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Transformative Literacy: Examining the State of RTI RTI at the school level: Exploration of knowledge, practice and collaboration . Literacy Research Association Dallas, TX December 4, 2013. Researchers. Julie W. Ankrum, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown

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Transformative Literacy: Examining the State of RTIRTI at the school level: Exploration of knowledge, practice and collaboration

Literacy Research Association

Dallas, TX

December 4, 2013

  • Julie W. Ankrum, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown
  • Linda Carr, Independent Consultant, Albany, NewYork
  • Kathy Champeau, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • Ingrid Enniss, Oakwood University
  • Lois Haid, Barry University
  • Jennifer Jones, Radford University
  • B. P. Laster, Towson University
  • Barbara A. Marinak, Mount St. Mary’s University
  • Nancy Masztal, Barry University
  • Valerie J. Robnolt, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Alice F. Snyder, Kennesaw State University
  • Joyce Warner, Barry University
  • Jodi G. Welsch, Frostburg State University
  • Rebekah Williams, Kennesaw State University
rationale purpose
  • 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendment (IDEAA): Response to Intervention (RTI) as a way of
    • providing differentiated and responsive instruction for every child
    • as an alternative identification pathway for special education identification.  
  • Schools in various stages of RTI implementation: we captured snapshots of what is occurring across seven schools in five states.
  • Literacy researchers need to help guide the implementation of RTI so that the research on literacy acquisition and literacy development for the 21st Century--including critical literacy--is integrated into the practice of school-based educators.
Guiding principles for Educators from the IRA Commission on RTI RTI mav involve a range of professionals;however, the greater the literacy difficulty, the greater the need for expertise in literacy teaching and learning.”1) core instruction2) responsive & differentiated instruction3) assessment4) collaboration5) systemic & comprehensive6) professional expertise
  • Identical methodology across seven sites in five states:
    • 2 sites in PA and VA
    • 1 site in MD, WI and GA
  • Each researcher
    • secured IRB approval.
    • Located a school that would be open to having structured interviews of—at a minimum—one general educator and one special educator; if possible, also administrator, reading specialist, SLP, ELL teacher and other specialists
    • conducted structured, open-ended interviews to determine the range of perspectives on the topic of RTI.  

Data Collection:

  • Interviews of willing personnel at the sites.
  • Interviews were recorded and transcribed
  • Transcriptions were subject to member checking with the participants.
  • Interview protocol consisted of 15 open-ended questions centered around four main sub-topics:
    • understanding of RTI
    • educators’ responsibilities for RTI
    • collaboration
    • professional learning (professional development/support)
data analysis
Data Analysis
  • Coded & analyzed all interview data in three phases using the constant comparative method (Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Strauss & Corbin, 1990).
  • Each member of the research team who conducted interviews
    • transcribed the interviews verbatim. and
    • coded the interview using the common analysis protocol.
  • Used shared website to access all 22 (23) transcripts plus summary documents for cross-case analysis.
data analysis1
Data Analysis
  • Phase #1:All researchers independently coded the same transcripts to ensure validity and then conducted a cross-case analysis following the common analysis protocol.  Any discrepancies were mediated.
  • Identified instances within all transcripts (beyond just the obvious questions asked) for
    • 1.) understanding of RTI
    • 2.) educators’ responsibilities for RTI
    • 3.) collaboration
    • 4.) professional learning (professional development/support).
  • Phase #2: Re-coded for emerging themes and had small group/theme team meetings.
    • Assessment
    • Systematic & comprehensive (not present)  
  • Phase #3:Whole group meetings to discuss all individual themes (including emerging themes) and overlap or links among the themes.
findings educators understanding of rti
Findings: Educators’ understanding of RTI

• Many participants (11) did not know about the origins of RTI

• RTI related to IDEA (6)

“Student Support Team” process (2) NCLB (1)

“…came to be from wanting to meet the needs of all students and when you are having kids not meeting benchmarks.” - Special educator, Wisconsin

• Majority of participants (21) were not aware of IRA’s involvement in clarifying RTI’s role

findings educators understanding of rti1
Findings: Educators’ understanding of RTI

1. Meeting students needs

• “…making sure that you are responding to things that they may need sooner rather than later.”–Classroom teacher, Southwest Virginia

2. Tiers/Effective instruction

• “…we are trying to focus on …helping classroom teachers deliver really effective Tier 1 instruction.”– Special educator, Central Pennsylvania

3. Other themes emerged

  • Using data and assessments

“It is a way for us to monitor their progress,” - Classroom teacher, Northern Virginia

  • Issues related to LD identification
findings educators responsibilities for rti
Findings: Educators’ responsibilities for RTI

Classroom Teachers/Educators

  • Almost all perceived responsibility for Tier I intervention, to be “their first line of intervention…using differentiated instruction”


  • Believed their primary role in RTI was to provide logistical support by having human resources and instructional resources in place

Special Educators

  • Most Special Educators claimed they were not involved until Tier 3 or Tier 4 where they become part of the RTI team and then participate in data collection; “I do co-teach a full class…sit in the meeting…”

Support Personnel

  • Reading Specialists and interventionists (speech pathologists, academic coaches, etc.) see their roles as collaborators with and supporters of classroom teachers at Tier-I, Tier-II, and Tier-III (may or may not be involved at Tier-III, depending on district/state)
findings about educators collaboration related to rti
Findings about educators’ collaboration related to RTI

Intentional collaboration: evidence of intentional thought and planning prior to and after the meeting.

  • “We had a certain part of our grade level meeting just dedicated to RTI, kids that are on the radar, and what should be trying, what’s working and what is not, giving suggestions.”

– Classroom Teacher, Southwest VA

Incidental collaboration: spontaneous incidences of the interviewee engaging with one or more knowledgeable person for assistance with a particular problem.

  • “The open dialogue, I could walk into an office anytime, they know exactly what’s going on [and say] ‘hey, this isn’t working, what can we do?’” – Classroom Teacher, WI

Mandated collaboration appeared to be mandated attendance at RTI meetings. There was no evidence of an intentional vision for what should occur at the meetings.

  • “I attend the majority of the meetings so that I can clarify goals. No collaboration.”

--Principal, PA

findings e ducators professional learning related to rti
Findings: Educators’ professional learning related to RTI
  • Different types of PD mostly at the district level:
  • None Procedural Info RTI Components
                • (e.g. forms) Differentiation; Assessment systems or collection; No BIG Picture of RTI; No change in how to intervene or address the needs of ALL children.
  • In many cases, there is one person with lots of wisdom in the building (“the RTI Expert”), who gets trained outside the building and in some cases pursues her/his own professional learning on RTI.
  • PD, in general, was lacking across all sites.
conclusions implications
Conclusions & Implications
  • Language varies
  • Perceptions vary
  • Practices vary
  • Literacy researchers/ educators should take an active role in aligning the language, perceptions, & practices of RTI with the six principles of RTI as espoused by IRA.
  • Specific emerging themes give guidance to other school administrators, educators and policy makers who are implementing RTI.
    • More systematic professional learning about RTI is needed in most schools.
    • Implementing RTI over multiple years builds faculty knowledge, understanding and collaboration.
    • Need to focus on RTI that is systemic and comprehensive withinin a school
    • In many states, differentiated instructionin relation to CCSS is a crucial need.