The ways in which we help struggling students have been evolving and are now proving to be beneficial at preventing children from developing full-scale learning disabilities. Until recently, children were not given special help until fourth grade. It was thought that many children with difficulties would outgrow them. If a child was “identified” they were often placed in special classes and even received different curriculum.
Recently we have become aware of the importance of early and targeted intervention. When a teacher or other professional suspects a child is having trouble, the first step is to identify the problem. The earlier this is done, the less chance that child will develop bad learning habits that are more difficult to rectify. Some excellent tools that can be introduced early in a child’s education are RTI reading programs from Essential Skills. These programs use pretests to identify areas of student difficulty and prescribe targeted reading intervention starting at the kindergarten level.
The process of enacting any RTI interventions normally begins with the homeroom or literacy teacher. Well-trained professional educators will know what to watch out for when they suspect a problem. Essential Skills offers RTI reading intervention programs that will identify areas of weakness and simultaneously report to teachers. If a teacher believes there may be an issue, the following steps are taken.
The screening process often requires students to respond to curriculum-based questions and tasks. If a child is not achieving an age-level average, they will be deemed “at-risk”. This task is made more efficient and accurate by incorporating RTI programs for reading from Essential Skills.
“At-risk” students will be taught the same curriculum as other age-level children. Essential Skills programs can be used to reinforce skills being taught in the classroom.
The type and amount of intervention will be determined by the specific areas of need. Generally, a team that may include classroom teachers, special ed professionals and other support workers will use evidence based on daily performance to determine which areas to focus on. The regular use of RTI programs for reading such as those developed by Essential Skills will provide reports on the daily progress of each child and help identify areas of need. Often when specific needs are correctly identified and addressed early enough, they will not become ingrained.
Results of regular performance of grade-level tasks are charted to create a visual image showing progress or lack thereof. Essential Skills has developed RTI reading intervention programs that will provide an accurate picture of student performance in a variety of areas. Essential Skills program posttests can be used to chart progress over time.
All students involved in RTI programs should be frequently monitored and re-evaluated. If students continue to show a downward curve, the level or type of intervention should be adjusted accordingly. In many cases, children who are given the help they need at an early stage of learning may completely overcome their difficulties and move ahead independently with little or no intervention.