Saturday, October 22, 2011

Applying the Roadmap to Pre-K RTI

This post includes a summary of the "Roadmap to Pre-K RTI: Applying Response to Intervention in Preschool Settings," as well as my thoughts on applying the ideas addressed in this article to my current preschool field placement classroom.

The article begins by describing preschool RTI and its functions. In preschool, RTI can be used to stop early delays from later becoming learning disabilities (Coleman, Roth, & West, 2009). RTI uses three tiers of instruction to meet the needs of all students in the best way possible for each individual. The first tier uses a curriculum proven with evidence to be effective; the second tier uses more focused and intense instruction for students who are identified to be behind their peers in learning; the third tier uses even more intense intervention for students who are still having trouble (Coleman, Roth, & West, 2009). The research on the use of RTI is still in its primary stages, but the rest of this report details how it can be implemented. The basic framework of RTI fits well with many early childhood care practices, but some aspects of RTI must be slightly adapted to be developmentally-appropriate for younger children. Pre-K RTI should especially focus on using positive language and applying practices in a manner that fits with early childhood beliefs (Coleman, Roth, & West, 2009).

The major components of Pre-K RTI include:
-screening children for developmental delays
-assessing children’s strengths and challenges in all learning areas
-monitoring progress to track children’s improvement or lack thereof
-using curriculum and instruction that are appropriate for young children
-putting practices in place in the way intended
-using collaboration between teachers, other professionals, and parents/families
-involving parents and families in every step (Coleman, Roth, & West, 2009)

The article provides five examples of RTI implementation in pre-kindergarten settings. The first example, Recognition and Response (R&R), is a tiered framework designed for preschool use. It includes recognition - screening of all children to identify difficulties, response - instructional interventions for those children who are struggling, and collaborative problem-solving among teachers, parents, and professionals to assess the child’s progress and plan for the next steps (Coleman, Roth, & West, 2009). R&R could be a useful tool for Dual-Language Learners (DLLs). The second example, The Literacy Partnership, is a tiered RTI model used to language difficulties in all children. The partnership assesses and addresses vocabulary and phonological awareness and provides intense support to those children who need it (Coleman, Roth, & West, 2009). The third program, Center for Response to Intervention in Early Childhood (CRTIEC), with the goal of having more pre-k children be kindergarten-ready, especially in language and early literacy abilities. CRTIEC also has the goal of promoting their information and methods throughout the country and creating a national network of early childhood professionals. The fourth example, Rockford Early Childhood Program, is working on transitioning RTI into their preschools, especially focusing on both academic and social-emotional learning needs. The fifth example, the Colorado State Department of Education, uses a three-tiered model of Pre-K RTI and has used RTI in grades K-12 for years. They emphasize family involvement and are working on using RTI for behavioral supports as well as academic (Coleman, Roth, & West, 2009).

The article concludes by listing some recommendations from the National Center for Learning Disabilities. These suggestions include: remaining flexible to program needs and practices, supporting professional development to better prepare educators for use of RTI, promoting universal screening of all children, and authorizing funding for Pre-K RTI ( (Coleman, Roth, & West, 2009).

Following are five RTI principles/methods/procedures/activities that I feel could be implemented in my field experience classroom:

-I feel that my Head Start classroom should incorporate instruction and assessment of alphabetic principle, because currently there are four-year-old students who do not know more than one or two letters. Although the children write their names each day, some of the children who are able to write all the letters in their names do not know the names of those letters. The teachers could implement this instruction by pointing out letters in the environment or assigning a “letter of the day” until the whole alphabet has been addressed. They also need to assess individuals’ understanding in order to see what needs to be emphasized; this could be done with flashcards.

-Parent and family involvement seems like a crucial part of RTI, especially in preschool. Several of the examples programs in the article emphasized the importance of parent involvement for the success of RTI. Although parents are required to volunteer for a certain number of hours and there is information about the children available to parents, I think there should be a more proactive method of involving parents in their children’s school achievements. This might be accomplished by having parent meetings about early literacy development to educate parents about how their child will learn at school, and how families can extend this learning at home. Also, parents should be provided specific, visual data on their children’s progress at least bi-monthly.

-The Recognition and Response model and the Literacy Partnership describe collaborative problem-solving approaches to professional development. I am not sure exactly how often teachers meet with other professionals to monitor progress of students, but I feel that this should be done frequently. Meetings should be held between teachers, assistants, literacy specialists, and therapists or other professionals at least weekly. This focus on the needs of all and individual children would help all the professionals who interact with the children in my Head Start class be on the same page with each child’s current needs.

-I feel that my Head Start classroom would benefit from CBM testing focusing on alphabetic principle and phonemic awareness. These are skills that I do not see being explicitly taught or encouraged, and I think CBM assessments would give the teachers an idea of where students are in their learning of these concepts. This would allow the teachers to design activities to more specifically meet the needs of the children in these areas because they are very important skills to develop in preparation for kindergarten. Also, we know that students who do not acquire these basic early skills are at more risk for learning disabilities later in elementary school, so I think the teachers should be more directly concerned with helping these children develop necessary skills for reading.

-The Rockford Early Childhood Program “addresses social-emotional aspects of learning” in addition to academics (Coleman, Roth, & West, 2009). I think this would be extremely beneficial in my field experience classroom because there are several children who have difficulty with self-regulation, especially when they are angry. Using teams of professionals as support systems for planning to address these challenges would help the teachers implement consistent, successful classroom management strategies. Once this is in place, I think the classroom could be far more successful in academic instruction and activities.

Work Cited
Coleman, M. R., Roth, R. P., & West, T. (2009). Roadmap to Pre-K RTI: Applying Response to Intervention in Preschool Settings. National Center for Learning Disabilities, Inc.

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