RtI E-News: January 2016



Culturally Responsive Practices

Recent studies have shown that Wisconsin lags behind the rest of the U.S. when it comes to closing the achievement gap between white students and students of color. In response, Wisconsin’s education leaders have begun initiatives to address this problem. DPI has launched their Promoting Excellence for All campaign website, which includes an e-course, as well as research-based tools and resources, while providing increased visibility of the problem.

Wisconsin educators are ready to do the work involved in ensuring that ALL students have the opportunity to become college or career ready. However, it is a large issue and sometimes it is difficult to know where to start.

The Wisconsin RtI Center can help. Our offerings are based on the research of culturally responsive teaching expert Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings, as well as the works of other cultural proficiency experts. The center has developed ways for educators to begin the necessary work to understand and reach all students.

A good place to start is with the Wisconsin RtI Center’s definition of what cultural proficiency is:

Cultural proficiency is an approach that demonstrates the practitioner has the self-awareness to recognize how he or she — because of ethnicity, culture, and life experiences — may affect others, as well as what the practitioner offers to others. “Being culturally proficient allows the practitioner to use teachable moments to share and learn from others” (Davis, 2007).

A culturally proficient practitioner possesses and works to build on his or her contextualized knowledge of culture, community, and identity of children and families as the core of his or her teaching practice.

One of the first things mentioned in the definition is self-knowledge. That’s important because even individuals with the best of intentions might be subconsciously biased – and not even realize it.

Only after identifying, acknowledging, and challenging unintentional biases can an individual begin to learn about and understand students — and families — of a culture different than their own. That fundamental understanding is necessary so practitioners can build and bridge necessary relationships.

Culturally responsive practices are at the core of a culturally responsive multi-level system of support. The Wisconsin RtI Center represents this fundamental idea within the orange central piece of our visual. In our work, we have provided practical trainings, tangible tools, and guidance towards resources that schools and districts can use to be a part of the solution. Here are just a few examples to get you started:

When you’re ready to begin – or continue – cultivating a culturally responsive environment, please feel free to contact us to get started.



Selected and Intensive Levels of Support: Plan Logistics and Dig Deeper

Selected and intensive levels of support are intended to provide supports to students whose needs extend beyond the reach of the universal. Schools across Wisconsin are working to establish and sustain a fluid continuum of support, matched to the needs and the culture of the students they serve. 

To support schools in this work, the Wisconsin RtI Center has created a school-wide process for responding to student needs. We have also developed a series of learning modules to guide teams in learning about, implementing and refining each step, or key feature, in this process.

We will highlight different key features and learning modules in this newsletter throughout the school year. In this newsletter, we highlight…

Plan Logistics

Planning logistics is a critical first step in establishing and sustaining effective levels of support. While no team can anticipate all of the details and roadblocks that will inevitably occur once a plan is up and running, efforts to address these questions up front go a long way toward building a sustainable system.

It is at this stage that the vision becomes reality: When will students receive additional support? Do we have a process to access support? Who will deliver instruction? When will we find time to meet to review results? Are staff adequately prepared? Do we need additional resources? What process will we use to troubleshoot concerns along the way? Who will oversee implementation? 

The Plan Logistics module considers the who-what-when-where-how aspects that can determine whether implementation of selected and intensive levels of support goes smoothly and is successful.  The guiding questions and resources will help your team learn from those who have gone before you in identifying the logistics around preparation, time, staffing, training and ongoing support, fiscal decisions, and much more. 

You can access this module here. 


Dig Deeper 

After analyzing screening data, schools are often anxious to jump to solutions (e.g., putting students in interventions) before fully understanding the nature of the problem. The key feature of the Dig Deeper module is intended to help schools and teams take a step back and consider the causes before taking actions that may help, but may also detract from, positive student outcomes.

The Dig Deeper module reminds schools to verify the accuracy of screening results and explore system- and student-level root causes to more accurately match supports to what’s needed. Resources include strategies and tools to find out more about the particular needs of students both below and above benchmark, including those specific to math and reading. System-level root cause analysis tools and approaches are also provided, along with resources for family engagement and culturally responsive practices. 

You can access this module here.



Save the Date! Lunch and Learn - Collaboration

Collaboration is one of the key pieces required for effective implementation of a culturally responsive multi-level system of support. From the convenience of your computer, you can join us to learn the crucial role collaboration plays in your implementation efforts. Join us over your lunch break and see how this powerful strategy can make a difference! Find out more here!