“This is a unique group,” stated George Batsche to the educators gathered for the January meeting of Leaders Associates. “The chasm between university and school programs is usually not bridged.”

Leaders Associates brings educators together twice each year to discuss issues related to teacher preparation and public schools. The theme for the January 2010 meeting was Responding to Data about Student Performance. Participants included BYU faculty and administrators, as well as K-12 administrators and teachers from the five districts that comprise the BYU-Public School Partnership.

Dr. Batsche, a professor of Psychological and Social Foundations at the University of South Florida, presented on response to intervention (RTI), an initiative that uses data to inform teaching. “Data will set you free,” quipped Batsche. He described RTI as a problem solving mechanism, adding the following statements:

  • RTI is a frame for integrating practices of schooling.
  • RTI is not an initiative.
  • RTI helps get rid of stuff that isn’t working.
  • RTI frequently uses data to ask, “Is what we are doing working?”
  • RTI analyzes new work.
  • RTI is not a new instructional practice.
  • RTI lets teachers use data to inform teaching before kids get too far behind.
  • RTI is based on the return on investment model.
  • RTI is based on problem solving.

Batsche referred to minutes as the currency of RTI.  However, he added a qualifier: the number of minutes a student receives quality instruction. He also explained that positive behavior support and professional learning communities, both currently researched and implemented by the McKay School, are aligned perfectly to RTI.  Both models ask questions that can also be interactive with RTI. They are “What do we want to teach students?” “How will we know they learn that material?” and “What will we do if the student does not learn the material?”

To address the issue of giving students enough quality instructional time, Batsche spoke extensively about changing school schedules, even for secondary schools. “There is no time to differentiate instruction in 50-minute periods,” he said. Batsche also suggested that all support personnel be assigned to students needing extra instruction. “We have two kinds of teachers in our [Florida] schools: general educators and everybody else. [My schools] assign everybody else to needs.”

According to Batsche, there are only three obstacles to RTI success: lack of resources, lack of training, and lack of data. He shared many tools with his audience, including a Self-Assessment of Problem Solving, a Perception of RTI Skills Survey, and an RTI coach job description.  For more information about RTI, please click here.

Other presenters and their topics were Judy Park, Utah state associate superintendent presenting on state initiatives to use data, and Iron County School District superintendent Jim Johnson and his associate Dr. Shannon Dulaney, who presented on implementing RTI in their district.

The Center for the Improvement of Teacher Education and Schooling (CITES) facilitates the Leaders Associates meetings as part of its responsibility to support the efforts of the BYU-Public School Partnership and the BYU McKay School of Education.

Slides and handouts from the meetings are posted here.

15 February 2010