Journal of Texas School Women Executives, Volume I, Issue 1 2012 RtI: Not Just a One Sided Triangle Coral L.Wilkens M.Ed. Director of Special Education, Quinlin ISD The twenty-first century school is charged with serving a socio-culturally diverse group of students with varying needs and interests. These needs and interests require schools to prepare students for life successes through a balanced education that ensures both mastery of academic skills and the social competence required to be productive adults (Payton et al., 2008). In addition to the cultural diversity of the millenniumâ€™s student group is the diversity of student abilities and motivations for learning. Some students are set on the track for academic excellence, extra-curricular activities, and college readiness, whereas others are disengaged and struggle to meet minimum academic requirements. Students who struggle or who are chronically disengaged make up more than 40% of the high school population who have progressed from elementary to middle to high school (Payton et al., 2008). Without intervention, these students will be left behind. As educators it is important to recognize that focus on academic intervention alone is not enough to sustain educational success for todayâ€™s learner. Emerging research linking academics and behavioral success (Bohanon, Goodman, & McIntosh, 2009) indicates that the integration of the two could lead to improved student outcomes. Recently Dr. Sara Rimm-Kaufman (2006) in a three year longitudinal study at the University of Virginia, Curry School of Education, connected low academic skills with problem behavior. Behavior problems in low performing students are evident as early as kindergarten and can follow a student through his or her academic career (Bohanon et al, 2009; Wilkens, 2002). Like academic interventions, positive behavioral supports (PBS) are effective in promoting academic success ( Rimm-Kaufman, 2006). In her study on teaching pro-social skills to students, Rimm- Kauffman found that elementary students who were taught these skills performed better socially, had improved academics, and felt more connected to school and their teachers than peers who had not been exposed to pro-social skills. Sugai and Horner (2007) purport that student achievement is not simply indicative of good teaching but rather a combination of good teaching in conjunction with good classroom management. Unfortunately, some educators argue against implementing a combined approach to academic and behavioral programming (Payton et al., 2008). Their arguments suggest that a holistic approach deters from time spent teaching core academic material. However, documented research (Payton et al., 2008; Rimm-Kaufman, 2006) indicates the teaching of social skills in conjunction with academics can be correlated to an increase in student performance on standardized tests and grades (Rimm-Kaufman, 2006). Northeast Foundation for Children, in duplicated studies, found students who participated in social skills instruction concurrent with academics showed significantly greater gains in social and academic functioning than students from comparison schools in which no social problem-solving or social skills curriculum was operating (Elliott, 1993, 1995, Rimm-Kaufman, 2006).
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