Students whose academic skills fall below benchmark and put them at risk compared to their peers on the screening measures should be considered for placement in an intervention in addition to the core program.
Despite our best efforts to provide effective core instruction to all students, some students who are at-risk for academic difficulties will require more support than a student who is on-track for success. Students whose academic skills fall below benchmark and put them at risk compared to their peers on the screening measures should be considered for placement in an intervention in addition to the core program. The Decision Rules for placement are part of the district’s Reading Protocol as are the list of the research-based interventions that are available to the school and the designated amount of time required for the intervention.
Intervention support for these at-risk students should include the following features:
- Have a strong evidence-base for its effectiveness.
- Be provided in addition to your core/Tier 1 supports that all students receive. For example, reading interventions should be provided in addition to the 90 minutes of core reading.
- Targeted and matched to the specific skills that an at-risk or struggling student lacks. For example, reading interventions should focus on one or more of the Big 5 of Reading: Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Oral Reading Fluency, Vocabulary, & Comprehension.
- Implemented with fidelity, or in the way in which it was designed to be delivered.
- Interventions should also be chosen from a district-developed standard reading protocol. A Standard Reading Protocol provides a clear description of what instruction/intervention looks like across the Tiers of your RTI system. This includes an outline, for each Tier, of programs/intervention for common student needs, recommended group sizes for intervention groups, and the duration that interventions should be provided each day.
Standard Reading Protocol
When used consistently, a Standard Reading Protocol provides the following benefits:
- Interventions can be provided with a high degree of fidelity if staff is trained adequately
- Provides clear communication to all staff around what is and what is not an “intervention”
- Students in need of intervention can receive immediate access to the intervention
- Ensures consistency in decision making for students that may have a Specific Learning Disability
Features of Effective Interventions
Interventions are Evidence-Based
According to the National Center for Intensive Interventions, “An evidence-based intervention is an intervention for which data from scientific, rigorous research studies have demonstrated (or empirically validated) the efficacy of the intervention. Applying findings from experimental studies, single-case studies, or strong quasi-experimental studies, an evidence-based intervention improves student learning beyond what is expected without that intervention.”
Utilizing evidence-based interventions ensures a much higher likelihood of student success as compared to a non-evidence-based intervention. Interventions chosen to be a part of your RTI system should be those that have rigorous evidence supporting their effectiveness, rather than programs that have shown limited or no evidence around effectiveness in remediating student skill deficits.
The following resources can be used to help select evidence-based interventions to add to your protocol and to evaluate the evidence-base for intervention programs you are currently utilizing:
- IRIS Module: Evidence-Based Practices (Part 1): Identifying and Selecting a Practice or Program
- National Center for Intensive Interventions (Academic Interventions Tools Chart)
- What Works Clearinghouse (Find What Works)
Implemented In Addition to a Strong Core
Students who are at-risk for reading difficulties require more support than a student who is on-track for being a proficient reader. This support should be provided in addition to the 90 minutes of core reading instruction. This additional support allows for targeted instruction that is more explicit and systematic, provided in a smaller group size, and matched to a specific area of need (e.g. in reading we could target Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Oral Reading Fluency, Vocabulary, or Comprehension). There is a lack of evidence of effectiveness of interventions that supplant core instruction, rather than the recommendation to supplement the core with additional intervention time.
Interventions are recommended to contain the following components:
Time of Instruction:
- Typically 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week for 1st – 5th grades for strategic interventions and 45 minutes or more per day, 5 days a week for intensive interventions.
- Research-based published interventions delivered with fidelity
- Active engagement and effective instructional strategies are used throughout instruction
Interventions are Targeted and Matched
Interventions are more effective when they are targeted and matched to the specific needs of the student. Rather than providing a comprehensive intervention that covers a broad array of skills, interventions are designed to fill specific gaps that a student might have. In this way, it’s important that we are able to diagnostically identify those gaps and provide interventions that target those gaps.
- Matching Intervention to Student Need (using DIBELS Next data) - Power Point Presentation
- Matching Intervention to Student Need (using easyCBM data) - Power Point Presentation
Implemented with Fidelity
Fidelity of implementation is the delivery of instruction in the way in which it was designed to be delivered (Gresham, MacMillan, Boebe-Frankenberger, & Bocian, 2000). Fidelity of intervention implementation is important for several reasons. First and foremost, it ensures that students are receiving the most high quality intervention programming. Evidence-based interventions are often complex, and without ongoing fidelity checks, coupled with supportive feedback, it is difficult to implement these programs effectively and consistently. Additionally, for valid disability determination to occur, a diagnostic team needs to be able to determine that a student has received appropriate instruction in the general education classroom. Checking fidelity of intervention implementation is one way to accomplish this.
The first step in ensuring fidelity is to ensure that interventionists receive the appropriate training and support. This includes initial training in how the program is designed and delivered, in addition to ongoing support through coaching, observational feedback, or other professional development opportunities.
The following resources can be used to help ensure interventionists receive ongoing support in implementing intervention programs with a high degree of fidelity:
- Sample PD plan for training staff - coming soon
- National Center for Direct Instruction Videos
Other training ideas include:
- Regular coaching from a literacy specialist
- Structured peer observation with feedback
- Partnering with a neighboring school district to obtain training
- Create online training videos (e.g., youtube, vimeo, etc.) that interventionists can review periodically
Once staff has received appropriate training, the following resources can be used to help develop a system for ensuring fidelity of interventions:
- NRCLD Fidelity of Implementation Chapter
- Q&A with Christina M. Marco-Files on fidelity
- RTI Action Network Sample Fidelity Checklists