It seems everywhere you look today the initials "RTI" keep popping up. Originally thought of as falling under the umbrella of special education, Response to Intervention (RTI), when implemented in its purest form, is what lead article author Diane Lauer calls "a natural evolution of what good middle level schools have focused on for years." As we all seek to discover ways to help every child find success, the RTI framework for intervention is a good place to begin.

Patti Kinney
Principal, National Center for Middle Level Leadership

Responding to RTI in the Middle Grades
Across the nation, middle level leaders are either preparing for or are in the process of implementing RTI frameworks to increase individual student success. Diane Lauer, director of instructional coaches in the Thompson School District in Loveland, CO, discusses the core principals of RTI and offers helpful tips for implementing RTI in your school. (Continue reading)

From the Field—RTI in Action
Find out how two Colorado middle schools have been successfully implementing RTI and raising student achievement as a result.

News and Notes

RTI Talk: February 19
What do we really know about effective reading instruction for English language learners (ELL)? Join the RTI Action Network for its upcoming RTI Talk, "English Language Learners and RTI." Dr. Nonie Lesaux of the Harvard Graduate School of Education will answer your questions about effective literacy and English language instruction for English learners in the elementary and middle school levels. Many ELL students experience reading difficulties and may benefit from prevention and intervention approaches consistent with RTI. Submit questions in advance or join the talk live on Thursday, February 19, 2009, at 1:00 p.m. EST. If you miss out on the live conversation, transcripts of this presentation, along with past sessions, will be available on the Web site at

March is Middle Level Education Month!
This year's theme is "Celebrating the Past, Looking to the Future," and in honor of the history of middle level education, we are asking individuals who have made significant contributions to the field of middle level education to respond to the question: "What significant lessons from the past must today's middle level leaders not forget as we move into the future?" Their answers are being compiled into a series of short podcasts and will be posted at near the beginning of March. Don't miss out hearing what advice long-time middle level educators such as John Lounsbury, Paul George, Sue Swaim, Nancy Doda, Don and Sally Clark, Ken McEwin, and others are giving to current middle level leaders.

The Latest Research in Middle Level Education
Eighteen states are involved in the Schools to Watch program, sponsored by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform, of which NASSP is a member. The latest edition of the National Middle School Association's research in middle level education details the results of a study that looked at the perceived level of implementation of key tenets of the middle school concept as outlined by This We Believe (NMSA, 2003) in schools designated as Kentucky Schools to Watch as compared to non-designated schools. These key tenets are very closely aligned with the cornerstone strategies found in Breaking Ranks in the Middle. Results of the study indicated that schools designated as Kentucky Schools to Watch have a slightly higher perceived level of implementation of key middle level concepts and overall higher levels of academic achievement. Read the report in full.

Improving Instruction: Building a Culture for Differentiation
Come to the Washington, DC, area for a workshop and stay over for the Fourth of July! On June 29 and 30, NASSP will be presenting Improving Instruction: Building a Culture for Differentiation with internationally known author and consultant Rick Wormeli, in Reston, VA. Rick is the author of Fair isn't Always Equal and Differentiation: From Planning to Practice Grades 6–12. This highly interactive two-day workshop is designed to help school leaders:

  • Understand what differentiated instruction and assessment is and what it isn't
  • Identify differentiated instructional and assessment practices in the classroom setting
  • Understand the connection between assessment and practice in the differentiated classroom
  • Examine how school and classroom grading policies impact differentiation practices
  • Support teacher efforts to learn and implement differentiation strategies
  • Model differentiation practices in the school's professional development efforts.

For more information or to register for this workshop, click here.

Impact of High Accountability on Middle Level Schools
Last spring, many of our middle level members were asked to take part in an electronic research study being conducted by Nancy Doda and Paul George to determine the impact of high-level accountability on middle level schools. More information is forthcoming about this study, but if you are interested in viewing the results of the data, visit and click on "Resources." Use "NASSP" as the user ID and "middlelevel" as the password.

21st Century Skills Bullying Prevention Film Competition

"It would be difficult to find a classroom project that better illustrates the range of skills currently termed '21st Century literacies,' and considered increasingly essential for academic and real-world achievement."
—National Council of Teachers of English, "Council Chronicle"

NASSP has partnered with Stories of Us to establish a national competition for student films developed and produced using the Stories of Us method. The method emphasizes the inquiry process as students research the subject, collect data, and build realistic timelines to explore how bullying develops, then translate their findings into short film scripts. Designed for middle and high school students, the Stories of Us active learning curriculum combines a range of 21st Century literacy skills and meets English language arts and health education standards. At the same time, the curriculum promotes social cohesion and helps reduce bullying in schools. Visit for more information.

Breaking Ranks in the Middle Training
Bring a leadership team to the next BRIM training that will provide middle level leaders the tools and strategies needed to help address the unique challenges facing middle level schools. The next national training will be held in the Washington, DC, area on April 3–4 (register soon—it's filling up fast). For more information on this training or on how to bring training to your school, contact Rebecca Wise at 800-253-7746, ext. 329, or