California Department of Education
Taking Center Stage – Act II
The Response to Intervention (RtI) model provides districts and schools with a useful tool for helping all subgroups of underperforming students to achieve.
RtI is a monitoring system recommended under the reauthorization of the federal Building the Legacy: IDEA 2004—Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (Outside Source). Although originally designed for special education, RtI provides a practical model for continuous progress monitoring, carefully tailored instruction, and frequent, accelerated interventions that move students on a strategic path to success. RtI can help teachers determine if students are learning as expected, or if not, whether they require early intervention services. It can also help teachers determine student eligibility for special education services. A more detailed discussion about the instruction and intervention aspect of RtI can be found at Response to Instruction and Intervention RTI2, Recommendation 2—Instruction, Assessment, and Intervention, TCSII.
The intent of universal access is to meet the needs of all students, including English Lanaguage Learners (ELL), with reading difficulties, students with disabilities, and advanced learners. All SBE-adopted programs have been designed with additional ancillary materials that are to be used with and beyond the basic program that include extra support for struggling readers and ELL.1 In cases where students have processing difficulties (e.g., auditory discrimination input difficulties) or lack specific academic vocabulary, as in the case of many new immigrants and bilingual students, lectures and auditory discussions will not provide equal access. These types of instructional methods must be supplemented with multiple support strategies. For example, teachers can use realia and flash cards to reinforce vocabulary, slide shows, hands-on materials, and aides or tutors to help students learn the material.
Alvarado Intermediate School, Rowland Unified School District, a 2004 Schools to Watch™-Taking Center Stage Model School
At Alvarado, frequent inter- and intra- team communications reinforce a schoolwide commitment to students with special needs. Alvarado's Special Day Class students receive the same core curriculum as their peers receive and are mainstreamed into physical education and elective classes. According to their individualized education programs (IEPs), resource specialist program (RSP) students receive an extra period of instruction by a credentialed teacher in reading, writing, mathematics, study/organizational skills, or life skills.
It is not possible to address all special needs through differentiated instruction within the classroom with a single teacher. Effective schools also give teachers access to specialists, Student Intervention Teams (better known as Student Success Teams or Student Study Teams [SST]), tutoring centers, and specialized classes so that no child is left behind.
Iron Horse Middle School, San Ramon Valley Unified School District
Special education students receive appropriate instruction in this developmentally responsive school that has received recognition through both the Distinguished School and National Blue Ribbon school programs.
Many resources are available to help teachers provide grade-level, standards-based instruction for students with disabilities or special needs. The Calfornia Department of Education Web site includes matrices for Testing Variations, Accommodations, and Modifications (DOC; 2.2MB; 6pp.) 2010.
Teaching Student with Special Needs
Least Restrictive Environment
1Academic Program Survey—Middle School Level. Sacramento: California Department of Education, October 2009.
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California Department of Education
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Sacramento, CA 95814