Is Your Intervention Cheating on You?

So, how many of you snickered the first time you heard the term “Fidelity of Implementation” at a workshop or conference?  The first time I heard it I thought I had entered into a binding nuptial at school.  Many of you have probably heard it go by several different names:  Fidelity of Implementation (FOI), Treatment Integrity (TI), Procedural Reliability (PR), etc. A general definition for FOI is the following: “delivering an intervention or treatment the way it is intended or prescribed with accuracy and consistency”.  This would include the technical aspects of delivery as indicated by the publisher or research study, and it would also include temporal aspects related to frequency (how often?) and duration (how long?).

Regardless of what you call it, though, it is often an under-appreciated aspect of the RTI process.  The truth is, if most of us were to track the percentage of time devoted to FOI, we would likely find it lacking in terms of time allocation at RTI meetings.  Many RTI teams spend a good portion of their time analyzing the problem, creating goals, picking progress monitoring tools, and devising interventions; however, how much time is spent discussing/tracking FOI?  The bottom line is we cannot attribute student outcome data to specific interventions unless we measure the extent to which the intervention plan was implemented.

So what do you think?  Check out the list below to see if your interventions are in trouble!

Top 5 ways to tell if your intervention is cheating:

5.  Merely mentioning the term “Intervention Integrity Check” elicits high levels of anxiety for all those involved.
4.  The intervention just isn’t keeping the same schedule it purports to keep (it is keeping weird hours).
3.  The implementation enthusiasm just isn’t there anymore.
2.  The intervention results are just too good to be true.
1.  Your intervention needs counseling.

Will you “renew your vow” to measure or track the FOI of your interventions? Have your interventions been cheating on you?  

~Jason Cochran

Nobody Rises to Low Expectations

The title for this post came from a quote I heard in a professional development workshop a few years ago in regard to raising the achievement expectations for all students, especially students with special needs or learning challenges.  The basic premise of the presentation was that artificial ceilings should not be accepted for specific students depending on their perceived “learning potential”.  Talk about a major paradigm shift!  To say the presentation made a lasting impact on me personally and professionally would be an understatement.  The following were some of the implications I gleaned from the presentation that day:

1 – Encourage your high-performing students to perform even higher!   Challenge them to go above and beyond the grade-level expectations and benchmarks.

2 – Do not presume that students with disabilities cannot perform as well as their non-disabled peers. As a school psychologist, I have seen students with disabilities surpass many peers and grade-level expectations with the appropriate interventions.

3 – Rely on data to drive instruction and intervention.  Hunches and “gut-feelings” can often lead to stereotypes and artificial ceilings.

4 – Everyone enjoys to be challenged! We are intrinsically motivated by meeting new and challenging goals.

5 – As we set the bar higher for our students, we also set the bar higher for ourselves as educators.

We know that merely raising the expectations isn’t enough to raise student performance; rather it takes a strong community of support from fellow educators along with progress monitoring and intervention tools to meet the specific needs of each student.  All of this underscores the importance of Professional Learning Communities, research-based interventions (academic and behavioral) within each tier of provision, and reliable and valid Curriculum-Based Assessments to frequently measure progress.

Raising the bar shouldn’t mean raising the time and energy requirements of educators if the appropriate tools and resources are being used efficiently.

We’re ready to set the bar high.  How about you?

~Jason Cochran