From the article, ‘Teachers’ perceptions and attitudes about Response to Intervention (RTI) in their schools: A qualitative analysis’, (Castro-Villarreal, F., Rodriguez, B. J., & Moore, S. 2014) announced that educators proposed for better preparing and support for enhancing frameworks. The study resulted in two general proposals, made up over a portion of the reactions, suggesting what would make RTI necessities less demanding — streamlining/institutionalizing printed material and an electronic data system(Castro-Villarreal, F., Rodriguez, B. J., and Moore, S. 2014).
The top proposal for enhancing RTI printed material was streamlining. Thirty-four percent of respondents indicated that p RTI paperwork was overpowering and should be simplified. (Castro-Villarreal, F., Rodriguez, B. J., and Moore, S. 2014). Teachers called for “less complicated,” “less repetitive paperwork,” and “standard forms that everyone uses” (Castro-Villarreal, F., Rodriguez, B. J., and Moore, S. 2014). The amount of paperwork a teacher is responsible for is already overwhelming, so teachers would greatly benefit from being able to avoid lengthy paperwork, possibly incorporating the use of more pictures and graphs related to data that is collected.
The second most popular suggestion from teachers was to use an electronic data system. Twenty-four percent of respondents recommended that an electronic framework would make RTI ‘paperwork’ more manageable (Castro-Villarreal, F., Rodriguez, B. J., and Moore, S. 2014). Educators explained that they needed an online framework where RTI information and forms were effectively available and could be imparted to all staff. One instructor recommended a system that would join information automatically from all testing sources. Any school seeking school improvement should consider investing in a database management system to monitor the information gathered on the adequacy of the school. Many school leaders may feel as if this is a constraint, due to lack of resources, however, if the school district does not have a database system in place, educators and/or school leaders should consider writing a proposal requesting the resources and funding required.
School Improvement – From the Students’ Point-of-View
One aspect of school improvement that often goes unmentioned is student involvement in decision making. Although this was not one of the main issues discussed in this paper, I believe it is important to understand the student body whenever making decisions for school improvement and to include students in decisions made about matters that concern them, especially when making decisions affecting their school climate and school culture. School climate refers to the school’s effects on students, including teaching practices; diversity; and the relationships among administrators, teachers, parents, and students, and school culture refers to the way teachers and other staff members work together and the set of beliefs, values, and assumptions they share (Ascd., n.d.). According to (Simmons, C., Graham, A., & Thomas, N. 2015), recent studies point to explicit benefits for policy and practice when students are actively engaged in education reform. Such benefits include a greater understanding of marginalized young people’s needs and issues, a more supportive school climate, a stronger sense of belonging in school, enhanced academic and social motivation, and improved student empowerment.
In a study conducted by (Simmons, C., Graham, A., & Thomas, N. 2015), analyzing school improvement from the student’s perspective by interviewing four age groups of students (ages 6-8, ages 10-12, ages 13 to 14, and ages 16-17). The responses from the 6-8-year-old students suggested that school improvements were represented by resources, such as books, libraries, desks, and more practical pedagogies. For 10-12-year-old students, their idea of school improvement was represented by efforts towards outside learning, such as one-on-one activities, hands-on work, fun learning activities. These students also mentioned the role of the teacher in the classroom and the attitude of the teacher having an impact on student achievement (Simmons, C., Graham, A., & Thomas, N. 2015). The 13-14-year-old students expressed the need for more organized teachers and more effective classes and activities. Most of the students suggested that focusing more on improving the quality of the learning material would be more beneficial than focusing more on rules and disciplinary action. The 16-17-year-olds were more oriented towards their future with a stronger emphasis on fairness and equality in pedagogical practices (Simmons, C., Graham, A., & Thomas, N. 2015).
Implications for Future Practice
The current push for data-driven decision-making is the idea of continuous improvement, which refers to systems that can monitor and evaluate school progress effectively. Research on data use in K-12 settings has demonstrated that the provision of data alone does not magically lead to improved teaching and learning (Huguet, A., Marsh, J. A., & Farrell, C. 2014). Data-driven decision-making is more than providing educators with reports and information and should inlcude informing and training teachers on how to use and apply data to all current and future issues. School administrators should evaluate the constraints and limitations affecting data-driven decision making in their schools. According to (Schildkamp, K., Poortman, C. L., & Handelzalts, A. 2016), some questions to reflect upon are: When designing supports for teachers, what unit of interaction can be adequately supported? If resources cannot support a one-on-one coach in schools, then what organizational resources will be dedicated to supporting a group-based approach? Is there enough time set aside to ensure regular meetings? Do teams members provide adequate access to needed content-area and technical expertise, and if not, from where might this expertise be leveraged? (e.g. other teachers, consultants, district personnel). School leaders should also determine the level of data literacy in their organization as well as the areas that teachers need the most assistance in regarding data use and decision making. For example, if teachers are unable to access and collect data efficiently, then the school may benefit from investing in a data management system, on the other hand, if teachers are able to collect and interpret data, but unable to implement effective changes then they may benefit from interventions to provide them the opportunity to reflect upon and adjust to instruction (Schildkamp, K., Poortman, C. L., & Handelzalts, A. 2016).