Friday, May 20, 2016

A New RTI Model for Schoolwide Reform: The RTI Diamond Approach

It is that time of the year when administrators and teachers start making plans for the next year, reflecting on what worked, what did not work, and what can be improved. As we plan for next school year, I am very excited about implementing a new RTI approach called the RTI Diamond Approach. 
As it is widely known,  in the three-tier RTI approach (RTI pyramid), the teacher collects frequent qualitative and quantitative assessment data through different assessment methods such as anecdotal notes, benchmark assessments, and other assessment tools throughout the year. These assessments provide teachers with opportunities to frequently assess students’ growth or lack of growth. This information allows teachers to group students according to their level of performance. The majority of students’ needs are addressed in tier 1 which includes all or most of the students. Tier 2 provides students with selected instruction and intervention. Tier 3 provides students, who require more intervention and support than that provided at tier 2, with supplemental intervention and targeted instruction. In this three-tiered model, students that do not demonstrate growth receive more intensive support. If students in tier 2 demonstrate growth, RTI support is discontinued. This RTI model focuses on getting underperforming students as closer as possible to grade level expectations. When all this fails, students who are not making progress may be considered for special education.

In the new RTI Model for Schoolwide reform, also known as the RTI Diamond Approach, determining special education services for students is only a small part of the whole RTI approach. This diamond approach focuses on strengths rather than on weaknesses, and its main goal is to address the needs of ALL students. In this approach, all students receive "intervention." Teachers provide frequent progress monitoring of students’ growth, targeted instruction of essential skills, and all students have an opportunity to reach full growth potential. This approach helps underperforming students to make progress and meet expectations, and it provides students that are at grade level or above grade level with challenging content.

How are we going to build the RTI Diamond into the schedule?
The RTI Diamond approach will be built into the master schedule every day in an ELA intervention block. At a specific and different time for each grade level (K-5), curriculum instruction will stop and ALL students will receive targeted instruction of specific and essential skills to challenge every student at their own level. All building intervention teachers (BSI teachers), and literacy teachers (Reading specialist, Speech Language Therapists, ELL intervention teachers, Gifted and Talented teachers) will move into a grade level at the same time and work with classroom teachers as one team (the more teachers, the fewer students in each group.) Based upon individual students’ needs, skills, and levels, students will be divided in homogenous groups for 6-8 week cycles. At the end of each cycle students will be assessed for progress and regrouped based on the skills of focus for the next cycle. The goal is to create homogenous groupings to maximize direct instruction.
Finally, as we prepare to implement this RTI diamond approach in my school, I realize how important it will be to provide teachers with Common Planning Times each week to discuss and plan instruction, to choose the best assessment tools for student placement and monitoring, and to organize and plan instruction that will be provided during each cycle.

Albers, C & Martinez, R (2015) Promoting Academic Success with English Language Learners. Best Practices for RTI.

Bavis & Bavis (n.d.) “Using a Diamond RTI Model to Maximize Learning Growth for All Students” Retrieved on 5/20/16 from: