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NYM school district to focus on intervention

At the New York Mills School Board meeting on Monday, elementary principal Judith Brockway detailed the school’s planned implementation of “Response to Intervention” strategies in the upcoming school year.

According to the Minnesota Department of Education, RTI is a framework used to ensure the provision of high-quality instruction and interventions that are matched to the needs of students requiring additional academic and behavioral support.

At the meeting, Brockway explained RTI with an analogy:

“If you have a sick child… they might have a fever or something, but you wouldn’t automatically put them in the hospital. You take them to the doctor and the doctor’s going to give them some medicine to try. You try something and that’s your intervention, you try something else and that’s your response to intervention. Ultimately, you might need to bring them to the hospital, which would be special ed,” she explained.

“If a student’s not working in the classroom, we automatically think special ed. But that’s not necessarily the case,” she added.

“To put it in a nutshell: Response to Intervention is screening your students, where are they at, then monitoring how they’re doing. You put the interventions in place, and then you see how students are responding to the interventions. If they’re effective then you continue, if they’re not then you try different interventions,” incoming high school principal Michelle Young explained further in a phone interview.

She said potential interventions could be to “chunk” reading materials – breaking them down into manageable pieces – so a student can work on comprehending each piece rather than being overwhelmed by the entirety of a piece.

After a formative assessment, such as a pop quiz, the student’s comprehension of the material is analyzed, at which point a second RTI would be implemented, such as a group reading, “jigsawing” the material, or one-on-one instruction.

Superintendent Blaine Novak added that “RTI has been around for a long time. We’re just making a very concerted effort towards it this year. It’s good teaching,” he said, noting that it focuses on student success and teacher excellence.

“Its best practice…you look at how students are achieving, and you’re continuously trying to improve that,” Young added on Tuesday.

In other news, the board:

-Was informed that school-wide water usage was higher in the most recent school year than in years previous, but not to a degree that was significant enough to warrant investigation. Heating and electricity costs were down in that same time period.

-Approved the sale of aid anticipation certificates to Ehlers Investment Partners.

“What we’re doing here is borrowing money to prevent cash flow problems,” Novak explained.

School districts, he said, do not receive all of their funding at once for a given year, instead receiving a portion of it one year and the remainder in the following year.

This year’s split will be closer to 90/10 than in previous years, Novak added.

The principal on this year’s aid anticipation loan will be $1,115,000, according to a document supplied at the meeting.