By John Funk, Educational Product Manager, Excelligence Learning Corp.
To keep up the ever increasing demand for individualization, many education settings have been implementing the Response to Intervention (RTI) system of teaching. RTI was initially started to help special needs educators have more support and continuity with the classroom teachers. However, Response to Intervention is an excellent way for educators to track the individual progress of all the children in her care. Although RTI began in the school age education systems, it has now filtered down to early childhood. Public preschool programs, as well as Head Start agencies, have started using RTI as a way to help teachers individualize and for special needs to be more inclusive in classroom instruction.
Basically, preschool RTI systems include a 3-tier program. Here is a simple way to look at each tier:
Tier 1: (Large group instruction) The teacher must organize a road map of developmental skills and track the progress of each child in mastering each skill. This tier targets 80-100% of the entire group of children. POCET (Preschool Outcomes Checklist and Evaluation Tool), from Discount School Supply is an excellent example of Tier 1 teaching because it provides a road map of skills and an easy way to track the progress of each child.
Tier 2: (Small group instruction) In Tier 2, the teacher responds to children with known risk factors and skill deficits. In other words, the target children for Tier 2 are those who have not mastered the skills during whole group instruction. This kind of intervention can usually take place in small group settings.
Tier 3: (Individual instruction) This tier provides additional reinforcement, along with intervention from appropriate personnel, to children showing a continual need for developmental support.
By the time the teacher reaches Tier 3 with a student, the teacher has so much background information she can make more informed decisions about support and help for truly special needs children. I think RTI provides an opportunity for teachers to more efficiently individualize instruction for each member of her class.