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Edgerton elementary is state site for education system

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NEIL W. JOHNSON
February 8, 2012
— Edgerton Community Elementary School is part of a study that's intended to show schools statewide how to be a model for improving learning.

The school was selected by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction as one of six school demonstration sites for Response to Intervention, a learning improvement system that's increasingly being used by schools statewide.


Response to Intervention is part of a national learning initiative supported by the state Department of Public Instruction in connection with an independent group, the Wisconsin RtI Center.


Some states are mandated to use RtI, but the system is not mandatory in Wisconsin. About 50 percent of Wisconsin school districts use it, according to the state DPI.


RtI works by analyzing computerized learning data teachers collect on individual students.


The system identifies students who are at risk of falling behind or students who aren't being challenged enough.


Teachers and staff can adjust instruction based on needs of a specific student. For instance, some students might need a small amount of extra help on reading skills. Others might need more intensive individual work.


Julia Hartwig, who chairs the DPI's statewide RtI initiative, chose Edgerton Community Elementary as an RtI demonstration site because the school already uses part of the RtI model: teams of teachers and staff that work on shared learning goals identified by the school and the district.


Hartwig said the DPI will use information it collects from Edgerton and the five other schools designated as demonstration sites to show other districts how RtI works.


"The whole point of RtI is there's not one way of educating students. We hope to demonstrate six different types of ways that this model can work, so that other districts can see themselves in different examples," Hartwig said.


Lori Van Himbergen, Edgerton schools director of pupil services, said Edgerton schools already are using some other parts of RtI, too, such as standardized testing that assesses each student's ability to learn. The district also has changed the schedule to give certain students 30 minutes a day of extra help, she said.


RtI is designed to work for all academic areas, but Edgerton Community Elementary and other schools identified as demonstration sites this year will focus data collection on one key area: reading.


Hartwig said focusing on just one area would make it easier for the DPI to analyze how districts of different sizes and demographics use RtI.


Van Himbergen said the school would have classrooms set up to use different methods to improve reading. One example includes classrooms with reader workshops for students.


The DPI is giving the school ongoing support and working with school staff to improve how it uses RtI.


Van Himbergen said one critical item is finding time to schedule one-on-one work with students and the staff team work that's required to make the RtI work.


Some school districts, such as Milton School District, are shifting to flexible schedules with late starts to give teachers more time to collaborate.


"Time is always at the crux of everything, it seems. It's a matter of how do we structure the student schedules and teacher schedules," Van Himbergen said.



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