7 Sep

Here’s a couple more new acronyms to add to your lexicon. These are not limited to special education. No, they are coming to regular education classrooms nationwide and especially (as far as I know) to the state of Georgia.

RTI is Response To Intervention, which is the latest buzzword burning across all levels of the educational spectrum. In fact, my blog traffic will probably jump just because I’m referencing it. Everyone is talking about it, or at least writing about it so I though I would throw in my two cents. POI is Pyramid Of Interventions, which might be Georgia’s tricky take on RTI. Here, the two seem to be used together and the state is basically mandating that the RTI/POI approach be used effective immediately. We just had a recent faculty presentation on it, and it certainly caused a lot of buzz amongst the teachers. At least for the regular teachers.

What RTI basically involves is a sort of approach that behaviorists have always used. Basically, if a student is falling behind in a subject, the teacher begins collecting data and tracks the students’ progress. There are some interventions that the teacher can try such as peer tutoring, extra practice, a graphic organizer or some other instructional strategy in order to help the student progress in the curriculum. If the student fails to respond to the intervention, then another intervention is attempted and the student is tracked some more. If the student makes progress, that’s great! If they do not, you progress up a level on the pyramid of intervention (POI). The intent is to keep students from falling behind and to keep them from having to go into special education. The goal is to have less than 5% of the school population in special education as opposed to the present rate which is about 13% in our system. This is a procedure not altogether foreign to most special educators because we tend to be more behaviorally oriented. However, the general education teachers are not from behaviorist backgrounds, so they almost instantly begin thinking in terms of learning styles, modalities, multiple intelligence and other assorted theories that may be very nice but are not really shown to be efficacious according to any sort of empirical research.

What really makes the regular ed. teachers groan (especially at the high school level) is the increased paperwork this is going to involve. Much of the load that us special educators have been carrying for years is being shifted to the regular teachers. And for a high school teacher who may teach 150 students per day, this is VERY substantial! This is why a collaborative model of instruction begins making more and more sense because well-trained special educators can help with the data collection and interpretation as well as help implement research-based interventions that might yield some results. However, this does not appear to be the way things are shaping up from what I can see in my school. Special education seems to be more and more marginalized, and the emphasis seems to be on trying to bypass and eliminate that exceptional subgroup altogether. Hey, if kids can learn better, I’m all for it! I have other areas I can (and will) teach. But regular education has been struggling with the load they already have. Increasing the non-teaching paperwork burden on those folks will not improve the special educator’s lot, nor will it improve teaching quality. It might make an already severe teaching shortage even moreso. Plus their concept of “research-based” is sort of loose compared to what I’m used to seeing in special education literature.

If you haven’t heard of RTI, you need to bone up on it. I’ll extend on the topic more (because we were guaranteed more in-service meetings on it) and provide a few resources to look at.


I also want to talk about ED in 08 at some point.



7 Responses to “RTI & POI”

  1. T. September 7, 2007 at 11:39 pm #

    Luckily, the behavior analysis course that I took from UGA online this summer focused primarily on RTI so even though I’m “just a parapro”, I’m about the only one at my school who has any clue what this is. The school psychologist mentioned interventions necessary to refer some of their kids for services to some regular ed teachers in our workroom and they FREAKED. I think he used a bit of it as “scare tactics” (8-12 weeks of intervention because I don’t want to deal with a behavior problem?? No thanks, I’ll keep him!) but it made me realize that the regular ed teachers really have no idea what kind of work it really takes to be a special ed teacher.

    Something that is going on that irritates the life out of me is the fact that some teachers view our class (Primary MI/Interrelated) as a “dumping ground” for problem students. One particular child, a first grader, is supposed to just be pulled out for resource, however, the resource teacher can’t handle her acting out so she’s been sent to our room where she is for 5 hours of the day. Is this the least restrictive environment for this child? Heck no. She’s too bright for our class. Ugh. Most recently, she brought me her homework folder from her regular ed first grade teacher with a post-it on the front that read “Do whatever you want with this” and she signed it. What kind of possible damage did this teacher do? I know she’s damaged her standing as a teacher in my eyes but who cares what I, a lowly parapro thinks.

    Thanks for letting me vent. I love your blog.

  2. Dick dalton September 10, 2007 at 7:06 am #

    Glad you like the blog, T! Yeah, i know the “dumping ground” mentality all too well. I have to constantly defend my paras and kids from abusive dumping practices. As far as that individual student you mentioned, that looks to be a violation of the IEP. I’ve known more than one parent to give a school hell for less than that.

    As for “lowly” paras, I happen to know several classrooms where the teachers aren’t as competent and they actually let the paras run things. Unfortunately, the pay is about as low as you can get!

  3. Erica September 23, 2007 at 12:26 pm #

    Hi Dick,

    I’ve been reading your blog the past few days and really enjoying it. I have a blog myself (adolescentpsych.blogspot.com), so I know how hard it is to maintain. I’m a science writer, and I’m researching a story about the controversy of connecting ASD to the immune system. I found your post on PANDAS very interesting, and I know you said you wouldn’t blog about it again, but I was wondering if maybe we could talk about it briefly via email? No pressure, but I’d love to hear from you.


  4. Erica September 23, 2007 at 6:11 pm #

    Hi again,

    My email’s westlyer@gmail.com. Sorry about that.


  5. John Lloyd September 27, 2007 at 2:42 pm #

    Dick, in addition to some relevant links on TeachingLD.org and on TeachEffectively.com, I have something for you on the RTI front. Please send me your snailmail address.



  6. Stacy October 6, 2007 at 11:43 am #

    I did a post about this here: http://stacyone.typepad.com/slices_ostacy/2007/10/the-wrong-respo.html

    As a (future) GenEd teacher, I do see some of the dumping mentality, but I’m also frustrated by the hand-tying that this process does. I got an interesting comment to my post on my blog and wouldn’t mind you taking a look at it. You are probably much better equipped to answer it than I am.

  7. Jan November 14, 2007 at 9:23 pm #

    I found your post to be pretty accurate about RTI. However, many of the practices in RTI and the POI are just good teaching methods anyway. I feel that special education should be reserved for the ones that really need it the most. Our pendulum has swung too far to the right for too long (OHI’s especially). I do beleve that this process will weed out the unnecessary referrals and leave the ones that require the most intensive curriculum. Thanks for giving me food for thought. After we’ve done this for about a year, I’m sure we will have a lot more to discuss…

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