Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

Elementary Preservice Teachers' Experiences with Response to Intervention

Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

Elementary Preservice Teachers' Experiences with Response to Intervention

Article excerpt

In today's public schools, general education teachers must be adequately prepared to teach students with multiple learning needs, including students who do not speak English, who have identified or suspected disabilities, and/or who have diverse cultural and racial backgrounds. The enactment of No Child Left Behind in 2001 (NCLB) and the reauthorization of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA) placed an emphasis on providing research-based instructional practices in the general education classroom before an at-risk student can be considered for placement in special education. It is vital that general education teachers are prepared to work with this diversity in classrooms, including strategies to work with students who are at risk for developing learning difficulties or who may already have a disability.

Response to intervention (RTI) is a general education intervention system used by classroom teachers to assist struggling learners and provide individualized, academic support to help all students succeed academically (D. Fuchs & Fuchs, 2006). This process is also vital as a prereferral process as a prerequisite to special education referrals and eligibility determination (Fletcher & Vaughn, 2009). Schools must consider important legal ramifications in regard to special education identification and eligibility. Identification and prereferral processes are the responsibility of the general education teacher as the first point of contact with a student who struggles academically or behaviorally (Fletcher & Vaughn, 2009; Mastropieri & Scruggs, 2005).

Response to Intervention in Practice

RTI has been widely studied as an evidence-based intervention process used to assist struggling learners in the classroom or to identify students as having a learning disability in either reading or math (Baker, Gersten, & Dae-Sik, 2002; Fuchs et al., 2005; Gersten et al., 2009; Scammacca et al., 2007; Wanzek & Vaughn, 2007). Recently, studies have also focused on campus and teacher RTI implementation in individual districts and schools, including many of the teacher concerns related to their development and practice of RTI in classroom settings (Greenfield, Rinaldi, Proctor, & Cardarelli, 2010; Orosco & Klingner, 2010; Rinaldi, Averill, & Stuart, 2011; Stuart, Rinaldi, & Higgins-Averill, 2011; Wilcox, Murakami-Ramalho, & Urick, 2013).

Preservice general education preparation is significant in predicting teachers' perceptions of working with students who have disabilities. Research has demonstrated that general education practitioners do not feel adequately prepared to work with students who have disabilities or with students in inclusion settings (Conderman & Johnston-Rodriguez, 2009; Goodlad & Field, 1993). Special education preservice course work is connected with more positive attitudes among general educators toward teaching students who have learning disabilities (McCray & Alvarez-McHatton, 2011; McHatton & Parker, 2013). Studies linking preservice preparation to teachers' attitudes in working with students who have disabilities are an important predictor of positive instructional approaches related to mainstreaming and inclusion (Ajuwon et al., 2012; Hadadian & Chiang, 2007; Rademacher, Wilhelm, Hildreth, Bridges, & Cowart, 1998; Van Laarhoven, Munk, Lynch, Bosma, & Rouse, 2007; Voss & Bufkin, 2011). Research has also connected teacher confidence and self-efficacy with preservice course work and field experiences in special education issues (Atiles, Jones, & Kim, 2012; Brownell & Pajares, 1999; Gao & Mager, 2011; Lancaster & Bain, 2010). Related to the context of RTI, these studies are vital for consideration, because RTI and special education are inextricably linked through general education support strategies for struggling learners.

Successful RTI implementation is dependent on a teacher's preparation and development to implement the dynamic relationship of student assessment, intervention, monitoring, and decision making. …

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