RTI & EDUCATE Alabama
It has been a while since I took the time to blog. Better yet it has been a while since I have had the time to blog but a new approach that we are utilizing in Alabama is worth sharing. Actually, there are two new approaches worthy of mentioning. First, we are now in the process of Implementing RTI or Response to Instruction not to be confused with its predecessor RTI or Response to Intervention. The second approach that we are in the process of Implementing is EDUCATE Alabama. I’m not really that proud of the name but the program does have merit. EDUCATE Alabama is the replacement of the former teacher evaluation process called PEPE. PEPE isn’t a little mule, although some may claim that it had some of the same attributes as a little burro. PEPE stood for Professional Education Personnel Evaluation Program. Part of PEPE is still being used as EDUCATE Alabama takes its place among the evaluation programs but seeks not to evaluate so much as to educate and improve teaching methods.
The great thing about RTI and EDUCATE Alabama is that they both tie together and attempt to improve classroom instruction. In our fast paced 21 century with jobs changing daily both of these programs seem to have a great deal of merit for Alabama educators and students. I attended my first RTI meeting last week due to numerous circumstances and what I came away with was “Student Engagement.” As educators we have and must find creative ways to engage our students in productive learning.
RTI is also about reading and other curricula but as I see it is primarily about engaging students and making them think about the learning process. It is beyond rote memorization and more about problem solving for all students with special emphasis on special populations. The essential components of RTI have to be the three tiers of instruction. Tier One takes into account around 80 to 90 percent of all students. Tier Two takes into account 5 to 10 percent of all students. And Tier Three takes into account 1 to 5 percent of students. In laymen terms Tier One accounts for “What students get from instruction.” Tier Two accounts for students that need a little extra push or “addition focus and intensity.” Tier Three accounts for students that require a great deal of help or “modification of instructional strategies.” All of the tiers require administrators and educators to evaluate students individually and to modify teaching methods accordingly.
EDUCATE Alabama ties into the equation by helping educators understand their current teaching practices. It doesn’t evaluate them with numbers but rather focuses on where they are from an educational standpoint. Is a teacher Emerging, Applying, Integrating, or Innovating in their educational practice? Most average teachers will fall in the Applying range and will have to work on their teaching strategies to reach the Integrating or Innovating ranges. The interesting thing about the process is that it focuses on improving teaching and not just writing down a score. As I see it, RTI will help teachers reach improved levels of instruction which should improve student engagement and learning across the board.
At the Center of Technology we are and have been implementing programs that engage all of our students and we have used some tier instruction. As such, we welcome these processes and look forward to utilizing them within our current programs of study. The key for me is to learn as much as I can about each of these programs so I can help educators do a better job in the classroom. This is the only way that we will be able to supply the workforce of tomorrow. Much of this can and is being accomplished through new innovative 21st Century Technologies. Seldom do I enter a classroom in our school system that the teacher isn’t utilizing technology. Unfortunately, not all teachers have the same ability to utilize technology or care enough about the technology to apply it to their lessons in a meaningful way. This is something that all of the administrators must help with as we move forward not only with RTI and EDUCATE Alabama, but also with technology.
William “Bill” Bishop AKA LostJohns