  Students love that and it is very motivating!
Tracking RTI progress with graphs

Tracking student RTI progress

Tracking RTI progress with graphs for teachers and students

I have binders for each of the grades of kindergarten through third grade.  Just click here or on the pictures above to view them!


  1. You did a great job explaining RTI and how you do it at your school. We've been using RTI in our school for about 3 years now. We use Aimsweb and MAP testing as our screener. There is lots of paperwork involved, but I believe it is a very effective way to meet the needs of all of our students. I'm looking forward to reading about what you do for Tier 2 & 3 students.

  2. Our first grade team along with our literacy coach and ESE teacher participated in intervention groups for 30 minutes, 4 days a week. Our literacy coach compared last years growth (no intervention groups)to this years and last year 45% of students increased 4 reading levels (we use the FAIR assessment here in Florida) and this year we jumped to 72% of students showing 4 levels of growth. We are hoping that the entire school goes to grade wide intervention groups next year!

    The Resourceful Apple

  3. I think it's interesting to read and hear how differently each school interprets and implements RTI :) Thanks for this posts it's great to find new ideas!

    Jessica Stanford
    Mrs. Stanford's Class Blog

  4. I am looking forward to reading the rest of your posts on RTI. I think my school has a good handle on tier 1 but when it comes to tier 2/3 I struggle a bit more. Thanks for the great information!
    Light A Fire in Third

  5. Thanks for sharing! Our RtI looks similar to this, too. We use MAP and Fountas and Pinnell to help determine placement of our kiddos in tier 2. We also have a designated half hour for RtI, but we use it as Targeted Instruction--all students receive instruction even if they are above grade level. This year, I taught the above level kids and we worked on mythology, Shakespeare, and African American history/issues to name a few. It was great extension for them while others were working on improving basic reading skills.

    The biggest problem we have is people. If we don't have any student teachers, than we have difficulties with groups that are too large--not only for a teacher to handle, but also because we don't have a classroom that can hold them all! :)

    Lifelong Learning

    Looking forward to your next posts.

  6. Admittedly, RTI is one of those things that I don't think too much about. Maybe that's a bad thing and I shouldn't have said that out loud. :) Is it safe to say that RTI was around even before RTI was around? Regardless, hearing about how your school and others are working with it is good to be aware of.
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

  7. Thanks for sharing how your school does RTI. This is very similar to what I've seen, too.


  8. Thank you so much, Connie! It's hard to describe it all in one post that doesn't get too long or dry. I, too, believe that RtI is worthwhile doing. I have it worked at our school to where there isn't as much paperwork as before.

  9. Tammy, those are some amazing results! Just makes you feel so good to be able to help those students who need a little extra! Thank you so much for commenting. :)

  10. I have found that too, Jessica, that each school implements RtI differently. It is important that each one finds what works for them. I really appreciate you coming to comment!

  11. It is definitely a work in progress, Julie. It looks different for us now than it did just a couple years ago. Always tweaking and trying to serve our students in a better way. Thank you Julie for coming by!

  12. Jennifer, our RtI does sound similar! I like what you say your classroom teachers are doing to serve above grade level students. We split our groups too so those needing extra work on basics are in one group and above level work on other things. One of my biggest problems is staffing too!! I need more people! :)

  13. Tammy, the basic idea of RtI has been around a long time! Teachers used to call a way of teaching so that everyone got it "teaching for mastery". Now it is more formal and organized. And it does work. :) Convince you yet??? :)

  14. Michelle, it definitely works for us. And that is what is important- find what works at your school. Thank you so much for coming by!

  15. How does this work for the gifted students and/or very high level readers? How are they getting a year's growth from where they started? Thanks in advance for your answer. :)

  16. Just read Jennifer's post... good to hear! Any ways others address those high level kids?

  17. I am so sorry, Maureen, I just now saw your question about gifted/ high readers in RtI. We service them in tier I in the classroom. The teachers are supposed to service these students just like they service lower readers- where ever the need is. It may be that the higher reader needs more informational text, deeper levels of comprehension, etc...Sometimes they are serviced by working on plays, doing book clubs, literacy groups, etc... Just depends on the students and their particular needs. Thanks so much for coming by!


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