Strong school leadership is imperative for successful student learning. In fact, “…leadership…is second only to teaching among school-related factors in its impact on student learning…the impact of the leadership tends to be greatest in schools where the learning needs of the students are the most acute.” (Leithwood et al., 2004, p. 3). Leadership is the critical and underlying foundation for the successful development and implementation of PS/RtI.
PS/RtI is focused on the learning of all students. The most critical roles for the principal, as the primary school leader, are to do the following:
Principals must develop a Problem Solving Leadership Team (PSLT) to share these responsibilities. This team, in addition to other activities, should be data, instructionally and behaviorally focused and must assist with problem solving, increasing instructional and behavioral fidelity, and, if necessary, developing a new master schedule to accommodate the three tiers of PS/RtI.
PSLT membership should include highly qualified classroom teachers, content and program specialist(s), student services personnel, and other appropriate personnel, including the principal. PSLTs are beneficial as they provide essential on-site support and accountability to other teachers and increase teachers’ ownership of problems and solutions.
The purpose of the Problem Solving Model in RtI is to develop academic and behavior intervention strategies that have a high probability of success. It requires full collaboration among a team of professionals along with parents to identify specific, measurable outcomes and to design research-based interventions to address the concerns. The process includes ensuring interventions are implemented with fidelity and progress is monitored to determine the students’ responses. The process must integrate the use of data to guide the development of effective interventions and to provide frequent monitoring of progress.
The PS/RtI Model is a three-tiered system designed to meet the needs of ALL students. Tier 1 provides strong, effective core instruction for all students. Flexible differentiated groupings are included so that the instructional goals of all students can be met. Tier II offers supplemental instruction in addition to the standards-based curriculum received in Tier I. The curriculum and instruction at Tier II is designed to meet the needs of students not progressing as expected in Tier I. Tier III instruction includes more intensive and explicit instruction that is focused on a specific skill needs, whether that is an accelerated need or a remedial need.