A case study of implementing response to intervention in high school
Many secondary schools pride themselves on having a rigorous academic program for all students. These same schools are excited to share how their students have become more socially responsible after graduation. In fact, many schools provide both ideologies in their mission statements and plaster it throughout their buildings, websites, publications, and letterhead. But what secondary schools should be asking and answering is: how do their teams respond when students do not master the material? Schools that successfully provide student intervention and support student mastery at every level of content attainment should celebrate and promote this product of student growth. Studies, mostly in elementary schools, highlight that well-implemented response to intervention, or RTI, processes include the following: formation of intervention teams, development of a universal screening process, continual monitoring of students for progress, and use of evidence-based interventions. Previous studies on RTI in secondary school settings have shown some success with reading and math interventions, but various barriers to implementation also existed and were minimally discussed. Seeking to add to the growing body of RTI literature in a high school setting, this qualitative case study explored to what degree the essential elements of response to intervention, or RTI, were implemented in Aspen Time, one high school’s uniquely designed, daily, 30- minute, student intervention period. Data collection included document review, focus groups, interviews and observations of Aspen Time. Analyses found four barriers to implementation (scheduling/structure, curriculum issues, fidelity, and staff capacity/professional development) and offered recommendations for high schools on RTI implementation.