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Shanahan on Literacy

Timothy Shanahan

Literacy expert Timothy Shanahan shares best practices for teaching reading and writing. Dr. Shanahan is an internationally recognized professor of urban education and reading researcher who has extensive experience with children in inner-city schools and children with special needs. All posts are reprinted with permission from Shanahan on Literacy.

How to Screw Up Student Learning Under RtI

July 29, 2016
Reader question:
I am a classroom teacher (grade 3) and a follower of your blog. I also have an M.A. in Reading. Last year our new principal told us that our RtI students do not need to be in the classroom during grade level instruction. I strongly disagree. I think that these students benefit from scaffolded grade level instruction and benefit from the kind of thinking and reading the class is being asked to do during this time.  
Am I wrong to insist my students be in the room during regular reading instruction? If so, please set me straight.  
Shanahan's response:
Dear Perplexed:
The point of RtI is not to REPLACE classroom reading instruction, but to supplement it.
RtI is used to help determine if a student might be suffering from reading/learning disabilities. The reason that student would be referred for intervention support would be because of some concern about the student’s daily progress.
Consequently, we ADD a targeted intervention to the teaching the student is receiving in order to determine whether it promotes greater progress.
If you use the intervention to replace regular instruction then that student would not receive a more intensive and extensive learning experience than what was already provided. All you would be doing is just trading one treatment for another. Not the idea of RtI and not an approach that has been successful in raising reading achievement.
Using the brief intervention to interrupt or replace the longer classroom instruction means that you won’t find out if the student would respond to the extra tuition, because no extra teaching is offered.
Big mistake to pull kids out of their classroom instruction for an intervention unless it has already been determined that they child requires a special education placement (in other words, the student hadn’t responded to the regular teaching plus the intervention).
However, even special education programs — depending on how serious the learning problem — may be used as additional teaching rather than replacement teaching.

I definitely side with you in this. I think your principal is making a big mistake — both undermining kids’ learning progress and making it impossible to determine whether the student has a learning problem.

Comments

Wouldn't it be ILLEGAL for the students to be segregated this way? This teacher's students are being denied equal access to grade level content (or something along those lines).

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