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Blog: Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

Targeted Instruction Through RTI

A Multi-Tiered System of Support at ATMS

Students at ATMS are discovering their true potential! As a result of the systematic direct instruction of RTI, or Response to Intervention, our students are acknowledging their growth areas and viewing these academic challenges as learning opportunities.  With the belief that every student can learn and achieve high standards, we use universal screeners to determine students’ greatest needs. Our teachers then collaborate to create small groups that target identified skill areas. Having this intervention time embedded into every student’s schedule three times per week, has proven to have a substantial impact on student learning. For example, in our most recent Grade 7 RTI cycle, 27 students participated in math specific interventions (including decimals, fractions, percent conversion, and probability) that took place over several weeks.  Based on the pre-post assessment to determine the impact of additional learning time by the end of this cycle, 41% of students demonstrated an increase in their ability in specific skills and 41% demonstrated a significant increase.  Interestingly, 4% demonstrated no change and 15% demonstrated a decrease in their understanding (see image below). While those increasing their ability is significant, we are also able to focus in on the students who seemed to have continued to struggle to learn their skills.  Classroom and Learning Support Services teachers are able to look closer at these students and determine next steps to support their learning.

But perhaps some of the most meaningful evidence of learning comes from the testimonials of students who confirm that they are building confidence and a growth mindset. Ramneek, a grade 8 student who had initially accepted that, “Math was not [her] thing,” feels much more empowered.  “With more attention in such a small group, we could go into more depth and really understand.  Now I know how to do Type 4 algebra problems. It makes sense to me. It feels good.”

From a teacher’s perspective, Julie Wilms shares the successes of this timely approach to supporting personalized learning. “We have seen students make significant gains in targeted reading skills, including finding the main idea and supporting details, identifying and using text features, asking questions and making inferences. We are increasing students' capacity to achieve at a proficient level. Students have expressed that they like the extra help from a teacher in a smaller group setting. Our students are growing in specific reading skills, and we have the evidence to show that, “Hey, they're really getting it!” The smaller groups are made possible by structuring the RTI blocks by grade so that we can include the expertise from our LSS and ELL department staff as well.

As a comprehensive multi-tiered system of support, RTI is really starting to take shape in our building. Intervention specialists are on the rise at ATMS and our students are demonstrating and feeling the benefits.

JENNIFER BENNATO
Vice-Principal, Abbotsford Traditional Middle School