Magazine article National Association of School Psychologists. Communique

Response to Intervention (RTI) in the Province of Saskatchewan

Magazine article National Association of School Psychologists. Communique

Response to Intervention (RTI) in the Province of Saskatchewan

Article excerpt

RTI is at a beginning stage in the Saskatchewan province as well as in other parts of Canada. One needs only to enter RTI and the names of any of the Canadian provinces into any widely used search engine to see the marked difference in the availability of information about RTI when the Canadian provinces and individual American states are compared. Canadian school psychologists often look to their neighbors to the south for guidance, direction, and support. It is hoped that a cross-border sharing of ideas and common challenges will engender a spirit of cooperation and collegiality. With this goal of increasing crossborder collaboration in mind, a detailed description of the status of efforts to implement RTI in Saskatchewan is provided along with some predictions about the future direction of RTI in that province.

Saskatchewan is a province in Canada of just over a million people, with a land mass of just over 250,000 square miles. There are 16 cities in the province but only two of them have over 100,000 residents. The northern half of the province is sparsely populated and has a higher First Nations and Métis (Aboriginal or Native American) population. The population of Saskatchewan is 65% urban and 35% rural (http://www .stats.gov.sk.ca). More than 16,300 miles of highways are in the province with the northernmost communities being accessible by air only during the winter season (http://www.highways.gov.sk.ca). Clearly, implementation of anyprogramormodel such as RTI will be difficult because of limited accessibility of the schools in such a widely spread out geographical area. School psychologists in some of these regions are required to travel a great deal, limiting their connection to each school, its staff, and its students. AS a result, m thesecases,itwouldmakemostsensefor tìie psycholo^st to play primarily a consultant role. Obtaining information gathered within an RTI model of service delivery will greatly assist the psychologist in thesecasestohaveafullerunderstanding of student needs.

According to the 2006 Canadian census, Saskatchewan's First Nations and Métis individuals made up 14.9% of the population, with 54% of these individuals living in urban areas. This population is younger than the rest of the population, with 29.7% from o to 14 years of age compared to 17.4% in the general population (Statistics Canada, 2008). Furthermore, the First Nations and Métis population is growing faster than the general population, with the projection that by 2017, the First Nations and Métis population in Saskatchewan will be 20.8% of the overall population, higher than in any other province (Statistics Canada, 2005). There is a higher dropout rate for First Nations and Métis students for grades K-12, with large numbers of students returning to school as adults. When First Nations and Métis students who reach Grade 10 are compared to the general population of students, 50% go on to complete Grade 12 as compared to 80% of other students (Saskatchewan Learning, 2004). Consequently, the implementation of RTI models in Saskatchewan will need to take into consideration the needs of First Nations and Métis students. Best practices and evidence-based methods may differ depending on the background of the students. It should not be assumed that all First Nations and Métis students have the same needs. Culturally sensitive educational interventions, including RTI, will need to consider the unique experiential backgrounds that these students might share and how this could influence their world views, in general, and approaches to learning, in particular (Claypool & Johnson, in press).

Saskatchewan has a total of 18 public school divisions (586 schools), 10 separate (Catholic) school divisions (120 schools), and ? Francophone school division (13 schools). The school divisions range from having ? to 59 schools with total number of students within the divisions ranging from a low of 46 to a high of 19,861 students. …

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