Establishing an RtI process means screening all students. 

The RTI process begins with two things - assessment and instruction. On the assessment side, all students in general education are screened. On the instruction side, all students receive high quality, on grade level instruction. Let’s look at how screening can help make sure we are on the correct path with both. 

First  let’s talk about screening. What information is a screener going to provide? The first thing it should identify, is the overall student performance level. This level is critical in determining the student’s tier for intervention. Are they ready to learn at their grade level or are they performing below grade level? One grade level below? Two or more grade levels below? These struggling students need intervention.

The screener helps here too! Within the performance level, skills are identified where students have gaps in their learning.  Those skills are put into an  intervention to accelerate the student’s rate of learning. Intervention at the student’s performance level is the key to filling in those gaps and creating growth

This next part is VERY important. The intervention needs to be MONITORED. That performance level we JUST talked about is the level the student should be assigned progress monitoring. Monitoring the intervention at the level the student is performing allows you to see if the student is responding to the intervention and ultimately determines tier movement during intervention. 

But what about the class as a whole? Screener data is a snapshot of where every student is ready to learn. Teachers use this data to group students. The data gives the teacher a “heads up” before entering certain content areas where students will struggle. This allows you to be proactive in analyzing curriculum and adjusting based on student need.

The most critical use of the screener is to identify students for tiers within RTI. Many district RTI plans include several data points to make a thoughtful determination for each student. That data is used to determine tiers for all students. This pyramid is a great visual. It embodies the concept that instruction and assessment is intensified for the struggling learner. Each tier builds on the next to create a plan that includes instruction and assessment to accelerate student progress. This allows educators to respond quickly to student needs. 

Most of the students in your class will fall into Tier 1. Typically, 80% of students fall into Tier 1, 15% Tier 2, and 5% Tier 3. Tier 2 students are operating one grade level below. Tier 3 students are two or more grade levels below. 

If your pyramid is upside down, meaning you have more students who would fall into tier 3 than into tier 1, it’s time to step back and look at your tier 1 instruction.
It is quite an undertaking to analyze tier one instruction but data can help! Look at your screener data for trends. Identifying the weakest areas and shifting instructional focus can shore up your tier 1 instruction over time.  For example, when a district sees overall weakness in Algebra at the 7th grade level work with 5th and 6th grade teachers to devise a plan to strengthen that area. 

In the meantime, use data to identify your lowest 25 %. Focusing on this group of students is the perfect starting place. 

To sum it all up, screening provides data to get your RTI process off to a solid start.So what does screening help you do?

 You will:  Identify Student Performance levels, assign students to tiers and identify level of progress monitoring, Use data to group students and identify weaknesses to prepare for classroom instruction, Analyze Tier 1 instruction

Join me next time when we talk more deeply about progress monitoring tier 2 and tier 3 students. See you next time!

For a deeper understanding of Classworks Universal Screener data check out these links:

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