Director of Elementary Education
What is Response to Intervention (RTI)?
RTI is the practice of meeting the academic and behavioral needs of all students through a variety of services containing the following key elements:
• High-quality instruction and scientific research-based tiered interventions aligned with individual student need
• Frequent monitoring of student progress to make results-based academic and/or behavioral decisions
• Application of student response data to important educational decisions (such as those regarding placement, intervention, curriculum, and instructional goals and methodologies)
The instructional approaches used within the general education setting should result in academic and/or behavioral progress for the majority of the students. Struggling students are identified using data-based student progress monitoring and provided intensive instruction. The
use of scientifically validated curricula and teaching methods expected in an RTI model leads to data-based school improvement.
What are the benefits of RTI?
RTI holds the promise of ensuring that all children have access to high quality instruction and that struggling learners, including those with learning disabilities (LD), are identified, supported, and served early and effectively. Driven and documented by reliable data, the implementation of RTI in Texas schools can result in:
• more effective instruction;
• increased student achievement;
• more appropriate LD identification;
• increased professional collaboration; and
• overall school improvement.
What should a multi-tiered RtI model include?
To ensure that appropriate instruction directly addresses students’ academic and behavioral difficulties in the general education setting, a multi-tiered service delivery model is used. Included are layers of increasingly intense intervention responding to student-specific needs.
Tier 1: Teachers use high-quality core class instruction aligned with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) in which about 80% or more of the students are successful. This tier is the crucial foundation of the RTI instructional model.
Tier 2: Students are identified for individual or small group intervention in addition to core class instruction. This level includes scientific research-based programs, strategies, and procedures designed and employed to supplement, enhance, and support Tier 1 activities. District-established standard protocol matches appropriate intervention strategies to specific student needs. Tier 2 addresses the needs of approximately 10–15% of the students.
Tier 3: Students who have not responded adequately to Tiers 1 and 2 receive specific, custom-designed individual or small group instruction (designed using a problem-solving model) beyond the instruction in Tier 1. This level of intervention is aimed at those students who have identified difficulties academically or behaviorally. Tier 3 addresses the needs of approximately 5–10% of the students.
How are decisions made about effective instruction in an RTI model?
To determine the effectiveness of an intervention, student progress is monitored through formative assessments that are sensitive to small changes in student behavior and performance. The following three types of assessments are typical of RTI:
1. Universal screening of all students identifies those not making academic or behavioral progress at expected rates.
2. Diagnostics determine what students can and cannot do in academic and behavioral domains.
3. Progress monitoring determines whether academic or behavioral interventions are producing the desired effects.
Progress monitoring helps teachers choose efficient, targeted instructional techniques and establish goals which enable all students to advance appropriately toward attainment of state achievement standards. RtI decision-making processes are dependent upon reliable student performance data and data-collection systems.
Why is progress monitoring so important?
Benefits of Progress Monitoring:
• Accelerated learning due to appropriate instruction
• Informed instructional decisions
• Effective communication with families and other professionals about students’ progress
• High expectations for students by teachers
• Appropriate special education referrals
• Documentation of student progress for accountability purposes
Who is responsible for RTI?
Since RTI is a whole-school instructional framework intended to improve instruction and learning for all students, all faculty and staff members share responsibility for RTI.
The Principal is the instructional leader of the school and so must be the leader in developing and implementing an RTI model.
Teachers, of course, are the most important component of an RTI team and need to understand all aspects RTI. Since teachers provide the bulk of the instruction and have the most opportunity to observe student progress, their support of RTI is crucial to success. Teachers should be included in every stage of developing an RTI model. The activities that comprise RTI typically occur in the general education setting as schools use a variety of strategies to assist struggling students. General and special education staff coordinate and collaborate to develop a process for RTI implementation, and such collaboration may lead to a shift in roles played by teachers from both areas.
Paraprofessionals may implement small-group interventions, assess progress, and maintain crucial databases showing that progress.
Can an RTI model be used to address behavioral concerns?
Behavioral issues can negatively impact learning as learning difficulties can negatively impact behavior. As students’ academic success improves in school, their social and behavioral success tends to improve as well. Nevertheless, an RTI model specifically designed to address behavioral difficulties can
• improve the pace of that improvement;
• support academic growth; and
• help improve the climate of the school.
Both academic and behavioral interventions contain the same components:
• The needs of most students are met through high-quality, research-based universal instructional and behavioral practices.
• Students needing additional intervention are identified and served through Tier 2 interventions. Tier 2 interventions are chosen through a campus-designed standard protocol or problem-based model. Student progress is carefully monitored, and interventions are modified as necessary.
• Custom-designed Tier 3 interventions are implemented with the small percentage of students who are not successful with Tier 2 interventions.
• Fidelity of implementation is crucial to success at all three tiers.
As with academic models, the focus of the entire school using RTI to address behavioral concerns can shift from identifying negative behavior to teaching and promoting positive behavior.