RTI / Collaboration

Union Middle School’s “Collaborative Approach to Service Provision” was designed to meet the academic needs of all of our students, but particularly RSP, SDC, ELL and other students who were struggling to meet academic standards. Our Collaborative Approach involves all of our “reform efforts” into one streamlined vision of diagnostics, instruction, and support; this includes, but is not limited to: full-inclusion of all students, Response to Intervention and Instruction (RtI2), Professional Learning Communities, and Data Teams.

Previous to 2006, “special education” students were predominately excluded from the mainstream classes for ELA and mathematics. As a group, the percentage of special education students achieving proficiency in ELA or Math consistently remained under 25%. With such results and the added AYP pressure, UMS staff committed to rethinking how struggling students and students with disabilities should be served. 

Following extensive professional development that included the support of WestEd consultants Art Darin and Sylvia DeRuvo at the site level, our staff asked a fundamental question—What would it take for UMS to provide a truly collaborative model of instruction that addressed student disabilities and challenges while also giving access to the most highly-qualified teachers teaching the grade-level state standards using state-adopted materials? This question continues to drive our efforts.

Guaranteed Viable Curriculum

The first step of any successful collaboration between general and special education is subject and grade level agreement on what will be taught and when. Using the California State Framework in each content area and working backward, UMS designed a “Scope and Sequence” for each subject in each grade level.

Regular Collaboration

At UMS, teachers collaborate vertically and horizontally. Vertically, our teachers collaborate by subject; sixth, seventh and eighth-grade subject specialists plan with one another during shared prep periods. Horizontally, our teachers collaborate weekly during our Wednesday late-start collaboration time in their cross-curricular teams; teams include one of each of the four core subject areas (ELA, Math, Science, and Social Studies) who serve the same students.

Diagnostic Assessment

Regardless of the label, UMS students are placed in services, courses, and interventions based on the results of common diagnostics that indicate when and where additional support is necessary. In math, UMS uses district benchmarks, adoption assessments, and additional assessments to determine the needs of all students. In ELA, UMS beings with the Informal Reading Inventory (IRI) and quarterly district writing assessments to identify the need for further assessment.

Common Benchmark and Analysis

In order to objectively measure to what degree students are retaining and able to use the information being taught, our teachers collaboratively designed benchmarks that are given at regular intervals. Time and attention are given for subject/grade level teams to act as “data teams” determining which standards were effectively presented, which might need adaptation, and which students necessitate re-teaching of fundamental concepts that are building blocks for future information.

Union Middle School utilizes the following strategies to meet the needs of all of our students in the classroom: