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Researchers Provide Guidance on Using RTI With ELLs

Two researchers who specialize in special education have summarized in a straightforward way what is known about how to apply "response to intervention" to English-language learners in an article posted over at Colorín Colorado, a bilingual resource site for parents and educators. The researchers are Sharon Vaughn and Alba Ortiz. Update: The article was reprinted from the RTI Action Network.

The article focuses on the use of RTI for teaching reading. It spells out some of the ways how ELLs learn to read may differ from how native speakers of English acquire literacy. For example, ELLs may initially quickly attain reading fluency, but that fluency may slow down at a point where understanding word meaning becomes increasingly important. That's because ELLs often have to learn the meanings of words at the same time they're learning to read them, the researchers explain.

They stress the importance of all educators receiving professional development in how to work with ELLs. That's a point that was also made in a study that I blogged about recently that featured an elementary school where researchers reported RTI was implemented badly with ELLs.

The researchers urge educators to monitor carefully the progress of ELLs and use interventions, even if research is scant on how RTI applies specifically to ELLs. They argue that "ELLs will be better served if teachers and school personnel do not expect or accept low performance and if they do not view students as undeserving of effective interventions."

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