Award-winning Georgia school fills Response to Intervention gaps
The buzzword these days seems to be RTI—Response to Intervention—as six states have set precedence and adopted research-based RTI strategies to determine whether or not a student has a learning disability. Now schools nationwide are following suit, busily constructing their own plans to ensure that each child receives the help they need to succeed.
In preparation for Georgia’s mandated RTI rollout for the 2008-09 school year, Denise Simpson, assistant principal at Buford Elementary, a Georgia School of Excellence and Title I Distinguished School, had a few gaps to fill in her K-1st grade school’s RTI framework.
Located 35 miles northeast of Atlanta, this certified Reading Master School was already well versed in Renaissance programs, so adding Renaissance MathFacts in a Flash® and Renaissance English in a Flash® to round out its RTI program was an obvious choice.
Our teachers are doing a wonderful job of using the programs that we have at each Tier. Our primary focus is to ensure that every child is inspired to achieve and succeed, and for all children to reach their optimal learning potential.
“I had just been given the task of finding more Tier 2 research-based programs, when our Renaissance Education Consultant visited our school,” Simpson said. “I saw English in a Flash listed as a Tier 2 researched-based program.”
Simpson and a group of teachers attended a professional development session in nearby Atlanta soon afterward. “We all fell in love with the software immediately,” she said. “It is exactly what we needed for our students who need help with English language acquisition.”
The need for a strong Tier 2 program to enhance Buford’s language arts curriculum was essential, due to their high number of English language learners. “Thirty-six percent of our total population is Hispanic, so many of our students’ parents do not speak English and are not able to read with their children at home.”
Buford also included MathFacts in a Flash to complete their Tier 2 intervention plans. “We have just started using MathFacts in a Flash—the children love it! I have already seen students making dramatic gains.”
Before Georgia mandated the RTI program, Buford was already using several Renaissance products, including Renaissance Accelerated Reader®, Renaissance Star Reading®, Renaissance Star Early Literacy®, Renaissance Accelerated Math®, and Renaissance Star Math®—all of which can be used for the RTI framework.
“Our differentiated curriculum is designed for each individual student to ensure that each child gains the knowledge, values, and skills necessary to become productive, life-long learners,” she said.
Buford receives Title I funds, which can be used to purchase programs for its RTI framework. Schools can also use up to 15% of its Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) funds for RTI programs that include all students, not just special education students.
This will be the first full year that Buford Elementary will be using the RTI process, and Simpson is excited to see everything falling into place. “I personally think RTI is going to be wonderful,” she said. “Our teachers are doing a wonderful job of using the programs that we have at each Tier. Our primary focus is to ensure that every child is inspired to achieve and succeed, and for all children to reach their optimal learning potential.”