Caitlin S. Flinn, Ed.S., is currently employed as a Nationally Certified School Psychologist at Eastern Lancaster County School District in New Holland, Pennsylvania. She is working toward her doctoral degree in school psychology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Her main interests include response-to-intervention, systems-level change, rate of improvement, and data analysis teams.
Andrew E. McCrea, M.S., NCSP, is Director of Pupil Services at Lower Dauphin School District and is a Ph.D. student in the Educational Leadership program at Penn State University. Andy’s experience focuses on implementing student growth methodologies in the public school setting.
Matthew R. Ferchalk, Ed.S, is currently employed as a Nationally Certified School Psychologist in the Northern Lebanon School District in Pennsylvania. He is currently working on his doctoral degree at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. His interests included behavioral consultation, data analysis teaming, and the application of technology in education.
How We Got Started
As the response to intervention model entered the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the state training and technical assistance providers began to define specifics for educators to apply to their work with students. One area of response to intervention that had not been clearly defined was how to graph, calculate, and interpret rate of improvement. A good friend and fellow school psychologist to Caitlin, Christina Marco-Fies, discussed concerns with the two-point rate of improvement calculation that was being proposed because it did not include all of the data points collected during progress monitoring of students. Furthermore, this simple calculation was open to poor reliability in that it was heavily influenced by outlier data points.
In 2008, Caitlin Flinn created her first Excel graph for school psychologist colleagues working in Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit #13. After sharing the first graph and set of directions, it was apparent that revisions were needed to look at growth for the entire school year. In the early summer of 2008, the second version of the graph and directions were shared with a broader network of educators and trainers including IU 13, IU 3, Derry Township School District, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and Cornwall-Lebanon School District. This set of directions became known as “The Diego Graphs” to many, which is a reference to a cartoon character of a children’s television show.
As The Diego Graphs grew in popularity, Caitlin decided to present this skill set to her state association for school psychologists in the fall of 2008. Andy McCrea came across Caitlin’s handout and many discussion followed. The original handout had addressed graphing and calculating rate of improvement for individual students, but Andy was interested in using the Excel sheet for groups of students. They created templates for small groups of students that Andy was able to use at the school district in which he works.
In the fall of 2009, they created a basic website to house information, handouts, and presentations. Also that fall, Caitlin and Andy presented a three-hour workshop at their state association’s conference for school psychologists that addressed graphing, calculating, and interpreting rate of improvement.
In the spring of 2010, Caitlin and Andy took their content to the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) in Chicago, IL. To their surprise, the mini skills workshop room was filled beyond capacity. Over 85 participants learned a skill set for calcualting rate of improvement that the participants indicated was not available to them elsewhere.
Caitlin and Andy have continued their work to operationalize graphing, calculating, and interpreting of rate of improvement within the broader context of implementing response to intervention. Based on their work, there continues to be a need for this information and this new website is meant to make it accessible to anyone.