Response to Intervention
At Imagine Lincoln, we utilize “Response to Intervention” (RTI) to provide early, effective assistance to children who have difficulty learning. The RTI method has been developed as an alternative to the more traditional approach of identifying learning disabilities through an ability-achievement discrepancy model, which requires children to exhibit a discrepancy between their ability, often measured by IQ testing, and their academic achievement, as measured by their grades and standardized testing.
RTI seeks to prevent academic failure through early intervention, frequent progress measurement, and increasingly intensive research-based instructional interventions for children who continue to experience difficulty in learning. Students who do not show a response to effective interventions are likely (or, more likely than students who respond) to have biologically-based learning disabilities and to be in need of special education.
Our hope is that, by implementing early intervention through RTI, we can improve the academic performance and behavior of children who have difficulty learning, and at the same time reduce the likelihood that any student is wrongly identified as having a disability.
Measuring Student Learning
Most schools use the percentage of students who are academically proficient and advanced as the primary source for their performance measurement. At Imagine Lincoln, however, we place a greater emphasis on same-student growth, or what we term “learning gains.” By testing students at the start of the year, our teachers learn what students know and in what areas they need the most improvement. Testing students at year-end then shows how far each student advances during the school year.
Same-student learning gains allow us to assess how well our school helps students learn, compared with year-end proficiency tests that measure only what students know at a given point in time. Our aim is for each student to grow academically a year or more every year they attend Imagine Lincoln. Of course, if our students’ tests show proficiency and advancement at grade level or higher, we celebrate that as well.
While we are very pleased with the academic achievement of our students, we know that many children arrive at Imagine Lincoln behind grade level in math and reading. It may take more than one year for our school to help students catch up and overcome the shortcomings of their previous school experiences.