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Response to Intervention

My Asst Principal discipline motto:
You mess with the bull, you get the horns! - Special thanks to Tim Fulcher for his addition to my page.

Currently, I am the Assistant Principal at Waldon Middle School in Lake Orion, where we're deep into our Response to Intervention implementation process. As we get further and further along, we have so many great ideas and structures in place to help us, but find ourselves lacking in a key area, interventions. We have universal screenings, common planning time, established policies and forms to help teachers identify students who are struggling, and an outstanding staff who does a fantastic job of delivering Tier-1, whole class instruction. Where we struggle is interventions. Once we know there is a problem, we have a small assortment of solutions. It's my hope this project will help me identify more ways I can help teachers and struggling students.

Progress Monitoring Tools

We have found ourselves recently having a lot more conversations about data. The following document was developed as a "starting point" to identify some points and common terms so our dialog can improve.

The University of Kansas Department of Special Education developed a task log that can be used to monitor accomodations.

Our school psychologist recently developed this behavior chart to monitor a student.

A teacher at Waldon worked this form up to monitor students enrolled in a remedial reading class working with the Fast ForWord program.

A member of our district RTI team spent some time developing a general template for progress monitoring.

As part of our growing conversation about the "behavior side" of the RTI pyramid, I developed the following document.


Check out "Intervention Central" a website developed by Jim Wright, a school psychologist/administrator from New York. It is a searchable database for a to assist students facing a variety of challenges.

The National Center on Response to Intervention has some helpful videos and information on progress monitoring, which is key once interventions are in place. Their website has a helpful "ask the expert" section, and offers a state by state perspective.

East Carolina University has a collection of intervention (academic and behavioral) ideas at their Evidence Based Intervention network .

The Florida Center for Reading Research has compiled reports on a number of programs used to support students who struggle with reading. Particularly helpful was the level identification, letting me know which was most appropriate for middle school. is a website dedicated to teacher professional development. It is broken down by content area and level, and has videos and articles about different approaches and instructional strategies.

West Virginia's Department of Educationhas a website dedicated to RTI. They offer mulitple interventions and quite a few resources.


An article by Caltha Crowe in the February 2010 issue of Educational Leadership focused on what I consider the single greatest intervention for academics or behavior a school can offer, building relationships with students.

The October 2007 issue of Educational Leadership focuses on interventions at every age. Robert Slavin, Anne Chamberlain, and Cecelia Daniels write an article about reading support for middle school students , referring to this period as the "last chance" for struggling students to improve student literacy. They argue for more time focused on reading instruction and direct teaching about metacognition. Moreover, they favor cooperative learning, where students work together to discuss reading strategies via the use of graphic organizers and classroom strategies such as "think-pair-share."

This article from the National Center on Learning Disabilities explores the benefits of progress monitoring. A section I found particularly helpful was the analysis of high quality systems.

Pyramid Response to Intervention: RTI, Professional Learning Communities, and How to Respond When Kids don't Learn.

My "Soap Box" rants/Conclusion:

Our district has an RTI "team" composed of 9 educators who are working to assist with implementation of universal screenings and serve as experts that staff can go to with questions. A good friend, and great educator, John Blackstock, offers a famous quote worth consideration: "Before students will care what you know, they must know that you care." His argument, that relationships are the best intervention we can offer, is one I subscribe to. I'd go a step farther to suggest that before any remedial program can be effective, we have to build trust with a student so they'll fully accept our assistance. Interventions won't work without trust.

As I type this, I'm in the midst of another day with members of the "Principal's homework club." I tutor a group of at-risk kids every day from 2:30 until 3:15. I know I'm putting good ideas into practice (remediation, organization work, reteaching) but don't know enough about progress monitoring. I don't seem to have an effective, efficient way to track how this work is paying off. The person who invents that will make a fortune.

This work/research has led me to a couple of conclusions. First, relationships with students are critical. Every child must have at least 1 critical adult in their school that they can go to. Just as vital is progress monitoring. The perfect intervention has yet to be invented, (I'm working on it in hopes I can crack the code and retire) because issues, much like students, are individuals. Knowing what is working and what is not best arms us to best assist every child, every day.