High school district sees results in student intervention program

Tulare Joint Union High School District implements response to intervention classes, provides students one-on-one support and support through small group instruction

TULARE – After implementing their new student intervention program for a semester, Tulare Joint Union High School District is reporting positive impacts for its students.

For the 2022/2023 school year, the Tulare Joint Union High School District (TJUHSD) implemented a Response to Intervention (RTI) class for students whose grades may be falling behind. Students can be pulled in and out of this class whenever they need more support or have one or more D or F letter grades. The intervention program came around as a result of conversations with teachers and administrators who wanted to provide students with extra support.

The three comprehensive high schools then built their own three-tiered “Pyramid of Supports” system. The RTI class comes into play in the second tier of the pyramid. Students are put into a class for a few weeks and given extra help and resources to become more successful and bring their grades up.

“It’s very unique for high schools, because most high schools don’t have a pull in and out Response to Intervention Program,” district superintendent Lucy Van Scyoc said. “But we have been having a lot of success with our program.”

After the first semester of holding this program, the district received a report on how many students were helped in these RTI classes. At Mission Oak, 162 students participated, Tulare Union had 165 students participate and 146 participated at Tulare Western. The classes allow students to receive one-on-one support and support through small group instruction. The program has had an excellent turnout for helping students, according to Van Scyoc.

The first tier in the pyramid of supports is general support that will meet the needs of 80-90% of students. Even though each school’s program varies by site, the baseline included at each school is general support practices like communicating with parents and students, optional tutoring, meeting with counselors, college and career readiness and much more. Tier two has more targeted interventions for students who are not successful with the supports offered at tier one, according to Van Scyoc.

Each school site has one RTI teacher on campus who teaches eight periods of intervention classes. This allows for flexibility on the students’ part. Van Scyoc said students are usually assigned to the RTI class every two to three weeks and are provided intensive support in their academics. They are also provided with strategies to help them with organization and how to stay on top of their work and study. Students are able to move in and out of the RTI class, but some want to stay in the class because they benefit from the support.

“What we’ve heard from principals is that once kids are in [the RTI classes], and they are successful, a lot of them don’t want to leave,” Van Scyoc said. “But the goal is also to help them with some of those organizational skills so that they can maintain that success.”

Students’ grades are evaluated every two to three weeks, depending on the school site, to determine who needs to be moved into an RTI class. When that happens, counselors look at that student’s schedule to see out of which class they can be switched to an RTI class. Typically, according to TJUHSD Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Technology, and Assessment, Kevin Covert, students will swap a homework lab class for an RTI class, never a core class. Most students in RTI classes are underclassmen.

Also in the classroom helping the teacher are two aids at all times and some school sites and classes have a student tutor as well. The additional support allows for additional fluidity because it provides students with more resources to get them back on track. According to Covert, students will typically break up into small groups and work on different material together. He said it is hard to put a number on the average number of students in one class but usually sits between 15 and 18 students. Van Scyoc said how the students work together in these classes is “really impressive.”

“It’s kind of like what I envision education to look like, small groups … students were working with manipulatives, they were working in groups and they had white whiteboards. It was really cool,” Van Scyoc said about visiting an RTI class at Mission Oak.

Despite this being a model typically seen at the elementary and junior high levels, the reason it works in the TJUHSD is because of the four-by-four scheduling. Students have four A day classes and four B day classes on alternating days through the week, allowing for some wiggle room in students’ schedules.

As far as the other schools in the district, the programs are still in place; they may just look a little different. For example, Sierra View Charter school is primarily offered online. That site has RTI available to all students, but it might be on a zoom call rather than an in person class.

As for Accelerated Charter Academy, their school is run on a daily RTI model for all students, attempting to prevent anyone from failing. RTI aids work more specifically on a one-on-one basis and their D and F grade list is reviewed twice a week. Countryside and Tech Prep High Schools’ programs are teacher run. At Countryside, they have check-ins, overall performance tracking and one-on-one support. At Tech Prep, there are interventions for students with D and F grades, one-on-one support, completion of missing assignments, and social/emotional support.

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