Overview of Response to Intervention (RtI) for Pre-K
Response to Intervention approaches for young children are emerging across the country (Coleman, Buysse, & Neitzel, 2006; Coleman, Roth & West, 2009; VanDerHeyden & Snyder, 2006; VanDerHeyden, Witt, & Barnett, 2005). The components of a Pre-K RtI approach include: (1) tiered framework for supports and services; (2) screening, progress monitoring, and comprehensive assessment); (3) effective core curriculum, instruction, and focused interventions; and (4) collaborative problem-solving, with strong parent involvement, to support sound instructional decision-making. Each component will be briefly discussed below.
RtI Tiered Framework for Supports and Services
RtI is most often organized into three tiers designed to recognize children’s needs and provide high quality instruction in response to these needs. Tier 1 is general, high quality, early childhood programming for all children. In Tiers 2 and 3, enhanced instruction is provided for children who are not meeting learning expectations with the general early childhood (Tier 1) experiences. These children may need more frequent and intensive support to meet with success. Teachers and other professionals may have to provide small group or individual instruction targeted at specific needs. In RtI, instructional strategies are arranged from the least to the most intensive to reflect how directive and involved an adult should be to help children meet with success.
Screening, Progress Monitoring, and Comprehensive Assessment
RtI provides a system for linking assessment results with instructional approaches. Universal screening for all children quickly identifies children who may need additional supports to meet with success. Progress monitoring allows teachers and other professionals to follow the child’s learning and adjust support as needed to help ensure the child’s success. Through screening and progress monitoring, it may be found that some children will need additional support for learning that goes beyond a general high quality early childhood environment (Tier 1); these are children who will require more focused instructional support (Tier 2). Ongoing progress monitoring is used to assess children’s responses to Tier 2 instruction and to make decisions about whether more or less intensive support is needed (i.e., whether to proceed to more individualized or intensive Tier 3 or return to Tier 1 instruction only). When concerns about a child are significant, a comprehensive assessment or formal evaluation should be considered.
Effective Core Curriculum, Instruction, and Focused Interventions
The RtI framework is built on a quality learning environment (Tier 1) that uses effective core curriculum and instructional practices. However, because some children will need additional support to be successful, RtI also includes focused intervention at Tier’s 2 and 3. The need for focused intervention is determined through screening, progress monitoring, and comprehensive assessments, and the child is matched to the level and type of support that will optimize his or her success. A collaborative problem solving process is used in decision making about how a child’s needs should be addressed.
This problem-solving process is used by teachers, parents, and specialists to make informed decisions about teaching practice, to choose beneficial instructional strategies for individual children, to evaluate the effectiveness of supports for individual children, and to determine if further assessments are needed to inform instruction or to support decisions about eligibility for special educational services. Central to the collaborative problem-solving process is the linking of assessment data (including screening and progress-monitoring) with instructional strategies. Assessments inform instruction, creating a dynamic link between recognition of a child’s needs and an educational response to meet those needs. This process should reflect the changing needs of young children as they develop. The ELORS facilitates problem-solving conversations anchored in shared observations of actual behaviors in naturalistic settings.
Four key tasks are involved in the collaborative problem-solving process:
- defining the problem (What is the problem?),
- analyzing the information gathered (Why is it happening?),
- developing a plan (What are we going to do about it?), and
- evaluating the response to the intervention (Did our intervention work?)
Teachers should encourage parents to take an active role in the problem-solving process because the information they contribute is critical to addressing the child’s needs.
Using the ELORS within an RtI Framework
The ELORS can be used across all tiers within an RtI framework. The Whole Class ELORS is used in Tier 1 to help recognize children who may be in need of additional support. The Individual Child ELORS can then be used in Tier 2 to document specific concerns and needs that can inform instructional planning. The Individual Child ELORS may continue to be useful in Tier 3 as the teacher monitors the child’s development across all seven developmental domains.
The ELORS is particularly useful because the Parent-Individual Child Form can facilitate the parent’s involvement as a member of a collaborative problem solving team. The ELORS informs the collaborative problem-solving process by providing concrete information that can be used in planning to address student needs. Having both teacher and parent versions of the ELORS helps facilitate communication among parents and professionals.
The ELORS frames a set of talking points that help to structure conversations about a child’s status on critical domains where additional support may be needed. The ELORS also allows individuals, including parents and teachers, to share meaningful and valuable information centered on the same domains of development and learning from varying perspectives. The parent’s perspective is purposely sought in these conversations to help ensure that the parent’s voice will be heard and considered in the instructional planning process.
Data and observation from the ELORS are valuable additions to a child early learning profile. Other pieces of information might include samples of the child’s work and results of domain-specific measures like the Individual Growth and Development Indicators, which can complement and extend the information provided by systematic observations on the ELORS.
Resources for Pre-K RtI
Response to Intervention
Early Childhood Program Standards related to Assessment & Curriculum
General Outcome Measures
Curricula and Instructional Approaches Validated through Research for Use with Pre-kindergarten Children
RtI for Pre-K