By Jerre Maynor, Director of Student Readiness
Ensuring that students get the academic support they need when they need it is the intent of the state’s Response to Instruction and Intervention (RTI2) framework. The RTI2 framework began official implementation for high schools beginning in the 2016–17 school year. As we approach the conclusion of the first year of full implementation, it’s a great time to highlight early wins and what educators are learning along the way. In this four part series, we spotlight promising practices found in Tennessee high schools.
Rhea County: intentional growth through intervention
Veteran teacher Richard Daugherty is the head and the heart behind RTI2 at Rhea County High School (RCHS). Mr. Daugherty, who has taught in the district for 43 years, brings equal parts passion and expertise to his role as a literacy educator. Over his career, he has taught English, English as a second language, German, and Spanish. As a result, Mr. Daugherty was a natural leader and peer mentor when it came to implementing a strong intervention program for struggling readers. “Mr. Daugherty is our on-campus expert and peer coach,” says Heather Jewell, assistant principal and lead RTI2 administrator at RCHS.
As a beloved and respected teacher, Mr. Daugherty set the tone for what the environment of intervention classes would be. “We were intentional about ensuring that we would create a space that is warm, welcoming, and kind. We never discuss a student being there because he/she is ‘low’; we only talk about growth.” Mrs. Jewell, a former English teacher, also teaches an intervention class. She notes how students have reacted to the positive tone and growth mindset in their intervention courses:
“As soon as we progress monitor, students are asking, ‘Have I grown?’ And when they see their results, they can rationalize why they did or did not grow. Analyzing data in a real life scenario is equipping them to be able to make sense of standardized testing results and other figures in their lives.”
Effective intervention is a team effort shared by interventionists, students, parents, and Tier I teachers. Every 4–5 weeks, parents receive encouragement and congratulations with positive progress reports or specific recommendations for reports that show declines. When students struggle in Tier I, teachers are now ask Mr. Daugherty and Mrs. Jewell to look at RTI2 data so they can consider how to better differentiate material. Teachers are starting to note that it is apparent to them who is receiving intervention; they are seeing clear differences in the students’ ability to access Tier I content. So far, the collaborative efforts of RCHS are working: 60 students have transitioned from Tier II intervention back into Tier I and Mrs. Jewell notes that interventionists have grown into their new roles as reading teachers. “Each intervention class feels like a little family and we do our own things to celebrate growth and acknowledge the students.”
For more information about RTI2 at Rhea County High School, you can contact Heather Jewell at firstname.lastname@example.org