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District has new model for handling students' academic and behavioral problems

By the Notebook on Dec 7, 2012 12:54 PM

by Charlotte Pope

The School District has begun to roll out a new system for responding to poor classroom performance, bad behavior, and truancy in students.

The West Philadelphia Parent and Family Resource Center, in collaboration with the School District of Philadelphia’s Parent University, held the second of four parent workshops Thursday to introduce a new system called RtII, or Response to Instruction and Intervention.

The RtII model promises targeted interventions and the differentiation of universal instruction to meet individual student needs. The model is built around levels of school support in academics, behavior, discipline, and attendance. All of them use alternatives to suspension and expulsion, routine intervention assessments, and frequent progress monitoring.

RtII was launched in the District as a pilot program with limited use in 2009. It is gradually being implemented across all District schools and will replace the District’s Comprehensive Student Assistance Process (CSAP).

Julia Manokhina, a program manager with the District’s Office of Parent, Family, and Community Services, said it’s a needed change because the CSAP process lacked a proactive method of intervention.

“With CSAP, we waited until the students really started failing -- until they really got in trouble with behavior,” said Manokhina, who led the discussion.

“As the data started coming in, we realized it was time for us to make a change. So we are holding these workshops to let parents know what they should expect and what they should ask for if their child is falling behind,” Manokhina said.

Cynthia Wesley, a school improvement support liaison at Alain Locke Elementary, keeps track of student attendance and monitors truancy, one of the four targeted support systems of the RtII model.

She began using the RtII method in September and has been going through training on how to encourage student attendance and let parents know that learning does not stop when a child comes home.

“I work to help educate parents about the model and how it’s functioning, and to get parents more involved in their child’s education,” Wesley said. “Parental support for education is a very big piece in providing incentives for attendance.”

Manokhina said that as RtII is rolled out, they continue to collect data about the students' benchmarks and attendance numbers, and monitor their behaviors.

"Based on this we have a clear picture of which kids are on track, and which kids start falling behind," said Manokhina. “This gives us a chance to really intercede [with] students who are starting to fall behind.”

Two more RtII explanation sessions will be held: Tuesday, Dec. 11, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Andrew J. Morrison School, and Thursday, Dec. 13, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Woodrow Wilson Middle School. Parents and others interested in attending can register online at the Parent University.

Charlotte Pope is an intern at the Notebook. 

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Comments (67)

Submitted by rob (not verified) on December 7, 2012 2:32 pm
When I read the headline of this article I was excited and then I saw it is about RTII. What a joke!
Submitted by Penny P (not verified) on December 7, 2012 6:27 pm
Call it what you will, it's lipstick on a pig if you ask me. The real system is called P.A.T.S. (Pass Around The Slug). They move a dangerous kid in need around from school to school. They provide high quality BS to parents and the receiving schools. This time they are implementing this strategy and that strategy but they are just really playing a variation of the old Hot Potato game. In this case the spud is breathing.
Submitted by History Teacher (not verified) on December 7, 2012 2:44 pm
I'm sorry...RTii and the district are a joke. Why must they try to re-create the wheel every year? The sad thing is that CSAP was actually half way working for high schools last year. Sure the system was slow, but at least it made sense. Now the district wants to throw that out for a system we were told to begin using at the beginning of the year. RTii makes very little sense for an intervention system at the classroom level for various reasons. The first problem using RTii on the classroom level, at least the way we were instructed, was that classroom teachers are only to input issues that are academic related. For example- Student A is failing. Reason- not turning in work. But the only allowed interventions to select were- Read 180, etc... You could not selected poor attendance, etc...only counselors were allowed to use those options. How can a classroom teacher of non English or Math be told to select assigned class/curriculum based interventions? Nor was there a way to include true failure reasons. Another problem with RTii was that you had to make student groups in a way that made no sense. The system itself was not user friendly. Now our school has been told that for "Level 1 RTii" teachers are allowed to simply keep anecdotal records. Back to the same things its been since I've been in the district. How about the district stop rolling things out that haven't been truly tested and actually take the time to perfect a system for once.
Submitted by Phila. Teacher (not verified) on December 7, 2012 2:54 pm
You should ask a teacher what they think of RtII. The implementation is a mess and very time consuming. It is designed for elementary school - academic "interventions are totally inappropriate for high schools.
Submitted by ANON 452 (not verified) on December 7, 2012 6:35 pm
It is not working in K-8 either. The SDP directed us to only use RTII for reading issues. Then, as others have said, ONLY the counselor can enter info for attendance and behavior. Also, the computer system keeps deleting groups and the listed "interventions" are not available in most schools. Once again, the SDP is not paying for and renewing online contracts (Imagine It online availability was recently cancelled), so the interventions are not really available.
Submitted by Brian Cohen (not verified) on December 8, 2012 11:47 am
RtII has been implemented incredibly poorly across the School District. At my school we have not really been trained in its effective use so we are using something else to track student behaviors on a school-level and implement interventions. I wrote about this in a post for Microsoft last year ( and we have been using it effectively in my school for almost two years now. I highly recommend this system as it is safe, secure, and efficient.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 8, 2012 1:49 pm
How are academic interventions inappropriate for High School students? There aren't High School students who are having difficulty mastering certain skills? In the School District of Philadelphia?
Submitted by History Teacher (not verified) on December 7, 2012 2:58 pm
I'm sorry...RTii and the district are a joke. Why must they try to re-create the wheel every year? The sad thing is that CSAP was actually half way working for high schools last year. Sure the system was slow, but at least it made sense. Now the district wants to throw that out for a system we were told to begin using at the beginning of the year. RTii makes very little sense for an intervention system at the classroom level for various reasons. The first problem using RTii on the classroom level, at least the way we were instructed, was that classroom teachers are only to input issues that are academic related. For example- Student A is failing. Reason- not turning in work. But the only allowed interventions to select were- Read 180, etc... You could not selected poor attendance, etc...only counselors were allowed to use those options. How can a classroom teacher of non English or Math be told to select assigned class/curriculum based interventions? Nor was there a way to include true failure reasons. Another problem with RTii was that you had to make student groups in a way that made no sense. The system itself was not user friendly. Now our school has been told that for "Level 1 RTii" teachers are allowed to simply keep anecdotal records. Back to the same things its been since I've been in the district. How about the district stop rolling things out that haven't been truly tested and actually take the time to perfect a system for once.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 7, 2012 3:37 pm
Keep in mind, folks, this has nothing to do with actually helping students receive the assistance they need. It's all a shell game to quiet the Lawyers of the kids who are chronically disruptive, violent and prevent everyone else from learning, because they are the only parents who actually yell and complain about schools picking on their precious little angels. So every year or so we release a "new and improved" RTII, CSAP etc. load of B.S. meant to frustrate overworked teachers, protect the BAD students causing the problems and hold the 98% of the other kids hostage, by making it impossible to deal with the 2% (or less) of the students that NEED to be removed from the school so the other 98% can actually have a safe and conducive learning environment
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on December 7, 2012 7:18 pm
Yes, I fully concur but I believe the figure is about 15% not 2%. As a former Principal, I simply couldn't do anything to get kids out until they committed acts so egregious that someone got hurt, very hurt. No school can function at its best under those circumstances. Until that philosophy is changed, nothing good will emerge. You can't help some of the kids period, end of story and we all know it. Gene Mauch once said that sometimes you add by subtracting. This is one of those times. I am very liberal overall but as a former Eagle once said, "Sometimes, things just bees that way."
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 11, 2012 1:13 am
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 7, 2012 7:20 pm
My high school staff got "training" on RTII and it is worse than bad. It is truly one of the worst things 440 has mandated in a long time.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 8, 2012 9:16 am
I'm not positive, but I think it's a federal mandate. RTIi is not coming from 440. The lack of training and its set-up is attributed to 440, but not this shiny new solution.
Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on December 8, 2012 10:46 am
I believe something akin to RtII - formerly CSAP - is required under NCLB. RtII appears to be the latest craze. Previously, CSAP required more time for counselors. Now, more time is required by teachers for the paper work. The time required obviously does not include planning and implementing the "instructional strategies."
Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on December 8, 2012 3:51 pm
RTII is not a 400 mandate. It is a mandate of the state and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004.
Submitted by g (not verified) on December 7, 2012 9:24 pm
I have sat through three "trainings" about RTII (Phila. is so wonderful that THEY add an extra "I" !) So far.... I have learned (In each session) : 1.There is a triangle. 2. Most of the kids are at the bottom. 3. Some are in the middle. 3. Only a few need to be at the top. 4. The top is for kids who may actually need testing. 5. Classroom teachers are responsible for creating "groups" of students and clicking on canned "interventions" that mostly do not exist. 6.Groups must be tended on-line weekly-except nobody knows how to actually navigate the system. It is not intuitive and there is NO manual. 7.The "turn around" time is quick-a child will be cured of his or her problem in-possibly-a week! 8.This is the most important part of RTII : Write down your concerns about each child in a marble copybook and use ALL of the resources that are at your disposal to help your students.The list is extensive-"Me, Myself, and I".
Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on December 8, 2012 3:54 pm
Philadelphia didn't add the extra I. The state of Pennsylvania uses the term RTII. See: In other places, it's just RTI, but in Pennsylvania, it's RTII (Secondary Response to Instruction and Intervention (RtII))
Submitted by Cycle Back (not verified) on December 7, 2012 9:00 pm
rtii is another waste of time and money - bascially at the classroom level it's up to the teacher to work things out him or herself with the students and a good bit of the time with supportive parents... I wish the district would just be honest and say "no matter what, your problems are your own - there is no help on the way(and therefore we won't waste your time with paperwork - or computer work - we'll let you invest your time in doing interventions rather than navigating through our 'intervention system')" 1 idea might reduce many problems between 440, principals, and teachers - and get rid of so many stupid ideas that get handed down Require every person in the hierarchy between the level of teacher and the level of superintendent to cycle back into a real classroom for 2 years after every 3 years of service as an administrator. Let administrators be contractually required to LIVE in the environments they create If you're good as an admin - you could serve 3 years, 2 years, 3 years, 2 years... jump back and forth between the classroom and administration - but knowing that you will have to be back in the classroom will eliminate (1) creating policies that you know are stupid and/or fake at the classroom level (2) becoming an administrator to escape the classroom (3) being nasty and inconsiderate to those who might be the colleague down the hall from you in a few years (4) "yes men" for the superintendent - because there will be no such thing as "staying in power" for many years If we fought for a clause like this - that all administrators must cycle back into the classroom for a number of years - we wouldn't have to fight so much for getting good resources, prep time, small class sizes, etc. because there would be a desire on the part of administration to actually do what is best at the school level and classroom level, because again they'd have to live in the circumstances they created
Submitted by g (not verified) on December 7, 2012 10:19 pm
I LOVE your idea. It will never be implemented because it would actually force real change. The ivory tower will never agree to stop being the ivory tower.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 7, 2012 11:17 pm
Stupid idea, they return to the classroom, more actual teachers get pink slips.
Submitted by Phila. Teacher (not verified) on December 8, 2012 2:05 am
Not in a teacher run school. The time has come....
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on December 8, 2012 8:13 am
A more progressive way to view the principal is as the "lead teacher" of a collaborative professional learning community. In that perspective, a teacher can be collaboratively and democratically selected or even elected to be the "lead teacher" of the school. The lead teacher could serve for a prescribed number of years (1, 2 or 3 at the most) and then someone else may be selected by the school community for the role of lead teacher. There would then be opportunity for others to serve as the lead teacher in a "shared leadership" model. The lead teacher could then resume the role of teaching. Under that model, the lead teacher could also be required to teach at least one or two classes. I submit that would be a far superior way of selecting the leader of a school and a far superior way of transitioning the leader out of the leadership role if he or she is not as effective as the community would like. A truly collaborative school such as that could be set up under the "independent school model" which is already set out in the Pennsylvania School Code as an alternative model of school governance, or a charter school could be set up to be governed in that manner. There is no reason or law which prevents schools from being governed and led in that manner. What we need is "progressive thinkers" among our leaders and some "deep thinking" about leadership and what schools of the future should be. "Rethinking Schools" and The Notebook are two forums where we should be publicly discussing "innovative models" of schools and school governance.
Submitted by Anonymous on December 8, 2012 10:54 am
This "lead teacher" idea sounds rather idealistic to me. The problem is, in the real world, things just don't work out that way. Just a few reasons why the "team leadership" approach would be an uphill battle. Not everyone transitions well - some people, yes even teachers, take longer to adjust to new things than others. This is wasted time if the leadership changes every 2-3 years. Not everyone is a team player - some just never do accept the idea of taking one for the team or giving their all to an idea that they either do not believe in completely or did not develop on their own. Not everyone is motivated by the same things - some teachers are in it for the money, the power, the...whatever. This does not necessarily make them bad teachers, but it could impede their ability to be aligned with a common goal. Not everyone knows how to "play nice" - some people will never support other people for whatever reason. Now I'm not saying that this model can not happen. I'm just suggesting that it would have to be a "perfect storm" of individuals and circumstances to have it come about and continue to progress. And, just as importantly, how long can it be sustained? Because, as we all know, the only constant is change. Respectfully submitted Ruth Penning
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on December 8, 2012 11:30 am
Every school I have ever worked at in my 34 years had a leadership team of teachers, AP's, and teacher leaders who were dedicated and committed to the task of educating students properly. The most effective principals were those who worked collaboratively with the leadership team and most often used "persuasive leadership" and relationship building to "build a sense of community." The concept of a "leadership team" is taught in every leadership development program I have ever participated in, and is part of the advocacy of every authority on leadership I have ever read and that includes both the private sector and public sector. When teachers choose their own leaders, they will always choose a team player, unless, of course, they error. In a democratic process, where the leaders are reselected every few years, those errors of leadership choice can be rectified. If the leader is chosen from within the community, a change of leadership is not destructive at all because the ledership team has not changed much. If the community chooses a leader from outside the community, the community will always try to find someone who fits their community. Effective leaders are those who develop a "collective vision" a "common mission" and a "collective commitment to task." That can only be done through collaborative leadership. Ineffective leaders attempt to impose his or her vision upon a school. Every principal I have worked under who tried to impose his or her vision upon a school, always created negative synergy. Those who tried to develop a collective vision and collaboration always created positive synergy and excitement within the school. Ineffective models of school governance impose leaders upon a school community. A case in point is the School District of Philadelphia. The most detailed research on those concepts of effective school leaders came from the work of a guy named Haberman who studied effective urban principals for 40 years in Milwaukee Wisconsin. What you describe above are outcomes of autocratic leadership and imposed leaders. It is an outcome of bureaucratic governance which is based on a "factory model" of governance, or even worse, an 18th century feudalistic model. The common factor of every Great school I have worked in or visited was that it had a Great school community. There is a reason we elect our president, governor and mayor and limit their terms to 4 years. There is a reason why 96% of our school boards are elected (Exceot in charter schools). It is because our forefathers had the wisdom to understand the power of democracy.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 8, 2012 1:57 pm
I have had the privilege of working with two such principals as you describe above. They were in every sense of the word community builders, responsive to staff and community partner's needs and terrific to work with. They had a team approach and the schools had a team leadership made up of individuals from all levels of the organization and community. However, those other people still existed in the school; Those who do not transition well, those who do not play nicely, and those whose motives were mixed at best. Those people will always exist, even if a good leader may be able to minimize their impact on the rest of the team. I would also put forward the idea that some charter schools are designed to function in the way you describe. I am not talking about the charters that are run by the corporations, but those that are set up in response to a vision. While it is true that working in those schools was made more enjoyable by the fact that the faculty was mostly cohesive and the admin was certainly supportive, it did not necessarily follow that the school was effective in teaching children. In fact, one of the schools was in the lowest percentile of the district in academic achievement. I appreciate the opportunity to discuss innovative models of schools, but I hesitate to advocate for something as a panacea; especially something as difficult to achieve as the utopia you describe. Ruth
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on December 8, 2012 2:24 pm
Rich--I always enjoy reading your posts. However, I am still working in schools and the new or semi new Principals are NOT of the ilk about whom you write, at least not the ones with whom I've had contact. Many only appear to have a distant understanding of grammar and seem to relish in it. They also tend to try to "get over" whenever possible and claim to have a connection at 440 which overrides any infraction they commit, including egregious ones done on purpose. In short, most are blathering morons based in bullying.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on December 8, 2012 3:32 pm
Maybe with the new controversy over who is running professional development for prospective principals, we will begin to have open and honest public conversations about what effective leadership is and what it is not. Of course, the essential question is first, "How shall we choose our leaders?" The second essential question is, "How long should their term of office be?" And the third essential question is, "How do we change leadership?"
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on December 8, 2012 4:26 pm
Unless this influx of unregulated charter fiascoes comes to an end, democracy will come to an end too. The playing field is already unequal but this new corruption of the system will segregate the kids even more and, of course, all by design. Corbett is doing his part for the shot callers, stripping the real schools in all directions while propping up his buddies like the lawyer in Chester County. ALL of this is being done right in our face without even a pretense of the shell game and we take it. As long as we do, it will continue unabated. Pedro and his merry group are mouthpieces with massive conflict of interest issues too.
Submitted by Cycle Back (not verified) on December 8, 2012 3:58 pm
Leadership for our entire country is set up to change hands every four years (8 if there's a re-election). The worst kind of leaders are the ones that try to stay in power and never plan to return to "real life." I'll agree that the first few transitions might be rocky. But when you ask, "how long can it be sustained?" If we get through the first few transitions, the program will last indefinitely. We need people to run things that know what they're doing (and right now, that is too often not the case - leaders are out of touch, even when they've got "good hearts and intentions"). [I would submit the same proposal for the teacher's union - leadership for the union shouldn't be more than 3 years out of the classroom... they should cycle back in also].
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 8, 2012 12:09 pm
You're really out of touch if you believe your post. Philadelphia has a history of never having enough teachers so even with an influx of administrators we will still be coming up short with competent teachers. Personally I always thought administrators should have to spend some of their time each week in class. As they rotate throughout the school they will be personally able to see how each teacher runs their room. This would be a form of assessment.
Submitted by Cycle Back (not verified) on December 8, 2012 3:03 pm
Nobody would be put out of a job - with administrators cycling back into the classroom, we'd need teachers from within the ranks to step up and fill their vacancies for a time. I guarantee, the first thing that would happen if this kind of program got put into place would be, within 3 years, most of the dead weight at the top would clear out of town on their own and find somewhere else where they could be "here for the children" without being "here with the children."
Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on December 8, 2012 3:10 pm
I respectfully disagree with your characterization of RTII. RTII is a proactive approach. Before RTII, there was a wait-to-fail approach. General education teachers and/or parents cannot just say anymore, "Mary can't read, let's evaluate her for special ed." With RTII, the school actually has to do an intervention and see if this helps. The general ed teacher can't just fail a student; he or she has to try something first and document the intervention. RTII is a part of the the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004. Prior to RTII, there was no requirement that a general education teacher do anything to intervene for a struggling student or differentiate instruction. Some teachers did this, but not all. I've seen this first hand during my student teaching at a District school. Some teachers at the school do work with kids who are struggling or are in special ed. They differentiate for these students. There are also teachers who are not used to having to do much to work with struggling/special ed students beyond the minimum. There have been PDs on using the tiered intervention system at this school, so it's not a lack of knowledge on the part of the teachers. It's a lack of implementation. Some teachers do the bare minimum. They use the Extra Support masters from Trophies and read the texts and tests aloud for students who struggle to read, but they don't go beyond that. Other teachers do go beyond. They may adapt worksheets even further, by adding pictures or having a child cut and paste instead of writing the answers. This takes time, but the teacher can use this differentiated version year after year. By law, a general education teacher is supposed to integrate specially designed instruction for students with IEPs. This is the way special education works now. Special education is a service, not a place. The responsibility for special ed falls on both special ed and general ed teachers. I've seen the menu for RTII that the District has. It seems kind of restrictive that the teacher has to choose from this menu, but at least the teacher isn't responsible for designing his/her own intervention.
Submitted by Philly Teacher (not verified) on December 8, 2012 4:21 pm
This is probably your most clueless comment to date. Do you have your own class(es) in the School District? Have you tried to implement an RtII reading intervention (which according to the School District has to be from a company - not strategies)? You have spouted the School District "party line." Yes, all teacher have to so called "differentiate" to ensure students are making progress but adding another tracking system which is not flexible and requires additional supports won't do it.
Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on December 8, 2012 5:44 pm
Actually, I've quite well-informed about RtII. What I said is consistent with best practices for the 21st century. I student-taught in a special ed class in the SDP. I partook in some of the RtII trainings. I sat in on meetings about special ed legal cases. Yes, RtII requires that schools collect data. With computer-based programs like Lexia and Earobics, the program collects the data, so it doesn't require much data collection on the part of the teacher. With programs like Reading Mastery, the data is the worksheets and assessments that come with the curriculum. Teachers and administrators at the school where I student taught received PD about how to use Lexia's data and provide additional instruction to reinforce concepts. RtII also gives the school ammunition in the case of legal cases because the school can say, "Here's what we did to intervene with the student. We didn't just let him/her fail." At the SDP school where I student taught, SOME of the general ed teachers were doing the bare minimum for students who were behind or were in special ed. Other general ed teachers worked with their struggling/special ed students. The RtII model was forcing the teachers who did the bare minimum to actually WORK WITH their struggling students instead of just requesting an evaluation for special ed or asking the parents to request an evaluation. For special ed students, RtII requires teachers to differentiate instruction. Regular ed teachers can't just put all of the burden for special ed on the special ed teacher. Regular ed teachers have to try and meet some of the special ed student's needs in the regular ed classroom. This is providing education in the Least Restrictive Environment. Schools can't just say, "Let the special ed teacher deal with the special ed students." It's a shared responsibility. As far as the RtII options, a teacher may not like the menu of options, but at least the teacher doesn't have to design the RtII. At the Mastery school where I spent time, teachers have more responsibility for doing of the RtII. There was support from the Assistant Principal of Specialized Services, but there wasn't a menu of options like what the SDP provides.
Submitted by Philly Teacher (not verified) on December 8, 2012 5:04 pm
Again, you only have a narrow view of what is happening but claim expertise. 85% of the students are to be instructed with "strategies" for RtII (we were explicit told they are not "interventions") which are to be planned by the teacher. None of these are new - graphic organizers, to SQ3R, etc. Any teacher worth his or her salt is including a variety of literacy strategies with many different texts. We were told 15% of students will receive "interventions" which have to be "from a box" or programs produced by a company. The problems with implementation - especially at the high school level - is the interventions aren't in place, are too expensive, and/or there is place in a student's roster for an intervention other than some 9th grade students. So, the SDP may have a "menu of options" but it doesn't mean more than one, if any, are in the building.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 8, 2012 9:18 pm
EGS, I too am getting a Master's in Education, specifically Special Education, and I usually agree with your posts. However, on this one, I am in agreement with Philly Teacher. I am the "RTII Champion" for my school and I have trouble keeping up with it b/c there are so many other things to do in a small K-8 school. I have time to meet with the other 7th and 8th grade teacher (I teach math and science, he teaches SS and English), along with our LS teacher and Principal, but this occurs at 2:30 on a Friday. Working with this program takes the 39 minutes we have just to create one plan. Additionally, there is no way for us to ever include the specialist teachers that work with the students. Finally, when I made a plan for a student's argumentativeness and verbal disruption, the only appropriate intervention offered is a daily report. Nothing else available is very applicable in our specific school. In a perfect world, RTII, much like Communism, is a good option. However, this is Philadelphia. . .
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 9, 2012 1:27 am
Once again you are dodging the poster's question. Do you have your own class that you teach daily while doing the RTII? No, so until then stop telling us how wonderful RTII is because it's nonsense. Nothing about overloading already overloaded teachers is "proactive". There is not training for these "interventions" and nothing about how to control a class while teaching a handful of students who are way behind. Anyone who is really teaching cannot focus on two things at once. If you had an valid teaching experience you would realize this by now. Teachers are not given extra time for this crap, but are expected to give up even more personal time (we still have to grade papers, make tests, etc. at home) to justify the do-nothings down at 440 who are playing CYA. Special ed is only a "shared" responsibility because this district doesn't want to pay for sufficient special ed. teachers. We get not training for special ed students or supplies. I have enough trouble just finding sufficient supplies for my regular class. When do you think I will find time to hunt out, let alone pay for, the specific materials needed for special ed kids? Get real.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on December 9, 2012 12:18 pm
I find this whole line of dialogue very interesting because they discuss the same issues we had heated debates about within our Reading Department, and the entire school, at University City H.S. 30 years ago. It is the "homogeneous vs. heterogeneous" grouping argument, which has always been an issue in education for over 100 years now. The issue is whether reading disability, and math disability, can be adequately remedied in a heterogeneous setting. I have taught reading in both heterogeneous settings and in homogeneous small group settings in high school. I have also taught reading as a high school English teacher and as a teacher of Law, a content area subject. It is physically impossible for a single teacher to meet the needs of seriously disabled readers in a large group setting. No teacher can take a child aside and give them adequate interventions as an aside to regular instruction. Reading instruction for disabled students must be student centered and highly individualized and has to be every day all period long to make any significant progress. That is why our most effective elementary programs in our State have always had reading specialists and math specialists in addition to regular classroom teachers. In class support helps those students learn the subject matter of that class, but it does little to remedy the disability which is the underlying root cause of the student's problem. Does anyone in our district ever discuss "dyslexia" anymore? Which of course, is a reading disability which afflicts approximately 10% of our student and adult population. Those students can not possibly attain the same rate of reading growth as non disabled students even though they are just as intelligent as anyone. Dyslexic students do not perceive and process the written word the same as others. That is not the student's fault and it is not the teacher's fault. However, the fact that students and teachers do not have adequate supports to provide meaningful interventions and remedy, "Is the Fault" of the administration, the SRC and Governor Corbett.
Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on December 9, 2012 10:57 pm
Yes, my experience with RTII is more limited than yours and other posters on here. However, RTII is not a system that 440 made up out of thin air. I'm not trying to defend 440. RTI is a part of the newest version of IDEA, IDEIA 2004 (,root,dynamic,QaCorner,8,).
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 10, 2012 11:54 pm
As I said above, I am getting a Master's Degree in Special Education, and I can tell you for certain that the way the district has rolled out RTI(I) is the problem. Again, the idea is fantastic, but it does not work. Has anyone really discussed that there is nothing being done for math this year at all? The district, not wanting to overwhelm schools, is only requiring students to be put in RTII for reading. What happens if they have a legitimate math problem? Why is this program good enough for one, but not the other?
Submitted by g (not verified) on December 9, 2012 9:04 am
Here's the problem: The "interventions" are fake. Most schools have NONE of the listed programs. The only support most teachers can give is what they always do . They can pull kids aside for individual help in the classroom-while teaching everyone else and dealing with behavioral/emotional issues. There is NO NEW SOURCE OF SUPPORT. There is NO NEW SOURCE OF SUPPORT. There is NO NEW SOURCE OF SUPPORT. RTII is just an online system of cover your ass.
Submitted by HS SS teacher (not verified) on December 7, 2012 10:55 pm
Instead of making more work for the teachers, why don't we try blaming and putting the onus on the parents or students for once. This district is a joke.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 8, 2012 12:13 am
In order to effectively implement RTII you need to have a flexible schedule, staff for small grouping, and resources. Of course since it's Philly they have mandated something that could possible work but haven't effectively trained staff or provided them with the tools to actually make it work. It's easy to say schools are failing if you are purposely dismantling it.
Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on December 8, 2012 3:37 pm
The school where I am student teaching has a period of the day for interventions. Every class has the same RtII period.
Submitted by Philly Teacher (not verified) on December 8, 2012 4:05 pm
Which school? Is it a prep period? There is nothing in high schools and I assume many K-8.
Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on December 8, 2012 5:51 pm
It's an elementary school. It's not a prep period. It's a period devoted to doing interventions. So everyone does their RtII at the same time. This allows for special ed kids to do interventions in the special ed room.
Submitted by Phila. Teacher (not verified) on December 8, 2012 2:19 am
RtII is also part of the Orwellian speak we inherited from Vallas and Ackerman. The "go to" person in the school is the "RtII Champion." While I understand this article is the result of the reporter attending a School District sponsored event, before being published, the reporter should investigate rather than accepting the School District line. There are intelligent teachers in the School District who could show you the web site, "direction" from 440, comment on the training, etc.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 8, 2012 7:01 am
What's your solution to the problems? A solution that has real merit and could make a difference. The public sees teachers as part of the problem partially because all that ever happens on sites like this is complaining about administrators, students and parents.
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on December 8, 2012 9:47 am
Back in the day, they talked about remote problems and immediate problems. The remote problem here is racism. The immediate problem is misbehaving students who STOP instruction to the other kids. Until those 12%--15% are REMOVED, nothing will really change. The racism piece will end over time but not soon enough.
Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on December 8, 2012 4:32 pm
I see the huge problem that a small number of students creates for the majority. At the same time, it is difficult to remove these students because there is a due process. There has to be documentation. For special ed students, there may be a manifestation determination hearing. Isn't this protection of students similar to the protections that teachers have with tenure? Some argue that it's too hard to remove difficult students. Some would also argue that it's too hard to remove ineffective teachers. I'm just trying to play devil's advocate here. Just as I've seen out of control students, I've seen teachers who should not be in the classroom. While student teaching at an SDP school, I saw the worst sub I have ever seen. He would repeatedly demean students, like saying "ha ha" to a student who I required to stay after school with me because he was messing around while I tried to teach him. He ridiculed Muslim students who wore the hijab but talked back to him as having "no religion." This sub at times would teach a lesson without writing anything on the board. There was also a regular ed teacher who had no classroom management. Every day when she took her students to the bathroom, her students were loud in the halls, so much so that on most days, it disrupted my instruction. I passed by her class and sometimes, there were students in the corner chit chatting or even fighting with each other. And this is at a school where the principal was a good principal who supported and respected teachers, took their input, and collaborated with them. And the teachers liked the principal.
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on December 8, 2012 5:32 pm
No, it's a very poor comparison. That sub shouldn't have been there, of course. However, in 34 years of education at every level, I have seen no more than 7 teachers who were 'bad." Not everybody is going to be a clone so let's not confuse style with substance. I'm speaking about 15% of the kids in almost every district school over many, many years. Yes, we do need justice.............for all. That 12-15% should not be controlling the school environment for everybody else, holding the whole place hostage all day every day. You simply can't succeed that way.
Submitted by Philly Teacher (not verified) on December 8, 2012 6:17 pm
Aspira at Stetson and Olney and Mastery at Gratz (and possibly other schools) have "success academies" which move the more "difficult students" out of the general school environment. I believe Mastery contracts out for Gratz. So, this would address your 12 - 15% of students who make life difficult for everyone else.
Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on December 12, 2012 8:22 pm
Where is your specific evidence or documentation of this? Did you see this first hand, the moving out of the difficult students?
Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on December 8, 2012 10:33 am
RtII is not a solution - it is another way to collect "data." If the School District administration wants to assist students who need academic, social / behavioral, and attendance help, they should have teachers develop school based programs. Level 1 of RtII are instructional strategies - nothing new. We need to continuously find ways to support student learning and engagement / interest (which is different from "achievement" or test prep.) We also need community supports for students who need social / behavioral supports which can range from basic social services to psychological assistance. To date, teachers are to focus on instruction - not the attendance and behavioral components of the program. The weakest component is the instructional component. The instructional component is a long list of "programs" (e.g. purchased from companies) for reading (and next year math). Either the programs aren't available, can't be done in a single classroom, require additional staff, etc. It might look "nice on paper" but it isn't going to happen without additional staff. There also has to be a "RtII Champion" (that is the title) in every school to monitor and assist teachers. This is another example of a poorly planned and implemented program by the School District. Again, a solution should be school based. Ask teachers to identify students who are in need of academic, behavioral, social and attendance assistance. Let us develop plans BUT also provide enough staff to make this happen. Our staffs have been cut to the bone. School nurses? librarians? Staff to follow up on truant students? School psychologists? Social workers? Time for teachers to co-plan with colleagues? Mastery Corporation has these school based services. Why don't District schools?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 8, 2012 12:47 pm
Teachers have frequently offered solutions to various problems brought up. The complaining is part of a problem of a school district that is so arrogant they think teachers have nothing to tell them in terms of how to run things. If you had to deal daily with insults, absurd workloads and tasks, constant behavior problems and having your materials (which you supply because the district can't/won't) stolen or broken then you would be complaining. The people who blame teachers for the system, which we do NOT run, are going to do so any way, regardless of whether or not teachers are complaining. Want to cut down on complaining teachers? Try listening to them for once.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 8, 2012 11:20 am
Just like its incompetent parent, the CSAP process, RTII is yet another example of how the Philadelphia School District is shirking it's responsibility to discipline behavior probems and address special ed issues that they no longer want to spend money on. Parents wake up, there is no way overworked teachers can address special needs while watching an entire class by themselves. Only a lawyer would come up with something so stupid. The implementation is a good example of the administration failing everyone in its path. Both the CSAP and RTII processes are spelled the same way, C.R.A.P.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 8, 2012 2:57 pm
RTI requires way more flexibility and staff than most schools have. There needs to be time for students to have interventions delivered to them and the staff to deliver it. If all the teachers are already teaching 5 periods who is going to pull kids out for a mathematics intervention?
Submitted by RogueTeacher (not verified) on December 8, 2012 4:41 pm
My school has a designated RTII time of 25 minutes per day. So, that really means about 15 minutes when you get down to actual instruction time after all the transitioning between classrooms. The students who are targeted are the lowest performing students in reading and math, with the primary focus on math. Students with an IEP who already receive daily special education instructional support are pulled out to their respective special education teachers' classrooms. ESOL students, entering and beginning, go to the ESOL teacher. Note, teacher, not teachers, so this is a problem as well. We do not have any of the interventions listed on the SDP's system for RTII, so we improvise with the Trophies intervention curriculum, or self-provided/created materials if & when issues pop up in the intervention time. What else are we to do? To me, it seems no different than what I was doing with small group instruction except now it has to be documented in the system which is not user friendly, and currently impossible to update due to not having interventions matching within the system. For now, I record on a paper. Document, document, document, right? The thing that bothers me is that I believe in quality education for all students. Equal time for all students. RTII is set up to focus only on the lowest performing students. What about those students who are at/on grade level or above? They get pushed aside, as usual. Why more of the responsibility is not put on the families is beyond me. I'm tired of it. I'm tired of focusing on students who are 2-3 grade levels behind, some who are just being identified as having struggles. That's an internal problem, common in too many SDP schools. I'm tired of leaving behind the other kids, they deserve a chance to be pushed ahead as well. We do not have a truly effective gifted program in place, so that is not an option.
Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on December 9, 2012 10:25 pm
RogueTeacher, It seems that the emphasis on standardized testing exacerbates the situation for students who need a challenge. Because these students are already "Proficient" or "Advanced," they receive less focus than those who are in the middle and its possible to move up from "Basic" to "Proficient." EGS
Submitted by RogueTeacher (not verified) on December 10, 2012 5:02 pm
EGS, That is exactly it, as most teachers have discussed and complained about in my 9 years of teaching experience, but it does not mean it is right. I've even been told that those students can work on their own, so leave them be. But, when we introduce new material, challenging material, how can they work alone all the time like that? I wish more teachers & parents would speak out and collectively join forces within the school to take a stand against what we are forced to do. If teachers don't start making changes, together, then things are not going to change. I think a lot of teachers are going to regret sitting on the sidelines after the next contract negotiation. We are way behind where the Chicago teachers' union was at this point in their fight, and though they fought long and hard, their contract isn't the greatest. This is all a part of it.
Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on December 12, 2012 7:04 pm
One option is to encourage parents to request an evaluation for mental giftedness. MG at least would ensure that, by law, the school has to challenge the student.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on December 11, 2012 10:50 am
Good conversation -- very interesting and on point. The most important concept in the teaching of reading is that of "instructional level" and "instructional range." To increase reading ability, students must be instructed by a teacher at their instructional levels for real growth in reading ability. Reading is not a "set of isolated skills." It is "an ability" that grows over time just like any other ability. Disabled and deficient readers need instruction designed to meet their individual needs every day for at least one half hour to 45 minutes. No matter how we argue, we can never get away from the "homogeneous vs. heterogeneous" argument. Every student needs "instruction to the student's highest level of challenge commensurate with ability." That is why we have always had challenging courses designed for those above grade level, and remedial classes. Back in the day when we had real reading programs for disabled readers in every school, our Reading class size was limited to a maximum of 20 students. I taught dyslexic students in classes of 10 students. It is impossible to meet those students' needs in a homogeneous class. As students age, the range of levels in regular classes grows. English teachers, which I also was, do projects and create assignments which are at a variety of instructional levels. But that is not a cure for dyslexia or reading deficiencies. Every gain for those students comes with struggle and they need a helping hand constantly. Any school can provide small group instruction and challenging courses. But we are stuck in the "lock step syndrome." My view is that most classes should be heterogenous, especially in content areas. But both challenging and remedial courses should be part of many students' programs. But the reality is, which the non teachers do not want to understand, that students who struggle with disability will struggle whether they are in heterogeneous classes or homogeneous classes. They will also still struggle if they are put in a school with "high performing seats." The problem is not in "the seat" or the "teacher of the seat." The disability is within the psycho-cognitive growth of the student's mind. If we put a student in a seat at Masterman who has dyslexia, the student will still always be dyslexic. And they will still always be below the norm in reading, although they may still be at or above the norm in intelligence, knowledge and "hearing capacity."
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 8, 2012 10:20 pm
RTII= CYA to the nth degree.
Submitted by Robin (not verified) on December 9, 2012 2:32 pm
I got more out of reading the Wikipedia page for RTI than I ever have from a district PD. RTI is a national notion, not a District, or previous Super generated one, although that does not mean that Philly won't have it's own version of the roll-out. Today is my "don't be cynical day" so I won't go on about the roll out, except to say it has been so full of fits and starts that no wonder staff members don't see it as anything other than reinventing the wheel. Every school seems to interpret it and apply it differently, just like so many other things in the schools.
Submitted by Poogie (not verified) on December 9, 2012 5:19 pm
Both programs CSAP and RTIIhave the best intention and when implemented in a school with an involved functional community they work to an extent. But they are not designed for the inner city where a huge portion of the kids come from dysfunctional families who do nothing to correct behavior that is way off the chart. These programs are designed for schools where maybe 2-3% of the students are dysfunctional. Unfortunately in my community High School 40-50% of the kids are chronically late to school or simply truant. There is almost no parental interest so there is not help in reforming bad behavior. None of these programs work because the parents are dysfunctional and so our the children they send into school. Until we reform the society in the community that produces these kids you can change the acronyms every few years but nothing is going to work when so many student are acting up they overwhelm the system,
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 11, 2012 9:31 am
Unfortunately, the district is "replacing" CSAP with RtII, when it should be adding RtII to an already functioning CSAP and scaling up the entire process. Why get rid of something that works when implemented with fidelity? There in lies the elephant in the living room: the district historically HAS NEVER implemented CSAP as it was intended. The "gold" of SAP is its linkage with larger systems of care in the community. Philadelphia has traditionally had assessors, but never had a single behavioral health liaison that worked with a school CSAP team on a weekly basis. Look at Pittsburgh City Schools: they have functional SAP teams in most schools as well as site-based mental health clinics so that children and families can get to help early.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 11, 2012 6:51 pm
When did the CSAP process EVER work? It's been a failure since day one. I never had a single childre ever get any help. With the RTII process the school district is trying to push off their reponsibilities onto the teachers, once again. Every year teachers were expected to waste more time writing up children who had been written up the year before. It became such a joke that the state had to come up with a new scam, RTII, because everyone knew the CSAP process was a load of crap.

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