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September 20, 2017

Nationally recognized instructional program to help prevent learning problems before they escalate 

photo of staff working in conference room
Duanesburg teachers and administrators are pictured working together to develop the district's Response to Intervention program.

August 17, 2009—To ensure all students are receiving the type of instruction they need to be successful, Duanesburg Central School District teachers will begin piloting a nationally recognized instructional program this year.

Response to Intervention (RTI) is a multi-tiered model of instruction, in which teachers provide general education students, who may be at risk for reading and other learning disabilities, with increasingly intensive intervention services.

According to the New York State Education Department, the goal behind RTI is to identify struggling students early and provide them with the adequate instruction they need as soon as possible to help prevent small learning problems from becoming insurmountable gaps.

By providing students with more academic support earlier in their school careers, RTI can prevent unnecessary referrals to special education.

The RTI model originated from new guidelines established under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which became effective in 2005. RTI recommends that school districts use scientific, research-based interventions—strategies proven to be effective in helping students learn— to determine whether a student has a learning disability.

The program has proven successful in other parts of the country, and all New York state school districts are required to have a RTI program in place by 2012. It will become part of the district’s evaluation process to determine if a kindergarten through fourth-grade student has a learning disability in the area of reading.

To help implement this program, an interdisciplinary group of teachers met this summer to begin laying the foundation for the district’s program. Over the course of two days, they determined the levels and types of interventions to be provided to students, the frequency with which student progress will be monitored, the amount of data to be collected and the process at each building.

A core team of RTI coaches and team leaders will support staff and teachers with professional development opportunities throughout the year as well as offer guidance and support.

“We want to ensure that we have a high-quality program in place by the state’s deadline,” said Duanesburg Elementary School Principal Erica Ryan. “Implementing a program of this scope requires a significant amount of time, planning and professional development.”

What students and parents can expect this year
Students in kindergarten through eighth grade will be tested on their reading ability three times during the year—in September, January and May.

Teachers will use the results from these universal screenings to help identify students who are at risk for reading and other learning difficulties, and will tailor their instruction to address students’ specific needs. Under the RTI model, students who need additional support will receive it in the general education setting where the first tier of intervention services is delivered.

“This is an important difference from other programs, in which students who need more support than the general education teacher could provide were immediately taken out of the classroom to meet individually or as a small group with a reading teacher, for example,” explained Ryan.

In the next tier, classroom teachers provide secondary interventions or an expert will work with students in small groups—either inside or outside of the classroom. Students who fail to respond to instruction in the first two tiers would enter tier three, which provides more specialized instruction with greater frequency or duration.

Students who do not respond to the interventions would be further evaluated.

Parents will receive written notification before an intervention is used, along with specific details about the method chosen to help their children improve. Updates will also be provided about how well the intervention is working and the next course of action planned for the student.

“There’s no doubt that it will take time to fully implement this program,” said Duanesburg Central School District Superintendent Christine Crowley. “Fortunately, we have a great group of faculty members who regularly collaborate with their peers to maximize student success.”