A Collaborative Planning Framework for Teachers Implementing Tiered Instruction

Article excerpt

The recent reauthorization and regulations of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA 2004) encourage the use of schoolwide interventions including response to intervention (RTI; Bradley, Danielson, & Doolittle, 2007). RTI refers to a multi-tiered system that addresses the academic needs of all students by using evidence-based instructional practice, progress monitoring, and data-informed instructional problem solving (Fuchs & Fuchs, 2006; Rinaldi & Samson, 2008). A tiered system is an educational model that delineates three or more levels of instructional interventions based on gaps in student skills. A tier is a level in an RTl system that includes interventions and supports for a clearly defined group of students. RTI is highly encouraged as it ensures high-quality instruction and universal screening of all children, addresses the needs of struggling learners by providing interventions at increasing levels of intensity, and significantly decreases the number of inappropriate referrals to special education (Vaughn & Ortiz, 2008). As a result, a significant number of public schools in the United States are in the planning and implementation stages of this initiative.

In this article, we present a collaborative planning framework for educators implementing RTI. The framework addresses how educators can use universal screening and progress monitoring data to plan for instruction at all tiers as well as evaluate the responsiveness of interventions provided at the Tier 2 and Tier 3 levels within the RTI model. The results are a feasible support system by which educators can improve service delivery to all students, including those identified as English Language Learners (ELLs). Using the recommendations by Fuchs, Mock, Morgan, and Young (2003); Harry and Klingner (2006); and the regulations of IDEA 2004, we developed the Collaborative Instructional Planning and Intervention framework (see Figure 1).

Collaborative Planning Framework

This framework is an effective way to ensure that educators can deliver Tier 1 services, defined as core instruction, through evidence-based instructional practices that all students can access. It also ensures that students who receive Tier 2 and Tier 3 services receive small group instruction in areas of academic difficulty, in addition to Tier 1 instruction. Finally, it guarantees that students who receive Tier 3 services also receive instructional support, delivered one-toone, in order to meet specific needs in addition to Tier 1 and Tier 2 instruction.

The framework is composed of three main phases: Planning, Execution, and Feedback (see Figure 1).

Instructional Planning

The first phase of this framework is Instructional Planning. In the Instructional Planning phase, grade level teams develop a collaborative support team that functions as a support system for potential instructional problem solving. We recommend that schools implementing an RTI structure provide additional planning time for grade level teachers and a specialist (e.g., special education teacher) to address the components of the model effectively. During these meetings, educators form grade level teams and adopt the use of an RTl protocol (see Figure 2). Using this protocol, teams determine the risk level of students and place them into tiers using data gathered from a universal screening process. Using the recommendations by the National Reading Panel in Reading Instruction, the grade level team identifies specific areas of difficulty in reading (e.g., phonemic awareness, decoding, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension). This process provides a classwide view of the risk level of the classroom. It also provides guidance for instructional problem solving and progress monitoring for students in Tier 2 and Tier 3.

During this Planning phase, grade level teams need to consider where they can find evidence-based interventions that support the core reading instruction. …