Hamblen County schools are trying to increase learning proficiency further through programs such as RTI squared and Spire.

RTI squared stands for Response to Instruction and Intervention, a program implemented by the state to help with learning proficiency. It involves math and English, according to Dr. Sarah Cates, director of the program for Hamblen County Schools.

So, how is it implemented?

“A lot of our schools in Hamblen County, we find it’s the best practice to have a power hour, so they set aside an hour of the day and they implement it using the Walk to Learn model,” Cates said.

What that means is all students walk to where they need to get their instruction.

It’s broken up into three parts. Tier 1 involves all students; if a student is deemed Tier 2 they receive an additional 30 minutes of instruction; and Tier 3 students receive 45 additional minutes of instruction.

The goal is to try and lift those up who may be struggling.

Each school goes “all hands on deck.”

Even teaching assistants are trained to help meet the additional needs of the students, Cates said.

The program was started in elementary schools in 2012. It has since spread to middle and high schools.

“It is a lot more intensive in elementary school, but our middle schools and high schools are moving consistently into it,” Cates said.

How the students are placed in each tier comes from testing three times a year with a program called AIMS Web Plus. It’s a skills based assessment different than standard testing like TNReady, Cates said.

Skills based assessments dig deeper into how words and numbers are used.

Students are tested in the fall, winter and spring.

Cates said students are progress monitored every other week to make sure students are going forward and not regressing.

In order to increase consistency to intervention across the district, the school system purchased a skill-based lesson program that all students and teachers use to help with students on their individual levels.

Spire is not in place yet, but some schools have pieces of it have been put in place.

“They have seen great success,” Cates said.

The learning program should be in place by the end of September, Cates said.

Spire is for reading. For math, five schools are piloting a program this year to see if the school system would be possible to purchase next year.

Right now, all principals are alerted about RTI squared and the program is being implemented districtwide.

Will student scores go up next year?

“We should see a significant increase, yes, because we’re closing those gaps,” Cates said.