February 2011

Introducing the Wisconsin RtI Center
RtI in Wisconsin and the New Rule for SLD Determination
Upcoming Events
School Spotlight: Onalaska High School
Wisconsin RtI Center Staff

Introducing the Wisconsin RtI Center

The Wisconsin RtI Center was created through a partnership between the Department of Public Instruction and the CESA administrators. The purpose of the Center is to assist school communities in increasing opportunities for all students to achieve academic and behavioral success by implementing a multi-level system of support that meets the needs of each student. Schools measure their implementation success through the analysis of outcome data demonstrating increased student achievement and improved school climate.

RtI in Wisconsin and the New Rule for SLD Determination

Many school districts in Wisconsin are working to implement a high quality Response to Intervention (RtI) system that addresses the needs of all students, and schools must evaluate their entire system to determine if they are doing so.

As of December 2010, components of RtI are now part of the language for the Specific Learning Disability eligibility process. Schools need to not only look at the requirements for students who may be considered for a special education referral but also at the larger system in which those students function. Schools simultaneously improving both areas must build a continuum of supports for students between the general education and special education settings. To do so, they need to address some questions. How do they ensure that scientifically research-based interventions with quality evidence have been tried with a small group of students for whom a differentiated general education setting is not working? And how do they ensure that the general education setting, curricular adjustments, and supplementary supports or interventions offered have evidence of high quality?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) created the Wisconsin RtI Center to provide guidance as schools work through the questions that come up as they build their continuum of supports. The work of the Wisconsin RtI Center is to assist districts in implementing a comprehensive framework for their organization. This allows districts to create a strong foundation for all students.  Developing a comprehensive framework allows districts to improve on the system-wide level while addressing those specific students who may be considered for a special education referral. The Wisconsin RtI Center is building supports statewide so that schools can identify what works well based on quality data and make those best practices systematic. The Wisconsin RtI Center and DPI collaborate to make connections to the SLD eligibility process, but the Center’s major focus is on changing the overall system in which the SLD eligibility process is nested.

Upcoming Events

Wisconsin RtI Foundational Overview

This session is an informational overview designed for school building teams working to design, implement, evaluate, and/or refine their building’s RtI framework. Principals and a cross section of staff should  attend, and parental representation on the team is encouraged. As a foundation for starting, further exploring, or evaluating a RtI framework within a school-level building, this session is intended to be the beginning of a suggested sequence of RtI professional development opportunities. The Wisconsin RtI Foundational Overview should be completed prior to participating in further Wisconsin RtI Center
trainings and tools.

Wisconsin RtI Foundational Overviews will be offered this spring throughout the state at each CESA. Contact your local CESA for dates and registration.

For more information on this and other trainings, please contact your local CESA.

RtI Framework Mapping

This session provides a process whereby school teams articulate or “map” current resources, practices, and processes that they have in place that define their RtI system. The teams map their multi-level systems of support around the essential elements of High Quality Instruction, Collaboration, and Balanced Assessment. Strengths, gaps, and future steps for implementation are determined through probing questions and reflective analysis of the completed framework. This workshop is designed for building-level teams focusing on a grade level content area. Key individuals who should be included are curriculum leaders and staff representing the grade level/content area chosen for mapping focus. Parental representation on the team is encouraged.

It is recommended that all schools participate in RtI Framework Mapping after participating in the Wisconsin RtI Foundational Overview and prior to participating in any further specific RtI trainings. This spring, RtI Framework Mapping is being offered through CESA 10 on May 9.

School Spotlight: Onalaska High School

The staff of Onalaska High School began their journey toward implementing RtI by deciding they would do whatever it took to ensure the curriculum they offered allowed all of their students to succeed. They relied on the tenets of Professional Learning Communities (PLC) to guide change in their school. The work of their PLC teams is based on DuFour’s Four Big Questions to review their curriculum and the system in which this curriculum is offered:

  • What do you expect students to learn?
  • How will you know when they learn it?
  • What will do you do for students who don’t learn it?
  • What will you do with the students who have already learned it?

As they built their PLC teams, they worked on collecting evidence that demonstrated practices had changed. The staff, eager to change practices, came back to the administration requesting to review options for scheduling PLC meeting times in order for all staff to fully participate in the change process. Through this work, they looked not only at academics but at behavior as well. Although not a trained PBIS school, Onalaska High School reorganized its overall system to be proactive and positive in order to enhance academic performance. The staff put in place incentive programs that reward students with privileges when they achieve milestones such as good behavior and good grades. Incentives included parking passes, permission to use an iPod during study hour, and hall passes.

The staff of Onalaska High School continued to refine the overall system by looking at changing the class schedule and school start and end times. They now offer more options than the traditional school day. They built in supports for students who are excelling as well as those who are falling behind. The staff was cognizant of the need for students to have a feeling of belonging; by cutting the typical five minute pass time to three minutes, they were able to capture fourteen minutes each day during which seniors mentor freshmen and show them how to navigate high school. Onalaska High School is still on its journey toward creating a school system that is responsive to student needs.

Wisconsin RtI Center Staff

Kathy Ryder, Director

Kathy oversees the Center’s grant goals, activities, and outcomes. She serves as a liaison between DPI and the CESA Statewide Network (CSN), and works to ensure the sustainability of the entire project.

Heidi Thuli, Academic Coordinator

Heidi orchestrates professional development and technical assistance directly related to components and processes. She aligns all work with DPI’s vision for RtI and ensures equitable delivery and quality of Center trainings across the state. She develops and disseminates RtI related tools and resources that enhance a school’s implementation of RtI. She also provides leadership to the regional technical assistance coordinators for academics so they can offer the best assistance to their districts and schools.

Heidi Erstad, Coordinator for Statewide RtI Academics Evaluation and Research

Heidi’s mission is to expand the base of RtI research demonstrating “what works” in Wisconsin schools. She identifies, develops, and validates tools for schools to guide and assess progress toward sustainable W-RtI implementation. Heidi also  provides data to the Center to inform decisions and actions that are responsive to the needs of Wisconsin’s schools, and she disseminates outcomes and findings through evaluation reports and presentations.