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Last month, a daylong visit to Westview Elementary School in Canton (IL) provided 15 Western Illinois University College of Education and Human Services (COEHS) faculty members with the opportunity to observe how Response to Intervention (RtI) principles are put into practice in an elementary school setting. Pictured are some of the individuals who participated in the visit and panel discussion. Front row (center): Jeanine Wilker, WIU assistant professor, curriculum and instruction (C&I). Second row, L to R: Heather Medina, Canton, fourth-grade teacher; Cortney VanHouten, Canton, K-12 reading specialist (WIU alumna); Melissa Stinnett, WIU associate professor, C&I; Monica Wright, WIU instructor, C&I (WIU alumna); Megan Lyons, WIU assistant professor, C&I; Mary Jensen, WIU professor, C&I; and Melinda Grimm, WIU instructor, C&I. Third row, L to R: Sara Simonson, WIU professor, C&I; Krista Smith, Canton, first-grade teacher (WIU alumna); Michelle Franzoni, Canton, K-12 reading specialist (WIU alumna); Joanne Sellen, WIU assistant professor, education and interdisciplinary studies/ed leadership (EIS); Pam Campbell, WIU assistant professor, C&I (WIU alumna); Sebastian Szyjka, WIU assistant professor, C&I (WIU alumnus); Tami LaPrad, WIU instructor, EIS; Tom Cody, WIU professor, EIS; Gary Daytner, WIU associate professor, EIS; and Heather Crouch, WIU instructor, C&I (WIU alumna).
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Grant Enables WIU Ed Faculty Members to Visit Canton (IL) Elementary School to Help Inform Teacher Prep Programs

October 15, 2014


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MACOMB, IL — Last month, a daylong visit to Westview Elementary School in Canton (IL) provided 15 Western Illinois University College of Education and Human Services (COEHS) faculty members with the opportunity to observe how Response to Intervention (RtI) principles are put into practice in an elementary school setting.

Funded by a Illinois Higher Education (IHE) Partnership Grant through the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and the Office of Special Projects (OSEP), the Sept. 12 trip, according to WIU Department of Curriculum and Instruction (C & I) Literacy Professor Sara Simonson, enabled Western faculty from the C & I and the education and interdisciplinary studies (EIS) departments to connect with the Westview and Lincoln Elementary School educators—many of whom are WIU alumni—to learn about their daily routines, assessment practices and data-collection methods. Simonson noted the knowledge they garnered during the trip will inform the faculty members' instruction and practices at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

"Our primary objective is to increase the number of undergraduate and graduate educator preparation programs that integrate RtI content into their program curricula (courses and field experiences). The project's key principles of RtI include multi-tier system of supports (MTSS), universal core instruction, evidence-based practices, the problem-solving process, formal and informal assessments, data-based decision making, positive behavior supports, parent involvement/collaboration and integrity of implementation," Simonson explained. "The long-term objectives of this project incorporate increasing the supply of educators prepared to implement RtI practices after completing approved courses of study, increasing the capacity of educator preparation programs to partner with school districts to increase the number of field placement sites in districts and schools effectively implementing RtI and increasing the capacity of educator preparation programs to partner with school districts to increase the number of highly qualified graduates employed by low-performing districts with high populations of students from low-income backgrounds."

Simonson noted 10 members of Westview and Lincoln elementary schools provided the WIU faculty members with invaluable firsthand perspectives of how RtI is practiced in such a setting.

"The four administrators [Roy Webb, SueEllen Stephenson, Tad DeRenzy and Bridgette Dennis], two reading specialists [Cortney VanHouten and Michelle Franzoni], and the four classroom teachers [Heather Medina, Krista Smith, Nicole Cain and Kenny VanHouten] added a great deal to our discussion and knowledge base through a panel discussion, classroom observations and the RtI presentation. The highlight for me was the extended discussions this trip generated among my colleagues and across the curriculum and instruction and the educational and interdisciplinary studies departments, not only on the ride home but also during the following days too. It was an extremely rewarding experience," she said.

According to Simonson, this is the fifth and final year of the grant (2011-2015), during which time she has served as the technical assistance coordinator (TAC) and representative for the grant at WIU. In this role, she has worked with representatives from eight other universities across Illinois.

"Priority was given to the eight Illinois institutions, with the largest educator preparation programs. The Illinois Higher Education (IHE) Partnership includes Eastern Illinois University, Illinois State University, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago State University, National Louis University, Northern Illinois University, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and Western Illinois University," Simonson explained. "The first major task of the project staff (program coordinators and technical assistance coordinators) was to perform a 'crosswalk' among the revised Illinois Professional Teaching Standards (IPTS), the 13 Illinois State Board of Education training modules and the IHE Blueprint. The project staff identified common language, concepts or principles among the data sources, and the crosswalk then served as the framework for establishing a foundation for consensus building with IHE deans and program chairs. This enabled the IHE Partnership to standardize the delivery of RtI content as it revised IPTS and IHE Blueprint. The IHE Partnership collaborated with the I-RtI Network and their regional/area wide coordinators and invited IHE faculty to participate in scheduled training opportunities. The TAC at each institution provided the IHE teams with professional development as it related to the revised IPTS and integration of RtI content into course curricula. The TACs provided ongoing support and technical assistance to the IHE teams through conducting and supporting the review of pre-service and graduate program syllabi."

WIU faculty members who attended include: Pam Campbell, assistant professor, C&I; Tom Cody, professor, EIS; Heather Crouch, instructor, C&I; Gary Daytner, associate professor, EIS; Anne Gregory, chair, C&I; Melinda Grimm, instructor, C&I; Mary Jensen, professor, C&I; Tami LaPrad, instructor, EIS; Megan Lyons, assistant professor, C&I; Sara Simonson, professor, C&I; Joanne Sellen, assistant professor, EIS; Melissa Stinnett, associate professor, C&I; Sebastian Szyjka, assistant professor, cC&I; Jeanine Wilker, assistant professor, C&I; and Monica Wright, instructor, C&I.

For more information, contact Simonson at (309) 298-2510 or via email at SD-Simonson@wiu.edu.

Posted By: WIU News (U-Relations@wiu.edu)
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