Saturday, March 19, 2016

Intervention Decisions

Purveyors of digital intervention programs often have beautifully illustrated data packets that show the effectiveness of their program as applied in particular school districts. Districts can be lured into purchasing these programs in their efforts to raise test scores. Districts need to be very careful when considering which program to purchase.

A few things to consider

1.  Cost to implement including hidden costs such as loss of effective teaching
2.  Technology needs and costs-devices and infrastructure
3.  Comparing apples to apples regarding data

The cost to implement a new program often appears to be clear.  The required professional development may not be included, or what is provided may not be sufficient to appropriately train teachers to use the program. An additional cost is the time lost for effective teaching While a program may be able to diagnose a student's level, it may not be able to provide the instruction necessary to bring that same student to grade level.

A secondary issue involves the infrastructure necessary to run the digital program. The specifications need to be read by and considered by an IT specialist. The data demands of all students using a digital platform may be more than a school can currently provide. The cost to upgrade devices and infrastructure must be clear to decision makers.

Finally, when considering those as mentioned above beautifully illustrated data packets, districts must compare apples to apples. If a student grows 136% BUT is still not on grade level, decision makers need to understand that this may be considered normal growth and the student may well have grown more working with a teacher or in a smaller class size.  Research on RTI published this fall showed that students in RTI did worse than their virtually identical peers.

More and more schools are investing in digital intervention. Districts need to monitor the data and make the best decisions for their students. Remember to compare similar schools and ask to speak with other teachers who have already successfully implemented a program.

More and more districts are looking for digital intervention tools to help prepare their students for digital tests including ACT Aspire,  and PARCC. Teachers need to speak up regarding these products. Which products do you use? Do they work?

Teachers, please speak up!

Study:  RTI Practice Falls Short of Promise

Suzanne Rogers

 AP English teacher, Instructional Facilitator, and Arkansas Teacher Practice Network

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