Support for the Needs of Diverse Learners

SEDL assists states, districts, and schools in implementing Response to Intervention. This framework involves using data, tiered interventions, and evidence-based strategies to meet diverse learners’ needs and improve achievement and behavior.

Getting Back on Course

The small town of Lyford, Texas, sits about 30 miles from the Mexico border. Three schools serve the town’s mainly Hispanic, low-income population. In 2008, the district did not meet benchmarks for adequate yearly progress (AYP) in reading because too many special education students took the modified version of the state test. In 2009, the district missed the mark in both reading and math.

Now, Lyford is back on course—thanks in part to Response to Intervention (RtI) and SEDL’s support.

RtI is a framework for addressing student academic needs and behavior problems. Educators use data, such as test scores and student work, to identify learners’ needs as early as possible. Within a tiered structure, educators then target interventions to address those needs and closely monitor progress to adjust support.

With RtI, general education teachers can help almost all students master the core curriculum, thereby reducing special education referrals. The goal is to help struggling students—and schools—get back on course and stay there.

Guiding the Way

In 2009–2010, SEDL assisted Lyford in implementing RtI to improve school performance. The districtwide effort involved some 130 school staff. Working with district leaders, we looked at a variety of data across student groups, grades, and campuses. The analysis revealed a need to target elementary reading, high school math, and behavior at all grades.

To support implementation, we designed and provided staff development for Lyford. Sessions covered all aspects of RtI, such as selecting high-quality interventions and aligning them to state standards. We also led sessions targeting effective strategies for reading and math instruction, working with English learners and students with disabilities, promoting positive behaviors, and analyzing student work.

Reaching the Goal

Lyford now has cause to celebrate. The district met AYP in reading and math, not only overall but at each school. In addition, performance in reading/English language arts rose overall, while math rose at the secondary level. The number of students with disabilities that took the modified version of the state test also fell within federal guidelines.

With SEDL’s collaboration, RtI is providing Lyford with one path to reach its goals.

For more information, please contact Ada Muoneke, SEDL program associate at 512-391-6540 or via email at