Title I Schools Achieve! Tapteal Elementary
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Tapteal Elementary - Pre-K to Grade 5
It takes a team, working together, to raise a child...Principal, Rhonda Pratt



At each grade level, Tapteal teachers share students, which creates a culture of shared responsibility among these colleagues. Working in grade-level professional learning communities or PLCs, teachers plan instructional strategies together, modify student grouping, and create, implement and analyze common assessments.

At the highest level, Tapteal educators depend on:

Smart Tools & Deep Expertise Support Diagnostic Process
This critical ethos of communities of learning extends itself across instructional support to specialists for music, PE, library/information literacy and art. Similarly, the resource room teacher, instructional specialist, speech/language/pathologist staff and highly-trained educational assistants are all part of the team.

Each fifth-grade teacher is a specialist in a specific content area — reading, science/writing, math — so students rotate through the classrooms of three experts every day. In math and reading communities, students also receive specific interventions and extensions designed to help learning.

How does the Tapteal instructional team determine student placement?

  1. Use multiple assessment points for each grade level.
  2. Apply a weighting system for each assessment.
  3. Align with the Richland SD Reading Benchmarks.
  4. Use diagnostic testing as needed.

Data Meetings for Data-driven Decision Making
Response to Intervention (RTI) specialists meet with each PLC throughout the year. These are critical get-togethers during which teachers examine all the available assessment and diagnostic data, and identify the interventions they will initiate with each child. As teachers move forward, they depend on formative assessment data to address individual need, monitor progress and adjust curriculum and grouping.

An established protocol guides these meetings. Inclusive and collaborative, data meetings engage staff from general and special education. Out of these meetings come direct-to-student services — based on needs not labels —structured on RTI’s three-tiered model of response. Tiered instruction gives teachers the power to adjust levels of instructional intensity within a system weighted on the side of early diagnostic activities and prevention. Here’s a manual that explains the principles and components of the RTI system.

Instructional Support Team — On-the-Job Peer Support & Guidance
Teachers with children who struggle to develop academic or positive behavior skills can draw on the rich resources and peer support of Tapteal’s Instructional Support Team (IST) — a powerful mix of interdisciplinary expertise. Classroom teachers, an Instructional specialist, special education teacher, psychologist, speech-language pathologist, counselor and principal, Rhonda Pratt, are on the team. IST meetings are short and intense brainstorming sessions that give teachers a plan, a peer coach and a follow-up date.

Here’s what an IST agenda looks like.



Facilitator introduces process and problem

30 seconds

Child’s primary teacher makes an opening statement and introduces work samples

5 minutes

IST team asks clarifying questions

5 minutes

IST team brainstorms strategies

10 minutes

Teacher classifies the strategies:

  1. Try right away
  2. Try in the future
  3. Tried and doesn’t work

5 minutes

Support plan is developed with timelines, monitoring plan, jobs assigned, coach and IST follow up meeting date

5 minutes

In a 15-minute follow-up meeting, the team examines the evidence of success brought about by successful interventions and takes a close look at the unsuccessful interventions. They analyze why these techniques did not work. The team might come up with new strategies, a new coach and a new follow-up date if the teacher needs more IST support or a special education referral if the child is not responding.

Star2 Protocol for Continuous Improvement
Teaching resources go where the need is greatest — the most qualified staff work with students who struggle the most. Keep in mind too, that at Tapteal, teachers work in professional learning communities — PLCs — structured around the idea that all teachers are responsible for all students. Operationally it plays out as students spend time with multiple grade-level teachers, and as needed, RTI specialists.

Students are placed into reading communities as well, organized around reading levels. Diagnostic assessment data determine placement dynamically — Tapteal’s PLCs, along with RTI specialists, place, group and re-group young readers to optimize learning potential.

Within this meta-structure, Tapteal teachers use the Star2 Protocol as a way to improve their own instructional practice. Principal Rhonda Pratt favors this job-embedded, ongoing professional development as a constant and rigorous model for better teaching and deeper learning. At the highest level, the STAR2 Protocol focuses on the essential components of powerful teaching and learning — skills, relationship, and knowledge and its application.

Teachers use the STAR2 Protocol when they observe in each other’s classrooms and reflect on their own practice. They capture their observations and enjoin an in-depth discussion about what they have seen. They reflect on their own practice, and how what they’ve seen and learned through discussion can enrich what they do in the classroom every day.

Reading Curriculum, Materials & Practice

Instructional fidelity to the core reading curricula at Tapteal is one element of this school’s success. K- Read Well and Houghton Mifflin texts for grades one through five form the primary content, taught to the rhythm of Richland School District’s pacing charts. At Tapteal, children who struggle with reading are able to take advantage of alternate and replacement curriculum. Looking at growth-over-time, specialists and PLC members use these data to select curriculum that will bring these students up to standard.

Pacing charts Grade 1 | Grade 2 | Grade 3 | Grade 4 | Grade 5

Reading Benchmarks for Richland School District

Student Group




Reading core

Use with fidelity to the original intent, activities and objectives.


Reading interventions

  • Richland SD Gold Standard Interventions for Reading

  • Determined by RTI specialists and PLCs
  • Use at least 3 data points to determine the right intervention
  • Look at growth over time

Kindergarten (half- day program)

Kindergarten Read Well

Reading Mastery for students who do not respond to Read Well


75 minutes of reading daily

  • 30 minutes with the whole group + teacher
  • 45 minutes in small groups with the teacher and educational assistants

1st grade

Reading core

Houghton Mifflin

Replacement core for Tier 3 students

Reading Mastery

75 minutes each day

  • Whole class and guided reading

Reading communities = 45 minutes each day

  • Students are grouped by reading level and attend a specific reading community
  • RTI specialists and educational assistants provide support
  • Students who meet or exceed standard access extensions to core
  • Tier 2 students do skill work at their level with support
  • Tier 3 students take advantage of replacement curriculum for up to 90 minutes each day

2nd grade

Reading core

Houghton Mifflin

Tier 1 and Tier 2 students

  • 90 minutes of HM core every day, which includes whole group, independent practice and guided reading
  • Tier 2 students get 30 minutes of support from educational assistants to develop skills during this instruction time for HM core


Replacement core for Tier 3 students

Reading Mastery or LiPS (Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing® (LiPS®) Program) for the neediest students. LiPS is a multisensory program created to teach individuals English. LiPS uses guided discovery techniques that enable students to hear, see and feel the speech sounds of English.)


Tier 3 students

  • 90 minutes of Reading Mastery or LiPS every day with support from educational assistants and RTI specialists


3rd grade

Reading core

Houghton Mifflin

Tier 1 and Tier 2 students

  • 60 minutes of HM core every day
  • 30 minutes of guided reading/novel studies
  • Tier 2 students get support from educational assistants for 30 minutes during guided reading/novel studies


Replacement core for Tier 3 students

Reading Mastery or LiPS

Tier 3 students

  • Reading Mastery for 90 minutes every day

4th grade

Reading core

Houghton Mifflin

Tier 1 students

  • 60 minutes of HM core ever day
  • 30 minutes of guided reading/novel studies

Tier 2 students

Replacement core for Tier 3 students

Corrective Reading or Reading Mastery or LiPs

Tier 3 students

  • Highest students use Corrective Reading for 90 minutes every day.
  • Middle students use Reading Mastery for 90 minutes every day.
  • Lowest students use LIPs for 90 minutes every day.

5th grade

Specialty Model

Students also participate in 30-minute math and reading communities

Students rotate among 3 different teachers every day

  • Reading
  • Science/Writing
  • Math
  • Interventions/extensions

Reading core

Houghton Mifflin


Tier 1 students — reading

  • 60 minutes of HM core every day
  • 30 minutes of novel studies

Tier 2 students — reading

  • 60 minutes of HM core every day
  • 30 minutes of Read Naturally or 6 Minute Solution or centers from the Florida Center for Reading Research with support from educational assistants

Replacement core for Tier 3 students

Corrective Reading or Reading Mastery or LiPs

Tier 3 students

  • Highest students use Corrective Reading for 90 minutes every day
  • Middle students use Reading Mastery for 90 minutes every day
  • Lowest students use LIPs for 90 minutes every day

PLC Collaboration Time
Early release every Friday opens up time for each PLC to collaborate. At the center of these conversations is Tapteal’s school improvement plan (SIP). Each PLC sets norms and goals based on the SIP.

Planning time dialogue is focused on Rebecca Dufour’s 4 Questions

  1. What do we expect all students to learn?
  2. How will we know if and when they learned it?
  3. How will we respond when some students don’t learn?
  4. How will we respond when some students have learned it already?

YouTube Video: Solution Tree: Rebecca DuFour, 4 Critical Questions of a PLC

  The Blueprint

Professional Development
Student Support


   Updated 12/5/2012

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