Accountability in the Classroom: Understanding Response to Intervention Programs
Should we hold our school systems accountable for the learning success of all our students? Is the accountability different for students with learning disabilities? According to the law the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires schools to assess and evaluate students from the ages of 3 to 21 to diagnose their disability types and the levels of those disabilities, in order to provide the appropriate support. This gives the school a good deal of accountability for early recognition of students with learning challenges and responsibility for helping them to succeed. One method recommended by this legislation is the formation of a response to intervention (RTI) program.
Classroom teachers have a greater role in both identification and implementation in RTI programs, which are used for all students in school, not only those with disabilities. In many instances, it is far more effective for the teacher to recognize and respond to students’ early roadblocks. Under the RTI model, it is often a teacher who notices a problem with student progress and initiates the process. Teachers then implement interventions in a series of tiers. A Tier I intervention is a simple change, but the teacher documents the adjustment and any other action taken, and monitors the student’s progress from that point forward, to see if the adjustment is effective. If the Tier I strategies are ineffective, it may be time for Tier II, which involves the formation of a student support team (SST).
The SST includes classroom teachers, a counselor, special education teachers, and administrators who meet with the student and his or her parents to develop a list of interventions.
The SST coordinates an individualized education program (IEP) to accommodate the student’s weaknesses. If Tier II strategies have no impact—which is generally rapidly evident, provided teachers are conducting adequate monitoring—students may require special services beyond the Tier III level. Sometimes this involves removal from the general education classroom for more intense individual instruction, such as small-group classes or alternative assessment. Often the IEP for a student with learning disabilities requires placement in the general education classroom, with modifications such as extended time for tests and quizzes, a set of teacher notes, preferential seating, permission to voice-record the lecture or the presence of a paraprofessional or team teacher (special education teacher) co-teaching in the regular classroom.
If your child or student has a learning disability and is in need of additional assistance, guardians contact your school systems for information about intervention programs and Educators research proper strategies for creating IEPs for your students with learning disabilities.