I am a huge advocate for the RTI process - if done correctly. Since this is a fairly new concept there are times it's just not done the way it should be. Here's the difficult part. You are asking people who are coming from a passion for children to tap into their inner scientist to help kids. I've been amazed to learn that not every one has an inner scientist. It makes the whole RTI thing not fun nor easy.
The reason I blog on this today is that yesterday we had an RTI Tier 3 meeting for Z. Of course people asked how it went and all I could say was that it was the most professional meeting we've been to yet. Keep in mind that we attended an RTI meeting about every 4 - 6 weeks last year for Z. Many times I left there thinking "Are you really that stupid? Do you not see the data in front of your face? It's YOUR data!!!!! No matter how much you hate me pushing you to do the right thing - it's YOUR data!!!! I had nothing to do with it!" I know that the school thinks we're one of "those parents" but really we're data driven parents. We just look at what the school provided, and then had follow up questions. Originally the questions were legitimate needing to know questions. Then the more we were given the run around because the school couldn't answer them the more we did research before talking to the school. Questions came in hopes that you would come to a reasonable conclusion. Data showed in October 2009 that Z had difficulties in reading fluency. We were told by the school for the whole year that he did not have difficulty in reading fluency, but that he had a behavior problem. Through out the RTI process data showed difficulty in reading fluency and that behavior was controlled through certain interventions. My guess is that if they went back to look at when the behaviors happened they would see that they were clustered with reading or writing, but that would mean accessing their inner scientist.
So yesterday was the RTI Tier 3 meeting for Z. Finally someones inner scientist came out. They reviewed previous goals, end of year data on the reading goal. I didn't ask about end of year data on behavior because they didn't have it. They sent home all the progress monitoring tools we had put in place for behavior, and all the meetings last year were pointless in this area. The data showed success, but the staff kept saying no progress in this area. No matter how often we asked them to look at that act they just insisted that there was no progress.
After review of end of year data, they asked if concerns persisted, and acknowledged that they concerns persisted from our view point. Quite obvious that they did we asked for a REED in August. Then they looked at data collected this year so far. I was so happy to hear that Z has maintained his reading level since the end of last year. Tutoring 3 times a week for reading fluency has paid off since there was no regression. The school expressed that they expected regression. The teacher did a great job of explaining that Z is in the independent level, but barely. That's consistent from the previous years reading assessments - "at risk". New goals were established for reading and behavior "in case he stays at tier 3".
I almost caved and said "If you can develop a plan to meet his needs in 504 lets hear it." but I thought better of that. I've looked at the school data and the testing we had completed by an independent party. There is just too much there to be reasonably covered in a 504. It definitely would not be in Z's best interest to fall under 504.
So yesterday's meeting was neither a win or loss for either party, but it was. It was something they felt had to be done (it didn't), and it kept the reality of the situation in the front of everyone's mind. We were highly impressed by the 3rd grade teacher. She has her data collected, a plan in place for future data collection, targeted intervention plans in place, made a relationship with Z, and even picked up on his little quirk that displays his anxiety level. She's even been responding to it. She is a great teacher and we're highly impressed. Having to go through this process we are glad to have her on the team.