The Complete Guide to RTI: An Implementation Toolkit


Dolores Burton & John Kappenberg

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    This book would not have been possible without the collective efforts of a battalion of individuals with a passion for improving educational opportunities for all children. Many individuals contributed to the knowledge base that is the foundation of the book. We are grateful to the New York State Higher Education Support Center for SystemsChange and Dr. Gerald Mager, Dr. Peter Kosik, Iris Maxon, and Steve Wirt, who developed and maintained a venue to keep us in the company of scholars and the resources to share expertise to improve teacher education and student outcomes.

    For Chapter 2, many thanks to colleagues, past and present, who gave their time and expertise to develop the skills and techniques discussed, and to the S3TAIR Project staff and partners for sharing their experiences, which contributed to these best practices.

    For Chapter 4, we honor the memory of Alice Koontz, fellow of the Orton-Gillingham Academy; she was a teacher, mentor, and friend.

    For Chapter 5, we wish to acknowledge the editing assistance of Dr. Charlotte Rosenzweig.

    For Chapter 8, we thank Joanne Cashman and Patrice Linehan of the IDEA Partnership for their mentoring and commitment to communities of practice and collaborative work. Dr. George Goldstein provided expertise and insights into the administrative aspects of parent involvement. Dick Maitland, of the Sesame Street Workshop, was a continual source of inspiration and technical expertise throughout this project. Misty Burch provided valuable research into the implementation aspects of the RTI process.

    For Chapter 9, we acknowledge the contributions of Dr. Charlotte Rosenzweig and Dr. Karen Siris.

    We heartily thank all of our contributors—Harold J. Dean, Arlene B. Crandall, Erin E. Ax, Lynn Burke, Sarah McPherson, C. Faith Kappenberg, Helene Fallon, Patricia Ann Marcellino, and Lydia Begley for sharing their expertise. We are thankful to all of our past teachers and professors, who assisted us to develop the understandings and habits of mind that resulted in this book, and we offer our regards to Jessica Allan, senior acquisitions editor, Amy Schroller, production editor, and Cate Huisman, copy editor, all at Corwin, who supported us during its completion.

    This book would not have been possible without the generous support of President Guiliano and the New York Institute of Technology, which provided a sabbatical that gave Dolores Burton the time to pursue the scholarly core of this book.

    Finally, words cannot express the thanks we owe to our spouses, Bernard Burton and Faith Kappenberg, for their patience, encouragement, and assistance throughout this extended labor of love.

    Publisher's Acknowledgments

    Corwin gratefully acknowledges the contributions of the following reviewers:

    • Elizabeth Alvarez

      Math & Science Coach

      Chicago, IL

    • Erin E. Barton


      University of Colorado Denver

      Denver, CO

    • Sue A. DeLay

      Teacher-Math Interventionist

      Oak Creek-Franklin School District

      Oak Creek, WI

    • Esther M. Eacho

      Education Specialist

      McLean, VA

    • Lisa Graham, NBCT

      Program Specialist, Curriculum & Staff Development

      Vallejo City Unified School District, Special Education

      Walnut Avenue, Vallejo, CA

    • Lori L. Grossman

      Academic Trainer

      Houston ISD

      Houston, TX

    • A. L. Hough-Everage

      Associate Professor of Education

      Brandman University, Chapman University System

      Victorville, CA

    • West Keller

      Kindergarten Teacher (SPED/Social Skills Blended Kindergarten)

      McGilvra Elementary

      Seattle, WA

    • Sara Lynne Murrell

      Teacher, 5th Grade

      Bethel Elementary School

      Simpsonville, SC

    • Lyndon Oswald


      Sandcreek Middle School

      Ammon, ID

    • Lois Rebich

      Instructional Support Teacher

      Ross Elementary School

      Pittsburgh, PA

    • Dr. Rose Cherie Reissman

      Licensed Literacy and ELL Educator, Literacy/ELL Consultant

      Chief Academic Officer, Mind Lab

      New York, NY

    • Victor Simon III


      John C. Dore Elementary School

      Chicago, IL

    • Michelle (Drechsler) Strom

      Teacher, Language Arts

      Carson Middle School

      Colorado Springs, CO

    • Deborah D. Therriault

      Special Education Teacher

      Clarkston Community Schools, Clarkston High School

      Clarkston, MI

    • Karen L. Tichy

      Associate Superintendent for Instruction and Special Education

      Archdiocese of St. Louis, Catholic Education Office

      St. Louis, MO

    • Russell Vaden

      Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology

      Coastal Carolina University

      Conway, SC

    • Marian White-Hood

      Director of Academics, Accountability, and Principal Support

      Maya Angelou Public Charter Schools and SeeForever Foundation

      Washington, DC

    About the Authors

    Dolores Burton, EdD, has spent 36 years in education as a teacher, administrator, professional developer, consultant, and author of instructional software and numerous publications. She has presented papers regionally, nationally, and internationally on response to intervention, universal design for learning, differentiated instruction, brain-based learning, mathematics instruction especially in inclusive settings, strategic planning, professional development, and the use of technology to enhance teaching and learning. She has served on the board of directors of the Northeastern Educational Research Association and has held offices in numerous educational organizations.

    Dr. Burton believes all children can learn and have a right to be in an educational environment that facilitates their academic successes. Her writing, presentations, and teaching reflect this belief. She is included on the Fulbright Specialist roster and has consulted locally and internationally. She received her bachelor's and master's degrees from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook and holds professional diplomas from both Long Island University and Hofstra University. Her doctorate was earned at Hofstra University. She taught courses at SUNY at Stony Brook and currently is a professor and chair of the Division of Teacher Education at New York Institute of Technology.

    John Kappenberg, EdD, has spent 40 years in education as teacher, professor, district administrator, writer, speaker, and consultant to school districts and professional organizations. He has been director of research, planning, and quality at the Sewanhaka Central High School District in New York, where he led its long-term strategic planning program, and director of educational leadership and technology at New York Institute of Technology. He has taught school finance and law, Total Quality Management, strategic planning, and educational technology at Hofstra University on Long Island and at Argosy University in Sarasota, Florida. Dr. Kappenberg served on the board of directors for the Governor's Excelsior Award program (Empire State Advantage) in New York, as regional liaison for the Higher Education Support Center for SystemsChange, and as vice president of the Long Island chapter of the New York State Council on Exceptional Children (CEC). He received his bachelor's degree in biology from Fairfield University (Connecticut), master's in the history of ideas from New York University, and doctoral degree in educational leadership and policy studies from Hofstra University. He has produced more than 40 instructional, motivational, and public information videotapes and DVDs for schools, universities, and professional and state organizations.

    About the Contributors

    Erin E. Ax, PhD, is a nationally certified school psychologist. Erin obtained her doctorate in school psychology from the University of South Florida, where she collaborated with Reading First schools, the Florida Center for Reading Research (FCRR), and community partners in a problem-solving/outcomes-driven approach to service delivery. She has consulted with schools across the country on implementing an RTI model focused on both academic and behavior support. Dr. Ax has served on the adjunct faculty in the master's of education degree programs at Hunter College and Pace University and in the doctoral program in school psychology at City University of New York.

    Lydia Begley, EdD, is associate superintendent for educational services of the Board of Cooperative Educational Services, an organization that serves the 56 school districts of Nassau County, Long Island. She has been a public school teacher, a school administrator in public schools, a district superintendent, and an adjunct professor in an educational administration program working with graduate students who are preparing for careers as future administrators. Dr. Begley has presented at local, state, and national conferences on leadership, women in the superintendency, and instructional issues regarding integrated skills and curriculum mapping. Both a practitioner and researcher, her scholarly and research interests include gender issues and women in the superintendency.

    Lynn Burke, MS, an educational consultant, works to improve instructional results for learners of written alphabetic languages. Her primary focus is helping teachers to integrate “the missing piece” (i.e., explicit, sequential, cumulative, phonetically based multisensory reading/writing/spelling instruction) into existing language arts curricula. Ms. Burke is currently serving as president of the International Dyslexia Association—Long Island Branch, and is a board member of the Learning Disabilities Association—Long Island Branch.

    Arlene B. Crandall, MA, has worked in education for over 30 years as a teacher, school psychologist, special education administrator, and staff developer for the New York State Education Department. She is one of the authors of the 2009 New York State training resource for the Committee on Special Education/Committee on Preschool Special Education. Ms. Crandall has served as the president of the New York Association of School Psychologists (NYASP) as well as delegate and regional director for the National Association of School Psychologists. She is currently the president of ABCD Consulting, Inc., a company that provides professional development for school districts, and an adjunct instructor in the department of school counseling at New York Institute of Technology.

    Harold J. Dean, EdD, is an administrator with the Eastern Suffolk Board of Cooperative Educational Services. A lifelong Long Island resident, he has taught special education in inclusive, self-contained, resource-room, and consultative settings. He has presented locally and nationally on topics including best practices in special education, student intervention, and instructional strategies.

    Helene Fallon, MEd, has a background in social work and education with extensive training in advocacy for children and young adults with disabilities. She is the parent of two children with special needs. Working nationally as a professional development specialist, she conducts trainings on many topics, always focusing on collaboration and effective communication in education.

    C. Faith Kappenberg, PhD, LCSW, has been a clinical social worker in the fields of autism, child development, special education, psychotherapy, and social work education for over 30 years. She has served on the faculties of Molloy College and Adelphi University teaching practicum supervision, organizational behavior, human development, and psychopathology. Dr. Kappenberg is a founder and clinical director of Westbrook Preparatory School, the first residential therapeutic school in New York serving high functioning adolescents on the autism spectrum.

    Patricia Ann Marcellino, EdD, is an associate professor in the Educational Leadership and Technology Program at the Ruth S. Ammon School of Education at Adelphi University. She has cross-disciplinary expertise in the fields of both business and education; she possesses an MBA in management and an MA in education. Dr. Marcellino has experience in both fields as an administrator, instructor, and consultant. Her research agenda includes the development of teams, groups, and partnerships in the areas of distributed leadership, team learning, and professional relationship building. She is the author of numerous papers and presentations on these topics.

    Sarah McPherson, EdD, holds a master's in reading and doctorate in special education from Johns Hopkins University. She is chair of the Department of Instructional Technology and Educational Leadership at New York Institute of Technology and current president of the International Society for Technology in Education Special Interest Group for Teacher Education. She is also on the board of directors for the New York Society for Computers and Technology in Education and the Long Island Council of Exceptional Children, and she serves on the Long Island Task Force on Quality Inclusive Schooling. She has written articles and book chapters and has presented at numerous national and international conferences on instructional technology for K–12 inclusive education, universal design for learning, RTI, virtual online education, web 2.0 tools for globalization, and e-portfolios.


    This book is lovingly dedicated to Richie and Matt, who have been my inspiration and my joy.

    Dolores Burton

    … and to Geoff, Eric, and Kirsten, my dreams for the future.

    John Kappenberg

  • Epilogue: Why Implement RTI?

    DoloresT.Burton and JohnKappenberg

    RTI is based on a very simple premise: All children can learn. The goal of RTI is to improve instruction and educational outcomes for all students. Its foundation is three fold: providing high-quality instruction to students, using reliable and valid data to make decisions, and preventing rather than fixing student failure. Attendees at the National Summit on Learning Disabilities, a learning disabilities summit conference convened by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) in August 2001 (Bradley, Danielson, & Hallahan, 2002) endorsed RTI as “the most promising method of alternative identification” and stated that RTI promotes the implementation of effective practices in schools.

    Data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) have shown that large percentages of students in the United States are not proficient in reading or mathematics. For example, only 31% of fourth-grade students and 29% of eighth-grade students in the United States were classified as proficient or better on the NAEP reading assessment in 2007. Reid Lyon, Jack Fletcher, and their colleagues (2001) suggested that through early identification and intervention for reading difficulties, the number of children in special education can be reduced by 70%.

    Every child who can benefit from special education should, after careful diagnosis and proper assessment, be given the support necessary for him or her to succeed. However, this must be done in a thoughtful way, as only 57% of the students placed in special education graduate from high school, and often they are labeled and segregated from other students, and few ever return to general education (Hosp & Madyun, 2007).

    An additional concern is that children from minority groups are over-represented in special education (Stuebing, et al., 2002). Black-White achievement gaps in Grade 4 mathematics existed in 2007 in the 46 states for which results were available, and gaps in Grade 4 reading existed in 2007 in the 44 states for which results were available. As educators we have the responsibility to provide educational opportunities to all students regardless of race, gender, or socioeconomic status so they may reach their potential.

    The focus of RTI is on improved student outcomes for all students through the provision of high-quality science- or research-based instruction and interventions that are matched to student academic or behavioral needs. Through a multitiered framework, the RTI process enables districts to provide early support and assistance to students who are struggling to attain or maintain grade-level performance. No longer do teachers, parents, and students have to wait for students to fail before interventions can begin. According to the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE), RTI “is a practice of providing high quality instruction and interventions matched to student need, monitoring progress frequently to make decisions about changes in instruction or goals and applying child response data to important educational decisions” (NASDSE, 2006, p. 3).

    This book was written to help educators and parents to develop a background in multiple aspects of RTI, from its structure to the content of individual interventions. It was designed with case studies to demonstrate how theory is turned into practice, and it includes resources for continued study on best practices in instruction, assessment, and all components of RTI. It was written in the hope that with informed parents and educators, all students will have the opportunity to reach their potential and succeed in our ever changing global interconnected world. Our children deserve no less.

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