Academic journal article Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin

Understanding Secondary Teachers' Concerns about RTI: Purposeful Professional Communication

Academic journal article Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin

Understanding Secondary Teachers' Concerns about RTI: Purposeful Professional Communication

Article excerpt


In 2004, Congress reauthorized the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which was meant to ensure that all students were provided with high quality, research-based instruction in reading and math and were given time and instruction to acquire proficient English language skills before being labeled as students who had disabilities. With this reauthorization, Congress shifted the responsibility for many students receiving special education services from the special education teachers to the general education teachers. This brought considerable attention to a strategy known as response to intervention (RTI), as teachers in general education classrooms were now required to monitor, observe, and document academic and social outcomes for these inclusion students (Batsche et al., 2007).

RTI refers to a comprehensive, student-centered framework that involves research-based instruction and intervention in order to provide systematic help to students who are having academic learning problems (Fuchs & Fuchs, 2006). The three-tier model of RTI is the most commonly used framework, and the National Association of State Directors of Special Education uses the RTI framework as its primary model for identifying students who are at risk for being diagnosed with a specific learning disability (SLD) and for implementing intervention strategies based on the needs of each student (Bender & Shores, 2007). Academic and behavioral interventions change at each tier of the three-tier model of RTI, becoming more intense as students move across tiers.

In Tier 1, the general classroom teachers apply scientifically proven programs, using intervention and strategies that scaffold all students' learning. In addition, teachers use established benchmarks to assess students at least three times a year (Fuchs & Fuchs, 2006).

In Tier 2, the general classroom teachers provide supplemental, small-group instruction to students who respond poorly to group instructional procedures that occur in Tier 1. Tier 2 instruction-usually approximately 20 minutes of extra time per day-provides targeted, systematic interventions for small groups of four to five students (Bradley, Danielson, & Doolittle, 2007).

In Tier 3, specialized education teachers address the child's individualized needs through pull-out programs. During this intensive instruction, educators use progress monitoring once or twice a week to determine students' growth and development. During Tier 3, the general classroom teacher provides valuable information about the studentssuch as work habits, academic skills, and classroom behaviors-to the pull-out, specialized educator. In addition, when students progress well, they are removed from the Tier 3 program immediately.

Research about teachers' concerns and criticisms of RTI (e.g., criticisms about student placement, teacher training, and teacher attitude toward inclusion and to RTI) has been conducted in a variety of elementary settings (Fuchs & Fuchs, 2006; Hall & Loucks, 1978; Holloway, 2003; Vaughn & Fuchs, 2003). However, few if any researchers have examined reflective communication by secondary teachers about their problems and concerns in using RTI for inclusion students in their classrooms.

Purpose of the Study

The researchers used the Concerns-Based Adoption Model (CBAM) instruments and exit interviews to examine teachers' perceptions regarding the implementation of RTI in their general secondary-education classrooms. Three research questions (RQs) guided the study;

RQ1; What concerns did secondary teachers have about RTI?

RQ2; What levels of RTI usage did secondary teachers implement?

RQ3; What were secondary teachers' attitudes, and feelings about RTI?

Theoretical Framework

This study was posited within the CBAM, which deals with both Change Theory (Hall, 1979) and Concern Theory (Fuller, 1969). The CBAM contains three diagnostic tools that deal with (a) selfconcerns about teacher adequacy, (b) task concerns about teaching methods and performance, and (c) impact concerns about pupil learning needs (Fuller, Parsons, & Watkins, 1973). …

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