Turning Promising Theory Into Productive Practice: the Perspectives of Educators Piloting the Responsiveness to Intervention Model in One Ontario School District
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Education for All (2005) offers a developmentally appropriate plan based on responsiveness to intervention (RTI) research. The model, termed the tiered approach, advocates intervention as a step in the process of identification which involves closely monitoring students in the primary years and providing additional support through direct instruction and increased monitoring of students who are at-risk. There are numerous empirical studies discussing the potential benefits of the RTI model (Feiker Hollenbeck, 2007; Fuchs & Deshler, 2007). However, the promise of a theory is never enough to ensure a change in the practice of teachers or an improvement in the learning of students. Since it is the teachers who will alter their classroom practice and systematically monitor student progress in order to decide whether suitable learning trajectories are being achieved, researchers must examine how best to support teachers in the face of such change. This study describes, through the use of focus group data, teachers’ views of their experiences participating in a pilot project of the RTI model. While exploring the supports and barriers that these teachers face in the first year of implementing the RTI model, this study describes the limitations imposed by the teachers’ perceived lack of empowerment throughout the pilot project.