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Coaching RtI Considerations and Challenges. Literacy Coaching Summit, 2009 Barbara A. Marinak, Ph.D. [email protected] Definitions of Coaching. Coaching as a noun: an expert who trains or instructs Person- literacy coach/reading specialist Place- classrooms, model lessons, PLCs

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coaching rti considerations and challenges
Coaching RtI Considerations and Challenges

Literacy Coaching Summit, 2009

Barbara A. Marinak, Ph.D.

[email protected]

definitions of coaching
Definitions of Coaching
  • Coaching as a noun: an expert who trains or instructs
    • Person- literacy coach/reading specialist
    • Place- classrooms, model lessons, PLCs
    • Thing- research, program materials (TEs, white papers, etc)

There are studies indicating that critically reading intervention manuals can help teachers become familiar with new instructional methods. This research suggests that teacher’s manuals can act as a “guide on the side”--providing vignettes of complex instructional language. Some examples include strategic prompting during guided reading or the conversation that takes place when engaging in reciprocal teaching. The key concept, however, is critically reading the manuals. Such tools should always be viewed as suggestions (Brown, 2009).

darkness no attempt
darkness: no attempt
  • Give it a try. Draw a line between dark/ness. Try the first syllable. If needed, write car above dark in book. Does this help you? Write mess above ness. Does this help you? Put the two syllables together. Try reading the word again.
after reading text pyramid
After Reading: Text Pyramid


How many babies do giraffes and penguins have at a time?


Use two words to describe where the penguin and the giraffe live.


In three words, list how the giraffe and the penguin have babies.


In four words, describe how giraffes and penguins protect their babies.


Coaching as a verb: the act of preparing for a new and more challenging endeavor

    • Receive assistance
    • Read
    • Talk with others
    • Rehearse
    • Plan

Coaching as an adjective: is one coachable?

    • Disposed to learn
    • Open to new ideas and suggestions
coaching rti
Coaching RtI

IDEIA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act: 2004) mandates the use of early intervening services for:

  • Identifying children who are members of a disaggregated subgroup with a specific learning disability whereby the discrepancy model could result in over identification.
evidence based
  • Evidence-based reading instruction takes place when decisions that affect the student are rendered with due weight accorded to all valid and relevant information.

Sackett, 2008

For most models, Tier 2 is core classroom

instruction. Tiers 2 and 3 are varying

levels of intervention.

Today, we will consider Considerations

and Challenges for Tiers 1-3.

reading practice by grade average 7 1 minutes
Reading Practice by Grade Average: 7.1 Minutes!

Average Daily Reading Practice

(Minutes per Student)


Regardless of RtI tier, the overarching goal of all instruction and intervention should be to increase daily reading practice.

  • Need to grow from minutes to hours for all students!

How do we turn negative Matthew Effect into a positive Matthew Effect?

  • Practice, practice, practice!
  • Turn intervention students into outliers!

Gladwell, 2008


10,000 hours = 4.3 hours of reading practice per school day for 13 years!

  • You need help!
  • With help from home (including summer) = 2.2 hours per day
tier 1
Tier 1

Tier 1 is core classroom instruction delivered every day for 45-150 minutes.

considerations in tier 1 core
Considerations in Tier 1 Core
  • More discussion about core reading practices
  • Recognition of need for balanced instruction at all grade levels
  • Recognition of need for balanced collections at all grade levels

Core classroom data is “at the table”

  • More staff development for classroom teachers
Challenges in Core


Tier 1 Without Tears

coaching questions
Coaching Questions
  • What are the strengths and needs of your current reading program?
    • instructional practices
    • time allocations
    • group size
    • group membership
Does every child receive reading instruction every day in a small-differentiated group delivered by the classroom teacher?
  • Is there consistency within a classroom and at a grade level in how language arts minutes are allocated across the subjects?
  • Has the classroom teacher been trained in a research-based collection of instructional methods?
tier 2
Tier 2

Tier 2 regular education intervention should be delivered in addition to, never in lieu of, core classroom instruction.

considerations in tier 2
Considerations in Tier 2
  • School-wide screening is being implemented
  • Intervention is being provided based on data
  • Intervention teams represent the disciplines that can effectively inform intervention

Challenges in Tier 2


Differentiating the Double Dose

attribute 1 assessment
Attribute 1: Assessment
  • Assessment tools should reflect authentic language and literacy activities as opposed to contrived texts or tasks generated specifically for assessment purposes.
  • Assessment tools that narrowly define literacy result in unbalanced and shallow interventions.
coaching questions29
Coaching Questions
  • Do your assessments reflect the multidimensional nature of language and literacy learning and the diversity among students being assessed?
coaching questions31
Coaching Questions
  • How many reading specialists are available to deliver intervention?
  • How does the master schedule need to be revised to ensure that the reading specialist can provide seamless services to each targeted grade level?
  • Is the reading specialist well versed in the instructional priorities of the core classroom program?

Attribute 3: Intensity

Intensity is the length and duration of the


coaching questions33
Coaching Questions
  • How much time is available in the school day to double dose struggling readers?
  • How long is each intervention period (20 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, etc.)?
  • Is there a plan to avoid “the roller coaster effect” (i.e. students moving in and out of intervention haphazardly based on limited data)?
  • Can Tier 2 and Tier 3 be delivered simultaneously based on immediate student need?
attribute 4 ratio
Attribute 4: Ratio

Ratio is the number of students

assigned to an interventionist during a

given period.

coaching questions35
Coaching Questions
  • Is the reading specialist:student ratio reduced during the intervention compared to the core reading instruction?
  • Can the ratio be reduced flexibly based on student need?
  • A Tier 2 group with five students meets for 30 minutes. The reading specialist notices that two students are struggling.
  • Conducts a half-book running record on each student (approximately 90 seconds).
  • Both students are at frustration level.
  • The reading specialist immediately provides an additional 15 minutes of Tier 3 intervention with the two students based on observation and data.
attribute 5 method
Attribute 5: Method

Method is the instructional approach

chosen for the intervention group.

coaching questions38
Coaching Questions
  • What does the classroom and multiple assessment data reveal about student needs?
  • What method(s) are indicated within a grade level intervention population?
  • Does the method selection consider all available data? In other words, is the intervention balanced?
  • Do the instructions scaffold delivery of the method?

Is there instructional congruence between the intervention and core classroom instruction?

  • Are the classroom teacher and interventionist “speaking” the same strategic language?
  • Are the assessments aligned?
attribute 6 transference
Attribute 6: Transference
  • Transference is the ability of a reader to transfer and apply newly acquired strategic behaviors to increasing more difficult literacy demands.
  • Transference must be taught.
  • Teaching transference requires communication and collaboration between the interventionist and core teacher(s).
The most “successful” interventions fail because struggling readers have difficulty transferring newly acquired strategies from text to text, classroom to classroom, and year to year. RtI teams need to discuss how transference will be taught -- with all instructional stakeholders speaking the same literacy language.
coaching questions42
Coaching Questions
  • Is transference being taught?
  • Is there explicit instruction in how newly acquired strategies can be applied to other literacy demands (science, social studies, math etc.)?
  • Who is teaching and monitoring transference?
tier 3
Tier 3

Tier 3 intensified regular education intervention should also be delivered in addition to, never in lieu of, core classroom instruction.

considerations in tier 3
Considerations in Tier 3
  • Better differential diagnosis
  • Dramatic increases in intensity; more one to one intervention

Challenges in Tier 3


Primum non nocere (First, do no harm)

The three ways “harm” appears possible has

been described by our teacher colleagues as:

(a) piling on with no plan, and/or

(b) commitment needed

(c) trust our judgment

piling on with no plan
Piling On With No Plan
  • Piling on with no plan is adding disconnected interventions (and interventionists) with no plan for instructional congruence.
  • This phenomenon occurs when assessments measure the isolated skills of reading.
commitment needed
Commitment Needed
  • As Joanne Yatvin (2007) so eloquently suggested, be a “catcher in the rye”. Plan Tier 3 intervention based on the very individual differences that are present in our most struggling students. Consider all the data, choose a comprehensive method (not methods) that is congruent with core classroom instruction, and make a commitment to the child (and the method) for months-- not days or weeks.
trust our judgment
Trust Our Judgment
  • Avoid the analogy that students are billiard balls on a pool table. Predictable trajectories are rarely seen in struggling readers, therefore, prescriptions will invariably fail. The missing ingredient in a describe-prescribe focus is professional decision-making.

At this point, RtI appears to be a Problem

Solving Model for instructional intervention

and/or a Protocol Approach for the

identification of SLD.

However, at present, there is insufficient

research evidence for many important


It is not known how to establish cut-points for identification and levels of intervention beyond early reading.
  • There is concern that the tiers of RtI will prevent appropriate differential diagnosis of SLD or other disabilities.

The consequences of wide implementation of RtI for SLD identification are not known.

  • Most important, the response of general education to RtI is not known. In fact, whether general education is even aware of the RtI debate is unknown.

USDOE, 2008

rti commission of the international reading association
RtI Commission of the International Reading Association
  • Suggests dialogue around response to instruction versus intervention.
  • Has produced guiding principles for systemic planning.
  • Can be found at
  • Seeks feedback
  • Email [email protected]