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Pyramids of Intervention

October 7, 2008

(e-mail from Cheryl Brott to Teachers Association)

Please find attached (see below) a letter from Rick Evans and I to inform you about the Pyramid of Interventions Advisory Committee. If you have any questions, please see the building representatives on the committee and they will forward information to the committee.

Dear Staff Members:

In late February 2008, the District Pyramid of Intervention Advisory Committee was formed. The committee’s primary purpose is to provide buildings with the most useful information, resources and guidance to assist buildings in implementing the most effective classroom and school-wide interventions for struggling students. The committee will assist our district in understanding and adhering to current special education pre-referral requirements, and also help us prepare for Response to Intervention mandates that will take effect in 2012.

To fulfill this charge, the committee has been gathering information and producing resources in some of the following areas:

  • Instructional practices and intervention strategies in BH-BL and beyond to identify strengths and areas for improvement
  • Research and resources pertaining to exemplary pyramids of systematic intervention
  • Staff development for BH-BL staff relating to best instructional practices and interventions to advance the learning of struggling students in the classroom
  • Regulations on Response to Intervention (RTI) & Committee on Special Education Pre-Referrals

Before we finalize resources, committee members will be soliciting your input, ideas and questions as we learn together about how best to provide timely, directive, systematic support for struggling students. We look forward to stimulating informed dialogue and purposeful action among PAT’s, teams, and buildings as we share our collective wisdom to answer a critical question: How do we respond when students don’t learn? In so doing we will prove that “All students can learn at high levels” is not merely a catchy phrase, but an affirmation of what is truly possible in BH-BL.

After a period of time developing our knowledge and resources, soliciting input from constituent groups, and implementing suggested best practices and systematic interventions, a committee will provide guidelines, staff development options, and requirements pertaining to systematic interventions.

Thank you.

Co-chairs, Chery Brott & Rick Evans

The Pyramid of Intervention Advisory Committee

Article on POI and RTI from Du Four's All Things PLC Blog

Excerpt: "While RTI and a Pyramid of Interventions (POI) have essentially the same outcome, we would contend that effectively implementing RTI practices is not possible and should not be pursued until a school effectively begins implementing the three “Big Ideas” of a PLC-a focus on learning, a collaborative culture, and a focus on results. These first steps create the foundation needed to more effectively respond when students don’t learn. To skip these vital steps and move directly into creating a RTI/POI program would be disastrous."

February 1, 2008

(e-mail from Rocco Montesano)

Although there was initial confusion about Response to Intervention (see last memo below), building PAT teams have worked on Pyramids of Intervention in order to address the concerns of teachers about needy students. However, one of the directives to building principals from the District in regards to Pyramids of Intervention calls for staff development before classroom teachers begin implementing new intervention strategies. Therefore, there are two items for your consideration:

1) The District is forming a Pyramid of Intervention Advisory Committee. (See attached) As TA President, I can choose one TA member from each building. Administrators will choose one PAT team member from each building. I would like to appoint general classroom teachers to insure that the classroom perspective is taken into account as strategies for intervention is represented. Remember, it is the classroom teacher who must deliver these strategies of intervention.

Please e-mail me if your are interested in working on this committee. See the description and timeline in this document to get an idea of the time commitment involved.

2) Part of the charge to this committee is to analyze the need for staff development. The fact that staff development has not occurred creates a problem. If you feel you are being asked to use a strategy of intervention in which you are not prepared to deliver, you should address this issue with you Building President immediately. My conversations with Jim Schultz and Rick Evans led to this course of action in an attempt to continue positive changes that have occurred with the PAT process while understanding that staff development has not taken place.

January 22, 2008

(e-mail from Rocco Montesano)

(Response To Intervention) RTI.

This seemingly innocent group of letters has certainly caused a level of concern among TA members. Recently, at the urging of TA leadership, building principals have addressed their faculties about this topic. Using similar talking points, principals have tried to alleviate concerns and re-direct intervention efforts. I feel it is important to give a summary to all TA members as I presently understand the issue.

The New York State Board of Regents approved at their September 2007 meeting the adoption of Section 100.2(ii) of the Commissioner’s Regulations. This Section establishes minimal requirements for using a response to intervention process to determine if a student responds to scientific, research based intervention. General education teachers will deliver the intervention. It should be noted that the Commissioner’s Regulations, permit, but DO NOT MANDATE that School Districts establish a RTI process. In fact, due to lobbying by NYSUT, the first mandate will take place in 2012, and then, only for K-3 reading. NYSUT convinced the Regents that time would be needed for proper staff development of general education teachers in order to deliver, “scientific, research based intervention.”

In the recent past, some administrators and teachers attended a conference on RTI. They saw the benefits of using such an approach at PAT meetings. A system of intervention would provide PAT members with a set of logical steps, referred to as Tiers, in assisting students in need. Accurate record keeping would allow a continuation of services from grade to grade without starting from square one. The tiers can lead to Special Education placement if necessary. Unfortunately, there was confusion about RTI being mandated.

In the fall, faculty members throughout the District were given a presentation at each building about RTI. It was the first time I had heard of this process. The statement was made that RTI was a state mandate. At the time, I accepted the statement. Without staff development, PAT teams and general education teachers began to struggle with the process. Some buildings were impacted more than others, but I heard concerns from all buildings. I contacted NYSUT which led me to information in the second paragraph.

Conversations with Jim Schultz and Rick Evans led to the information in the third paragraph. Concerns were raised about the lack of shared decision making by not establishing a district-wide committee to study the issue and establish proper staff development opportunities BEFORE implementing RTI. The District concern was there were already major initiatives taking place in the District and that a new committee initiative would be too much at this time. Although I appreciated their concern, it was pointed out that not using the shared decision making process has caused even more concern and confusion. I also raised the issue of RTI not being a mandate at this time. To its credit, the District responded immediately. Rick Evans sent the following directives to building principals:

  1. Explain that RTI is not currently mandated
  2. Clarify PAT procedures used in your building
  3. Determine staff development needs of your building
  4. Provide staff training prior to implementing new PAT procedures at the building level
  5. Establish a reasonable timeline before implementing any new PAT procedures
  6. Allow PAT to use judgment and discretion to fast track challenging students when necessary

Additionally, a District Advisory Committee will be formed to provide resources, information guidance and systematic intervention models to assist buildings in an intervention process. The TA will select two PAT members from each building to serve on this committee.

The story doesn’t end here.

As if the issue of RTI isn’t confusing enough, now add another aspect. Although the District IS NOT implementing RTI, the District must adhere to longstanding Special Education Law. Rick Evans provided the principals with the following text:

Long-standing Special Education Law states that general education support services, instructional modifications, alternative instructional approaches, or alternative program options must be attempted to address the student's performance prior to referral to the Committee on Special Education. Part 200 of State Regulations also require a description and documentation of any attempts to remediate a student's performance prior to a referral to the CSE. And so, while we are not implementing a formal RTI process at this time, we as a district must adhere to the special education law that requires the use of the aforementioned prereferral instructional strategies in the general education setting to address the needs of students with learning and/or behavioral problems prior to a referral to the CSE.

So, two forces are at work at the same time. The false start of RTI mandates, together with the need to adhere to State Ed. Regulations, has resulted in more confusion among staff members. What aspects of the PAT process deal with adhering to State ED regulations and what aspects deal with RTI?

In order to meet this requirement of using, “… prereferral instructional strategies in the general education setting…” the District is initiating Pyramids of Intervention. The best way to describe this Pyramid of Intervention process is that it will use the aspects of RTI that fits BH-BL without being locked into the full RTI process as established by the State Ed Dept.

RTI is not being used, but Pyramid of Intervention is being used. As far as the TA is concerned, the directives given to the principals that are listed above also apply to the Pyramid of Instruction.

The Teacher Association will continue its dialogue with the District concerning the series of events that led us to this point of Pyramid of Intervention and the implementation of the Pyramid of Intervention. School Councils and building presidents must be vigilant to insure that the directives given to the principals are followed, especially #4 and #6. The goal of the TA is to best serve the students of the District. This can only be accomplished when educators are knowledgeable and prepared to meet the needs of each child.