Monday, June 28, 2010

RTI in the Country

We are in upstate New York this week, at the invitation of the Madison-Oneida BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services), where Dr. Paul Yellin and one of our Learning Specialists are doing a week long training of educators and staff from the Hamilton Central Schools and neighboring districts. The training, over the course of five days, is part of the work these forward looking schools are doing to implement an important provision of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act -- something called RTI (Response to Intervention).

RTI is not a new concept. Teachers have always looked at how their students were performing and modified their teaching approaches accordingly. What is new is the move to use RTI to replace the old model of how children were determined to either have a learning disability -- or not. RTI involves using several different tiers of consideration when students are struggling. A good explanation of the legal background of RTI and how it is implemented can be found on the Wrightslaw website.

The most common model for RTI is to have a three tier process for deciding how to instruct students. And that is where the Yellin Center team comes in. Our clinicians are working with the Hamilton area educators to build on their knowledge of the various neurodevelopmental constructs that are involved in learning. Many of the educators have already had instruction from All Kinds of Minds which looks at these areas as they apply to classrooms. The first tier of RTI has been described as requiring good basic teaching, which is flexible to meet the needs of all students. Some students will still struggle, even if the classroom teacher tries to shape the curriculum to their specific learning needs. These students may need assessment from a school based team with particular expertise, to determine if they need further supports beyond those the classroom teacher can provide. Most students who need this additional support will respond well and will need no further intervention. However, a few students may continue to struggle, even when they are provided with scientifically proven strategies. For these students, a comprehensive assessment of their learning needs and the development of detailed learning strategies will be needed to help them succeed.

In addition to the general instruction they will be providing to a number of educators, The Yellin Center team will conduct three complete comprehensive multi-disciplinary assessments of students of various ages selected by the Hamilton Central School District, in which the school district psychologist and learning specialist will participate. By working hand-in-hand with our clinical team, these individuals will learn how to apply their knowledge and how to handle all but the most complex learning difficulties within their own district.

By the way, the Yellin Center will be in full operation, even as part of our team is involved in this exciting training process. Our other clinicians and our full administrative staff will be here all week for regular appointments and inquiries.

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