Student intervention worksPublished 5:45pm Friday, March 2, 2012
BUCHANAN — A new intervention program designed to fill in student learning gaps is already producing results at two Buchanan elementary schools.
Buchanan literacy coach Kasey McBeth said students’ language/arts scores are improving at a higher than normal rate thanks to a program implemented this year called Response To Intervention (RTI).
The program is being used at Moccasin and Ottawa elementary schools.
With RTI, students’ language/arts abilities are assessed at least three times a year using universal screening tests and teacher input. The assessments identify the holes, or gaps, in a student’s education.
Students with similar gaps and in the same grade level are grouped together. Each group spends 30 minutes a day four days a week with an intervention teacher learning the specific skills they are struggling with.
Every elementary student is placed in an RTI group, whereas in the past only the at-risk students participated in intervention programs.
“It benefits everyone across the spectrum, not just the at-risk kids or the ones with low test scores,” McBeth said. “That means students that are (high achieving) get to do some extension activities or enrichment that they wouldn’t normally get.”
During an RTI session Friday, McBeth helped a group of about eight students identify consonant blends.
Other groups are working on letter recognition, identifying beginning sounds and phonics skills, to name a few.
“It works so well because it is very targeted,” McBeth said. “These screeners give us very specific skills that the child needs so you can teach that skill and move the child along instead of having them be your struggling kid all year long. Once that gap is filled, they move onto the next one.”
According to McBeth, kindergarten students have improved the most with RTI. She said 10 percent of kindergarteners have moved up one assessment category, either from at-risk to the middle, or from the middle to high.
McBeth isn’t seeing as much of an increase in other grades, but she said students aren’t falling backward on their assessments — something that has happened in the past.
Right now Buchanan is using RTI only for language/arts, but McBeth said they are going to extend RTI to mathematics next year.