An exploration of parent ivolvement in Response to Intervention (RTI) in Title I schools

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Research demonstrates that parental involvement positively impacts student achievement and enhances targeted instruction. Notably, however, little research currently exists on how schools involve parents in Response to Intervention (RTI), a framework for implementing targeted, tiered, research-based instruction. The purpose of this study was to interview selected parents, teachers, RTI specialists, and principals in three Title I elementary schools in one school district, plus one district-level administrator, in order to examine how elementary schools currently involve parents in RTI prereferral interventions, and to understand the factors that might facilitate or challenge such parent involvement. I employed a comparative case study qualitative design with each elementary school as the main unit of analysis. I conducted individual, in-depth interviews that lasted approximately 45-60 minutes with a total of 33 participants across the three school sites, including 11 parents, 12 teachers, and six RTI specialists, three principals, and one district-level administrator. I also analyzed documents related to RTI processes that are available through websites and participants. I used Strauss and Corbin’s (1998) three-step scheme for thematic/grounded theory analysis, and Atlas.ti as the electronic tool for management and analysis. Analyses of the data revealed that personnel across the sites largely agreed on how they explain RTI to parents and notify parents of student progress. Parents mostly disagreed with these accounts, stating instead that they learn about RTI and their child’s progress by approaching teachers or their own children with questions, or by examining report cards and student work that comes home. Personnel and parents cited various challenges for involving parents in RTI. However, they all also agreed that teachers are accessible and willing to reach out to parents, and that teachers already face considerable workloads. It appears that no district- or school-wide plan guides parent involvement practices in RTI at any of the three schools. Finally, I present a discussion of findings; implications for teachers, RTI implementation leaders, and Title school leaders; study limitations; and possibilities for future research.