Sometimes, it takes 3 times

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Andalusia Elementary School kindergarten teacher Betty Holmes was busy preparing her classroom for the start of the second semester today.

It’s been said that the third time is a charm.

Today, teachers in the Andalusia City School system will be using a program designed specifically to meet the individual learning needs of students – even if it takes three times.

The program, called Response to Intervention, is based on looking at the needs of an individual student and how it might best benefit that student.

Taylor said monitoring students’ progress isn’t a new concept for AES.

“It’s something we’ve already been doing,” she said. “We’re kind of in that mode to have groups and to look at kids. RTI is a new term from the state department. We’ve stepped it up in how we are using our data. And through it we can assess the students to see if they are getting what we are teaching. We can also use it to develop a program for the student.”

Taylor said RTI encourages schools to consider how they are monitoring students’ progress.

“It challenges us to ask ‘how are we making sure they are making progress,” she said. “Every school has an RTI model, but how they are meeting it will look a little different because its’ a different age group.”

The program is based on what educators call the 80-15-5 model, said Taylor.

“What that means is that 80 percent of the students will get the materials the first time. They’re what we call our tier 1 or basic instruction students,” she said. “Then we have our tier 2 students, which are 15 percent of the students who need a second dose of the materials.”

Taylor said that may mean utilizing small group instruction, the use of technology or peer grouping.

“Then we have our tier 3, in which about 5 percent of students didn’t get it the first or second time,” she said. “We’re teaching the same materials just in a different manner.”

Taylor said it often involves looking at a child’s learning style.

“Some are auditory learners and some are tactical learners,” she said. “We all learn in different manners, and this program is all about figuring out what the student needs to get the material.”

Taylor said another benefit is that RTI increases parent-teacher conferences.

“Parent involvement is something we strive for,” she said. “We feel it’s a team approach. We all want the same thing – the child to be successful.”