School officials are pushing to implement the Response to Intervention program at two more Havre schools, citing success at its first location.
At the Havre Public Schools Board of Trustees meeting 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, Leland Stocker, director of education for Havre public schools, presented to the board the prospect of spreading the Response to Intervention program from Sunnyside Intermediate School to Highland Park Early Primary School and Lincoln-McKinley Primary School.
“We are seeing that (this program)is affecting students in a positive fashion,” Stocker said about the RTI program at Sunnyside. “We’re diagnosing their learning needs and seeing signs of positive growth in their lives.”
Stocker worked for the elementary school in Gardiner for nine years. He said the program has taken special education completely out of the school.
“So, it’s working there,” he said.
Stocker said he believes that if a school’s normal curriculum is not working for a student, the school should make changes to hone in on that student’s specific learning struggles and attempt to remedy them.
“The goal of the program is to put special education out of business,” Stocker said at the board meeting.
According to RTI’s website, their program is “a multi-tier approach to the early identification and support of students with learning and behavior needs.”
Under the RTI program, all children would be screened in the general education classroom. Struggling learners would be “provided with interventions at increasing levels of intensity to accelerate their rate of learning,” the website says.
The first tier of the three-tier program is: high-quality classroom instruction, screening and group interventions.
Tier one is designed to decide whether the student’s struggles with academia are due to inadequate instruction. The students are screened periodically to “establish an academic and behavioral baseline and to identify struggling learners who need additional support.” Students who are identified as being “at risk” by the screenings are given additional instruction during their school day. Tier one does not generally exceed eight weeks. If students show significant signs of progress, they are returned to their normal classroom routine. If they do not make progress, they move to tier two.
In tier two, students are given more intensive instruction based on what they’re struggling with. The students are put into small groups for these “interventions” in addition to their normal curriculum. This step takes longer than the first but does not generally exceed a grading period. If a student shows little progress in tier two, personnel must decide whether or not to put them in tier three.
Tier three consists of interventions which are individually designed for each student to target the particular student’s struggles. If the student does not progress with these individualized instructions, they are referred for an evaluation and, using this, personnel decide if they’re eligible for special education services.
Concerns about more assessments and tests given to students were raised by the board. Stocker said the number of assessments given to the students would be minimal. Stocker assured them by saying, “The saying is ‘the farmer who spends more time weighing his cows has less time to raise them.’ We want to see our student grow.”
Stocker said that he and others who are pushing for the program to be fully implemented at Lincoln- McKinley and Highland Park are waiting for feedback from the Office of Public Instruction before they can move on.