Posted on 09/23/2013 at 07:22 AM by Global Reach

The state of Iowa is currently expanding the use of Response to Intervention (RTI) along with the development and use of Universal Data.  Response to Intervention (RTI) is often used in conjunction with the Tiers Model.  The Tiers Model uses data to determine that students are in need of extra academic and/or behavioral assistance in the classroom.  Tier I contains the majority of the students (80-85%) and these students are currently successful in the academic areas of reading, math, and writing.  Tier Two students (10-15%) are those who are struggling and require scientifically based interventions to increase academic skills in reading and/or math.  These interventions are typically delivered in small group settings (Title I, Reading Recovery, intensive instruction, etc.)  Data is kept to determine if the intervention is being successful or if the student may require more assistance.  Students who aren’t successful in Tier Two move into Tier 3 (1-5%) where individual and intensive instruction is given using scientifically based interventions to develop and increase academic skills.  Response to Intervention (RTI) is used throughout the Tier Model for students who aren’t successful in Tier I.   Scientifically based interventions are used with Tier 2 (group based) and Tier 3 (individualized and intensive) students to increase their academic skills.  Response to Intervention (RTI) is the process of measuring a student’s progress (or lack of progress) data that is gathered by monitoring the specific skills that are being taught through the intervention.

Universal Data is gathered through universal screening, which is a method of gathering data to determine who may be having difficulty with academic learning and who may require Response to Intervention (RTI).  Universal screening data is typically obtained by having all students complete brief screening tests at their grade in reading, math, and writing.  The data is then aggregated to provide statistical information by class or grade level to determine which students are successful (Tier 1) and which students (Tiers 2 and 3) may require Response to Intervention (RTI) to increase their academic skills to a level of success commensurate with their peers at Tier 1.  Universal Data is very useful because it can be disaggregated into groups such as special education, ELL, minority students, and social economic status (SES).   When the information is disaggregated into specific groups it is possible to determine how successful the group is, to determine the academic needs of specific groups, and to compare the data of specific groups to their overall class/grade.

One of the subgroups for whom? Universal Data can be gathered and disaggregated are EL students.  EL students often experience academic difficulty due to their lack of cognitive academic language proficiency (CALPS) or the language of academic instruction.  EL students’ skills can be compared to the skills of all other students in their class (non-ELs), but this type of comparison tends to give the impression that their skills are lower than the actually are.  Best practice is to compare EL students to their EL peers to determine which students actually need assistance from Response to Intervention at Tiers 2 and 3 of the Tiers Model.  This can be accomplished by the disaggregation of EL Universal Data scores from class/grade scores.  Ideally this disaggregation of EL scores would be completed along the lines of level of English language acquisition (comparing beginners with beginners, intermediate with intermediate and so on).  EL students who aren’t demonstrating academic proficiency in comparison with their EL peers would be good candidates for Response to Intervention (RTI) activities at both Tier 2 (group interventions) and Tier 3 (intensive individual interventions).  This comparison would be a step toward determining which EL students experience difficulty making progress with intensive interventions and may be candidates for special education assistance.   Of course, it would be expected that EL students who are determined to need Tier 2 and Tier 3 interventions would also continue to receive English language instruction with a qualified English language teacher.

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