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Holly Academy has been educating children in grades K-8 in Genesee and Oakland Counties since 1999. The school’s mission is to “achieve individual academic success for all students through a positive family, school, and community partnership.” Holly Academy supports the mindset that the school “family” should celebrate all students and their unique, individual achievements. Holly Academy produces strong academic results through a comprehensive academic curriculum that is integrated into a supportive school that encourages high levels of family and community involvement.
Holly Academy has been awarded federal dissemination grant funds over a two-year period to conduct research and evaluation of the Response to Intervention (RtI) pyramid model. Through collaboration in PLCs, RtI translates legal mandates of NCLB into a clear picture of how to create three tiered pyramid interventions to close gaps in student learning and resolve behavioral problems.

Project Background:

The RtI model was developed by Austin Buffum, Mike Mattos and Chris Weber, all educators who have led exemplary schools and districts. Buffum first became interested in developing this model as a deputy superintendent with the Capistrano Unified School District where he helped to implement 3 Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) at San Clemente High School (SCHS). The basic idea behind PLCs and the RtI model is that teachers in the classroom need to be the driving force behind instructional innovation. PLCs consist of collegial groups of administrators and school staff who are united in their commitment to student learning. They share a vision, work and learn collaboratively, visit and review other classrooms, and participate in decision making. PLCs benefit staff and students by reducing teacher isolation and developing highly informed and passionately committed teachers, thereby increasing academic gains for students (Hord,1997b). Such innovation requires that schools build in time for professional collaboration between educators. Moreover, schools often have to revise their class schedules so as to create significant collaborative time the PLC teams to meet. The success of the early model of PLCs and RtI implemented at SCHS has led to the fully developed RtI model through collaboration between Buffum, Mattos, and Weber. This model is most completely described in their book, Pyramid Response to Intervention: RTI, Professional Learning Comunities, and How to Respond when Kids Don’t Learn.

Because of the professional experience of Buffum, Mattos, and Weber as educators, the RtI model focuses a school’s PLCs on four guiding questions:

(1) What exactly do we expect all students to learn?

(2) How will we know if and when they’ve learned it?

(3) How will we respond when some students don’t learn and

(4) How will we respond when some students have already learned?


Michigan Department of Education