Successful RTI implementation integrates all school personnel and community stakeholders in the process to increase impact and align goals and priorities. School-based volunteers play essential roles in assisting in the implementation of RTI interventions, increasing communication with parents, and providing supplemental professional development in coordination with classroom educators.
How do you respond to support personnel unions when they say that volunteers make it easier for Districts to lay off paid aides? Have you run into this issue in your work?
Our program, The Minnesota Reading Corps, utilizes AmeriCorps members to provide supplemental practice to students. AmeriCorps provisions are clear that AmeriCorps members cannot replace staff and because we are clear that our members are not to perform duties that could be confused with duties of a classroom aide (bus duty, hall monitoring, etc.) this has not been an issue for us.
How do you suggest I begin the conversation with my school volunteer coordinator about working together?
I think the starting place would be to ask your Volunter Coordinator to (or your school could do this) seek an AmeriCorps program that was interested in working with you or to be in conversation with your State Service Commission about starting an AmeirCorps program for this specific purpose. In our experience we’ve needed to have AmeriCorps members willing to give 900 or 1700 hours/year to this effort as the training is intense and the schools rely on our members managing a caseload of approximately 15 children that they see every day for 20 minutes. It’s not realistic to expect this level of intensity and fidelity to a model implementation with volunteers that can’t give this kind of commitment. We are currently working on a training model that would bring in community volunteers to work with children one hour/week but it would be under the supervision of our AmeriCorps members and would provide a double dose of one of the simpler interventions—Duet Reading or Repeated Reading.
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Authors: Audrey Suker, Jason Waite
Photo by: Ron Cogswell, Flickr User (link)