Monthly Archives: April 2010

Denver-area school district implements ambitious Response to Intervention (RTI) program

Education Week reports:

Located on the east boundary of Denver, Aurora is Colorado’s third largest city. It has a student population of 34,000 and operates 54 schools. Aurora faces the challenges of many urban districts: Sixty-four percent of its students receive free or reduced lunch and 34 percent are English-language learners who, all told, speak 95 different languages…

Midway through their first year of district-wide implementation, Aurora district officials see early signs of success with their RTI model, but admit to some growing pains, including the familiar complaints about excessive paperwork and time demands…

Since RTI is mandated by Colorado, using the framework was not a choice for Aurora. But district instructional leader Charlotte Butler believes that the 10 or more years the district has spent emphasizing “good first instruction”—informed, reflective instruction that is often synonymous with Tier 1 best practice—and student progress monitoring has helped to smooth the K-12 transition to RTI. “We’re already far along the road, in terms of what we already have in place to support all students as learners,” she explains.
Classroom Support

To support the disparate learning needs of its students, APS took the state’s three-tiered RTI model and tweaked it—mostly noticeably, by adding a fourth tier, between the conventional Tiers 1 and 2. Lisa Escarcega, chief accountability and research officer, describes the insertion of a “Tier 1a,” which is intended to prevent or delay Tier 2 placement for at-risk students, as a path to “encourage success.” Tier 1a includes providing classroom teachers with coaching support on intervention strategies.“It keeps the focus back on good instruction at that first tier level until our achievement improves,” Escarcega explains.

Read more about Aurora, Colorado’s RTI program on their district Web site here.

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More states consider linking teacher pay to student performance

The Associate Press (via MSNBC) reports:

For parents and politicians hungry for better schools, the idea of paying teachers more if their students perform better can seem as basic as adding two and two or spelling “cat.”Yet just a handful of schools and districts around the country use such strategies. In some states, the idea is effectively illegal.

That could all be changing as the federal government wields billions of dollars in grants to lure states and school districts to try the idea. The money is persuading lawmakers around the country, while highlighting the complex problems surrounding pay-for-performance systems.

I’ve posted on this topic in the past.

Seton Hill University will distribute iPads to students next school year

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports:

Seton Hill University, a liberal-arts institution in Pennsylvania with more than 2,100 students, announced a program on Tuesday that offers an iPad to every full-time student.

Distribution will begin in the fall. Incoming freshmen will also receive a 13-inch MacBook laptop, which Seton Hill will replaced after two years; current sophomores, juniors, and seniors can opt into that program…

“The iPad was chosen by Seton Hill because of its mobility and the ease with which faculty and students, in the future, will have immediate access to e-textbooks and comprehensive and integrated learning,” said Mary Ann Gawelek, provost and dean of the faculty at Seton Hill, in an e-mail message to The Chronicle.