Sunday, August 1, 2010

Response to Intervention

This is a neat little book: Solution-Focused RTI. When I see "RTI" I expect it to be gi-normous. At 194 pages, sized and bound so that pages are easy to photocopy, author Linda Metcalf has given readers a positive, interesting, easy-to-follow, practical guide to Response-to-Intervention that is based upon real experiences. I feel upbeat and hopeful when I read the examples and how-to.

RTI tends to be a buzz word thrown around in special ed programs, special ed workshops and conferences, at IEP meetings. If you've not had a child in special education, you may not be familiar with RTI. I don't think I would have heard of it had I not had a child in special education. Parents of students in the public school system often complain about schools not using RTI appropriately. It's a hot topic on internet boards where parents of children with special needs gather.

RTI is not limited to discussions that revolve around school-building schools and access to special education, although that is where you'll most likely see the topic, and that is where Linda Metcalf focuses in "Solution-Focused RTI, A Positive and Personalized Approach to RTI". Metcalf uses anecdotes to explain what RTI is (including the tiers), why it is important, tell stories of challenges, successes, and the RTI that happened between here and there.

My absolute favorite part of the book: Linda Metcalf reminds readers again and again to look for, say aloud, write down the strengths and positives of a student. (Too often, students with learning or behavioral challenges are described in all negative terms and weaknesses, which is not only discouraging to the parent at the team meeting, but also colors the student with a negative perception that can be difficult to shake.)

Another favorite of mine: Metcalf reminds the adults to consider the perspective of the student, to ask the student's opinion, to include the student in the solution. She shares one anecdote where a sibling accompanied a child to classes, and the sibling provided important feedback that allowed the school staff to make positive changes for the student. (One of my personal gripes is that sometimes, adults label a behavior "non-compliant" or "maladaptive" or a "behavior problem" without using any perspective taking to understand WHY the child behaves a particular way.)

The table of contents, chapter 1, and the index are available here.

Metcalf includes a number of forms for team meetings and data-gathering with samples that are simplified when I compare them to the forms I left behind when I made the decision to homeschool. They're the kind of forms parents are going to want to take to IEP team meetings to share with the team.

Solution-Focused RTI is short and easy to read (compared to other books I've seen on the subject). Metcalf avoids overusing acronym soup, too, making her book more appealing to the layperson. I would say that Solution-Focused RTI will appeal more to the school-building school audience that includes ALL teachers (gen ed and special ed) and parents of children with IEPs, 504 plans, or behavioral challenges, although a homeschool, a house of worship, a community-education program, or a homeschool co-op would benefit from the information when dealing with and improving a situation for and with a student with learning or behavioral challenges.

Solution-Focused RTI: A Positive and Personalized Approach to Response-to-Intervention
Linda Metcalf
ISBN: 978-0-470-47042-8
224 pages
June 2010
US $32.95

Jossey-Bass, an Imprint of Wiley, sent me a free review copy of Solution Focused RTI, A Positive and Personalized Approach to Response to Intervention by Linda Metcalf. I am not otherwise compensated for reviews and am not obligated to provide a positive review.

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