Rti as a model for reading improvement a focus on students learning english
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RtI as a Model for Reading Improvement: A Focus on Students Learning English. Rollanda O’Connor University of California at Riverside. A “Fact” that began a model:.

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Rti as a model for reading improvement a focus on students learning english

RtI as a Model for Reading Improvement: A Focus on Students Learning English

Rollanda O’Connor

University of California at Riverside

A fact that began a model

A “Fact” that began a model:

Phonemic awareness is more strongly associated with reading achievement at the end of first grade than IQ, vocabulary, or SES of the family.

  • Share, Jorm, et al (1984; 1986)

  • Juel (1988)

  • O’Connor & Jenkins (1999)

The conundrum

The Conundrum

Becoming “phonemically aware” is most useful prior to Grade 2

Most students with LD in reading (RD) aren’t identified until after Grade 2

Does phonemic awareness predict rd

Does phonemic awareness predict RD?


But PA “catches” 20-40% of a kindergarten population

Notions of catch and release

Notions of Catch and Release

  • A nimble instructional model that includes instruction AND learning

  • Catch & Release (Jenkins & O’Connor, 2002)

    • Consider early intervention interfaced with measurement of progress

    • Keep intervention flexible to release children mistakenly caught in the RD net

Rti a general education plan

RTI = A General Education Plan

  • Practitioners deliver good instruction

    • Screen students for reading difficulty

    • Identify students who perform poorly

    • Problem solve:

      • What is the problem?

      • What do we do about it?

  • What we do about it = Tier 2

  • Are students responding to the intervention?

Rti a layered model

RTI: A Layered Model

  • Professional Development to improve teaching

  • Measurement of children (“Gating”)

  • Feedback to teachers on children’s progress

  • Additional intervention for children who need it

  • Flexible movement across groups and conditions

    O’Connor (2000)

Which outcomes are important

Which Outcomes are Important?

  • Silent reading comprehension by Gr 3

  • Reading fluently by Gr 2

  • Decoding words by the end of Gr 1

  • Understanding the alphabetic principle by the end of K

Linking assessment to instruction

Linking Assessment to Instruction

  • Alphabetic principle:

    • Segmenting sounds in short words

    • Matching sounds to alphabet letters

  • Reading words

    • Blending letter sounds

    • Letter combinations

    • Sight words

  • Fluency and comprehension

    • Oral reading rate and prosody, and ???? [need better measures of vocabulary and comprehension]

K 1 studies in rti

K-1 Studies in RTI

  • Small groups unrelated to general class instruction:

    • Vellutino et al., 1996; Torgesen et al., 1999; McMaster, Fuchs et al., 2005

  • Small groups interfaced with general class instruction

    • K-1 Studies with Teachers as Tier 1:

      • O’Connor, 2000; 2005

      • Blachman et al., 2004

      • Simmons, Coyne, Kame’enui, 2004

K 2 studies in rti

K-2 Studies in RTI

  • Kamps & Greenwood, 2004

  • Vaughn et al., 2004

  • Tilly, 2003 (Iowa evaluation)

  • O’Connor et al. (2011)

K 3 studies in rti

K-3 Studies in RTI

  • O’Connor et al., 2005

  • Simmons et al., 2009

  • O’Connor et al., current research

Areas of agreement across studies

Areas of Agreement Across Studies

  • Classroom instruction must be adequate

  • Use measures for catch & release

  • Intervention available regardless of student “category”

A few statistics

A Few Statistics:

30% of 4th grade native English speakers score < Basic

71% of 4th grade ELL score < Basic (NAEP, 2007)

24% of all students in CA are ELL

20-50% of students in Riverside County schools are ELL

Including english language learners in rti

Including English Language Learners in RtI

  • The problem with identifying risk for RD (Klingner et al., 2006):

    • Is it reading risk?

    • Is it language risk?

  • Does it matter?

    • Is our RtI system nimble?

What about students who are ell

What about Students Who Are ELL?

  • ELL learn during small group reading instruction in English:

    • Lesaux & Siegel (2003)

    • Linan-Thompson et al. (2006)

    • Lovett et al. (2008)

    • Solari & Gerber (2008)

    • O’Connor et al. (2010)

  • However--ELL responsiveness was not analyzed in early studies of RtI

Our current studies of rti for ell

Our Current Studies of RtI for ELL

  • Compare response to intervention between ELL and native English speakers in Grades K-3 on:

    • Overall RtI effects on reading and language development

    • Kindergarten vs. Grade 1 start

    • Identification for Tier 2 and for special education

Moving from research to practice

Moving from Research to Practice

  • Include the entire K-3 sample

    • Prior researchers identified students in K-1 only

    • Did not consider late-emerging RD (Catts et al., 2010; 2012)

    • Late-emerging RD are more prevalent among ELL (Kieffer, 2010)

Measures for all children gating

Measures for All Children: Gating

September, January, May:

  • K: Segmenting, letter names, letter sounds

  • Gr 1: Word identification, reading rate in January, comprehension in May

  • Gr 2-3: Word identification, rate, & comprehension

Catch and release for tier 2

Catch and Release for Tier 2

Targets for tier 2 intervention

Targets for Tier 2 Intervention

  • Kindergarten

    • Alphabetic principle

    • Conversation & sentence expansion

  • First Grade

    • Phonics and decoding words

    • Conversation & restatements

  • Second grade

    • Affixes and reading fluently

    • Conversation & justifications

      • Why do you think that…?

  • Third grade

    • Multisyllable words and morphemes

    • Justifications and evidence in text

      • Show me where….

Interventions in kindergarten

Interventions in Kindergarten

  • Segmenting

  • Blending

  • Letter Sounds

  • The alphabetic principle

  • [and meanings of words]

Stretched blending

Stretched Blending

Teaching letter sounds

Teaching Letter Sounds

  • Avoid alphabetical order (Carnine et al., 1998)

  • Use cumulative introduction

  • Teach short vowels in kindergarten

  • Start teaching letter sounds as soon as possible

  • Integrate letter sounds with phonological awareness activities (Ball & Blachman, 1991; O’Connor et al., 1995)

Ex segment to spell o connor et al 2005

Ex: Segment to Spell (O’Connor et al., 2005)

a m s t i f

Interventions in first grade

Interventions in First Grade

  • Segment to Spell (to ensure the alphabetic principle)

  • Phonics

  • High frequency words

  • [and meanings of words]

Patterns in the 100 most common words

Patterns in the 100 Most Common Words

  • th: that, than, this

  • or: for, or, more

  • ch: much, [which]

  • wh: when, which, what

  • ee: see, three

  • al: all, call, also

  • ou: out, around

  • er: her, after

  • ar: are, part

Interventions in second grade

Interventions in Second Grade

  • Common letter patterns & affixes

  • Fluency

  • Conversation & justifications

    • Why do you think that…?

Most common affixes

Most Common Affixes

  • Inflected endings: -ed, -ing, -s, -es

  • Prefixes

    • Un-, re-, in-, dis- account for 58% of words with prefixes (White et al., 1989)

  • Suffixes

    • -ly, -er/or, -sion/tion, -ible/able, -al, -y, -ness, -less

Why bother building reading rate

Why Bother Building Reading Rate?

  • One piece of the comprehension puzzle

  • Minimum fluency requirements (O’Connor et al., 2007, 2009, 2010)

  • Silent reading is NOT effective in improving fluency (NRP, 2000)

  • Building rate requires frequent, long-term practice

  • Improving rate improves comprehension

2 methods of partner reading

2 Methods of Partner Reading

  • Modeled reading (PALS)

    • Each student reads in 5 minute intervals

    • Strongest partner reads first

    • Allows a model for the poorer reader

  • Sentence-by-sentence (CWPT)

    • Partners take turns reading sentence by sentence

    • Reread with other student starting first

    • Encourages attention and error correction

Interventions in third grade

Interventions in Third Grade

  • Morphemes

  • BEST

  • Rules for combining morphemes

  • Comprehension strategies

  • [and meanings of words]



  • The meaningful parts of words

    • Improves decoding

    • Improves with spelling

    • Reinforces word meanings

Teaching morphemes

Teaching Morphemes…

(The meaningful parts of words)

  • “not”

    • Un, dis, in, im (disloyal, unaware, invisible, imperfect)

  • “excess”

    • Out, over, super (outlive, overflow, superhuman)

  • “number”

    • Uni, mono, bi, semi (uniform, monofilament, bicolor, semiarid)

  • “in the direction of”

    • Ward (skyward, northward)

  • “full of”

    • Ful (merciful, beautiful)

English spanish cognates from morphemes

English/Spanish Cognates from Morphemes

  • Google for lists

  • Praise student use of cognates

    • Adult/adulto

    • Atmosphere/atmosfera

    • Chimpanzee/chimpancé

    • Enter/entrar

    • Intelligence/inteligencia

Inter means between

Inter-- means between

  • What does inter-- mean?

  • So what does interstate mean?

  • What’s a word for a highway between states?

  • What would interperson mean?

  • So what are interpersonal skills?

Best for multisyllable words

BEST for Multisyllable Words

  • Break apart

  • Examine the stem

  • Say the parts

  • Try the whole thing

Best examples

BEST Examples




Changes in 3rd grade reading

Changes in 3rd Grade Reading

Specific questions for ell v eo

Specific Questions for ELL v. EO

  • Targeted vs. Packaged Tier 2 Instruction

  • Kindergarten vs. 1st Grade start

  • Response to intervention across 3 years

Differentiating instruction gr 2 3

Differentiating Instruction, Gr 2-3

  • Differentiation between skills + fluency, and only fluency

  • Children with slow rate but high skills were not identified for SpEd by the end of Gr 3

    • Rate is less important for predicting RD for ELL

    • Consider skills with and without speeded tasks

The cost of waiting

The cost of waiting…

Kindergarten vs first grade initial treatment the cost of waiting

Kindergarten vs. First Grade Initial Treatment… the cost of waiting

Gr 2 rti vs historical control

Same 5 schools

Same teachers

Same reading curriculum

Gr 2 RtI vs. Historical Control

Grade 2 outcomes ell eo at risk

Grade 2 Outcomes (ELL + EO at risk)

Ell vs eo outcomes in grade 2

ELL vs. EO Outcomes in Grade 2

Year 3 outcomes timing of special ed identification by initial treatment

Year 3 Outcomes: Timing of Special Ed. Identification by Initial Treatment



  • Students strong in K-1 were identified in later grades [with a higher % of ELL identified late]

  • Including ELL in RtI reduced risk

  • Including ELL improved comprehension

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