Success in the Classroom- Elementary RTI
Posted on 08/18/2023
Success in the Classroom- Elementary RTIChattanooga, Tenn. - Hamilton County Schools has extended the Response to Intervention (RTI) program to provide an RTI teacher in every elementary school across the district for the 2023-’24 school year to decrease student knowledge gaps and improve student performance.

Hamilton County Schools has provided RTI options in schools across the district for the past few years. As the district expands the program with a dedicated RTI teacher in all elementary schools, we take a look back at the success and opportunities for growth in elementary RTI.

Lauren Denton, RTI teacher at Battle Academy, is entering her third year working with students to mitigate learning gaps. RTI aims to decrease learning gaps for students by providing tiered instructional support. These supports include low small group ratios for personalized instruction based on the students’ needs. Denton explained successful RTI includes analyzing a variety of data, classroom observations, and individualized conversations with students and families. RTI gathers student data to identify areas of deficiency within ELA and Math. Based on these results, students are scheduled for small group instruction to support learning in the identified areas. Small group instruction is built into a student’s schedule to ensure students receive intervention and enrichment, classroom instruction, and elective opportunities.

Denton specifically identified Battle fifth-grade student Tevin Watkins as a student who has shown significant improvement through RTI. Tevin is a bright student who struggled to overcome learning gaps in reading, although he showed strong academic performance in other areas. As he moved through his education, subjects he excelled in, such as math, were becoming more challenging due to his reading gaps. As Tevin has worked through RTI, he has decreased his reading gaps and increased his academic performance in a variety of ways, including testing achievement.

Tevin has also shown improved confidence in school, leading to other areas of success, such as stronger connections to peers and staff and decreased adverse behavior.

In speaking with Tevin, he expressed his growth with RTI, “TCAP last year was easier than in third grade.” He identified this was a result of being able to understand more of the test due to reading improvements.

Denton spoke about her excitement for the continued support of RTI, ”RTI is powerful because we meet students where they are at that moment, and that helps a student feel successful and confident.” Giving students confidence in their abilities creates an environment for student growth.

Small group ratios also resulted in increased student connection to a trusted adult in their building. Sitting in small groups allows students to feel their teacher sees and knows them creating a level of trust that can occasionally be challenging in a large group setting when students are already struggling.

Denton expressed her love for her position by saying, “RTI combines my passion for helping students find joy in learning, meeting students where they are, and forming a connection to my skillset in gap closure.” Denton is a powerful example of why RTI works. By utilizing highly-skilled educators to develop students’ passion for learning and giving them the skills to learn, RTI teachers are paving the way for positive long-term outcomes.

As RTI continues to expand to include an RTI teacher at all elementary schools in Hamilton County, we are confident we will experience a decrease in learning gaps as our students move through their educational journeys. By investing upfront in our youngest learners, we create a foundation for future success.