Since 2013, The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) has worked with the National Center on Intensive Intervention (NCII) to implement data-based individualization (DBI) in reading, mathematics, and behavior for students with severe and persistent learning and behavioral needs. Specifically, NCII has supported schools in two districts and worked with a team of coaches representing staff from RIDE, the Northern Rhode Island Collaborative, the Rhode Island Technical Assistance Project, and Rhode Island’s State Personnel Development Grant–Multi-Tiered System of Support (SPDG-MTSS). Through this work, Rhode Island has noticed changes in adult behavior and practices at the local education agency (LEA) level in the pilot districts that have included LEAs initiating professional development opportunities. Educators in the two pilot districts also have begun work to rethink their internal capacity. In one district, scripts were developed for teams to follow in the event of leadership or staff turnover; and in another district, a relationship with higher education has been established to support teacher and leader training. Together, these shifts illustrate a change in culture and practice at the LEA level.
As Rhode Island analyzed multiple data sources and engaged stakeholders to identify its State-identified Measurable Result (SIMR), it noticed that a number of students with disabilities were making little to no academic progress despite typically having access to general education for 80 percent or more of the day. To corroborate its findings and to leverage its work with NCII, RIDE convened focus groups and interviews with stakeholders that included staff with experience implementing intensive intervention, a representative from the Rhode Island Parent Information Network, special education leaders, and representatives from urban districts in Rhode Island.
Individuals were asked about the following:
- The most effective methods to share new knowledge in schools, districts, and areas
- Types of progress monitoring data to drive intensive instruction for students with disabilities in academics and behavior
- The individuals with the knowledge about interventions and data-based decision making, and how they demonstrate that knowledge
- How their schools and interdisciplinary teams support students with disabilities and intensive needs when there are barriers at Tier 1 and Tier 2
- How data are used to intensify supports for students
- How data are accessed
- The tools, personnel, and resources in place to intensify the instruction
Figure 1 Summary of Findings from Rhode Island’s Stakeholder Focus Groups.
The findings, along with the data and infrastructural analysis that RIDE completed through Phase I activities, informed Rhode Island’s development of its SIMR, which is as follows:
Improving intensive and individualized instruction within a systematic framework of culturally and linguistically responsive supports for students with disabilities, particularly elementary grades 3-5 Hispanic and Black children with specific learning disabilities in urban settings, will improve their performance on State assessments of math by 2% by 2018.
As Rhode Island moves into Phase II of the SSIP, the theory of action it presented in Phase 1 (see Figure 2) will help inform its implementation and evaluation plan. In this effort, Rhode Island plans to continue to build and leverage the practices developed through its work with NCII, as well as collaborate with NCSI and other organizations to build capacity to address its SIMR. Emily Klein, an education specialist in RIDE’s Office of Student, Community and Academic Supports and NCII coach for Rhode Island, said, “The dedicated coaching model we use in our work with the National Center on Intensive Intervention helps us support districts in need of training. Rhode Island coaches experienced firsthand the value of supporting pilot districts in establishing protocols, roles, and responsibilities with clear models. The access to content experts and readily available materials from NCII supported our efforts and will continue to inform our implementation work moving forward.”
Figure 2. Rhode Island’s Approach to SSIP Implementation
Through this framework, Rhode Island plans to do the following:
- Continue supporting and leveraging the work of the schools and districts that have been partnering with NCII.
- Convene a cohort of professionals from NCII districts and special educators across various districts to develop their mathematics intervention skills, especially with students with severe and persist needs.
- Develop an online tutorial on DBI.
- Work with NCII, the IDEA Data Center, and NCSI to support infrastructure development and evaluation.
- Expand work to additional schools, particularly those in urban areas, by developing implementation plans to support the use of DBI and through partnerships with the SPDG-MTSS.
- Participate in and learn from other states in NCSI’s mathematics Cross-State Learning Collaborative.
Interested in learning more about Rhode Island’s work? View “Beyond Collaboration for Collaboration’s Sake: Building Capacity to Progress toward SIMR Goals,” presented at the OSEP Leadership Conference by Dr. Sarah Arden, Dr. Rebecca Zumeta Edmonds, Dr. Teri Marx, and RIDE’s David Sienko, to learn more. You also can find additional information about Rhode Island’s SSIP work on RIDE’s website: http://www.ride.ri.gov/InformationAccountability/Accountability/StatePerformancePlan.aspx.