Response to Intervention

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´╗┐Response to Intervention is a method of academic intervention used in the United States which is designed to provide early and effective assistance to children who are having difficulty learning. Response to Intervention integrates assessment and intervention within a multi-leveled system to maximize student's achievement. This method is also a tremendous factor in diagnosing learning disabilities. With RTI, schools identify students who are at risk for poor learning outcomes, monitor student's progress, provide evidence-based interventions and adjust the intensity of those interventions depending on the student's responsiveness to the assessments. RTI seeks to prevent academic failure through early intervention, frequent progress measurements, and intensive research-based instructional interventions for children who continue having difficulty in the classroom setting. Teachers will look at the student's progress over time and if the child does not show a response to the intervention, it is quite possible that this student may have a biologically-based learning disability.


RTI tries to meet the following goals:
1. The educational system can effectively teach all children
2. Early intervention is critical to preventing problems from getting out of control
3. The implementation of a multi-tiered service delivery model is necessary
4. A problem solving model should be used to make decisions between tiers
5. Research based interventions should be implemented to inform instruction
6. Data should drive decision making

RTI provides a systematic process to students who are having challenges meeting academic benchmarks in the school system. RTI truly relies on data-based decision making which is essential for the other three components. These three components are screening, progress monitoring, and multi-leveled instruction. All of these components must work perfectly together in order to help the student reach their full potential. Universal screening is the first step in identifying the students who are at risk for learning difficulties. This stage is a way to target students who struggle to learn basic general education skills. Universal screening is typically conducted three times during the school year. These assessments consist of brief but important concepts on targeted skills and are highly predictive of future outcomes for each child. The second component, progress monitoring, is a set of assessment procedures for determining the extent to which students are benefiting from classroom instruction and for monitoring the effectiveness of the curriculum. Next, multi-leveled instruction is an assessment for all students to see which category they fall in based on their peers. Finally, data-based decision making is the process of putting all of the three steps together to fully classify if a student is in need for RTI services or not.


Response to Intervention is staged in three tiers: primary, secondary, and tertiary levels of support for students. Keep in mind that with each tier there may be more than one intervention. Each student should be classified under one of the three levels of progression, regardless of the number of interventions that a school or district uses.

The primary tier focuses specifically at the school core curriculum level. This means that all students should be able to meet the target levels of core curriculum during this stage. On average, approximately 80-85% of the student body should be able to meet grade level norms without additional teaching. In this tier, there will be differentiated instruction given by the general education teacher that will use evidence-based core curriculum for all students. Subsequently, 15-20% of students that do not meet this standard are then moved to the second tier.

The secondary tier provides supplementary instruction services that target the specific problems that the student is having. This tier provides a more systematic instruction by building off of the differentiated instruction from tier one. This type of intervention is usually given to small groups with the general education teacher and another provider for the group who has training with the intervention. After receiving helpful services from their tier, only 3-6% of these students will continue to the third tier.

The tertiary level or tier three is the most intensive of all of the stages and with the aid of the other tiers will help put the child back on track. The students who continue to have difficulties and continue to show resistance to any sort of intervention will move to the third tier. The intensity of the tertiary level is then determined by the severity of the student's problem. This stage includes evidence-based instruction given to individual children or in small groups of two or three students. This type of intervention is administered by a special education teacher or a provider who specializes in intervention.


One criticism of Response to Intervention is that there is limiting access to special education services. Not every student can be tested for special education programs due to lack in funding. Regular students should not be left behind, but at the same time, the students that need extra support should be put forth for further interventions. Also, this type of intervention puts an enormous amount of pressure onto the teachers to make sure that they have done everything possible in the classroom before the child can be assessed. The assessment and classification of a single student can be unreasonably delayed with each new year the student receives a new teacher. Each teacher must go through a new RTI process and look back on previous teachers in order to make a specific assessment for the individual. Another conflict arises with the involvement of other students who are not struggling. Some parents and other teachers feel that students who are doing well in school are often forgotten about because they are "doing well" in their academics. An effective RTI framework consists of all students receiving high-quality instruction that is aligned to a state's academic standards and benchmarks. This allows teachers and parents to be confident that a student's need for more intensive intervention is not due to ineffective classroom instruction. In a well-designed RTI system, the curriculum should be effective and sufficient for approximately 80% of the student population.


Myers, Diane M., Brandi Simonsen, and George Sugai. Education & Treatment of Children . Vol. 34. New York: MasterFile Premier, 2011. 35-59. Web. 28 Mar. 2011.

Jackson, Sarah, Kristie Pretti-Frontczak, Sanna Harjusola-Webb, Jennifer Grisham-Brown, and Jeanne Romani. Language, Speech & Hearing Services in School . Ohio: Cinahl, 2009. 424-34. Web. 28 Mar. 2011. Mask, Paige R., Melanie J. McGill, and Stephen F. Austin.

Response to Intervention (RTI): A Work in Progress. 2nd ed. Vol. 34. Texas: National Social Science Journal, 2010. 93-104. Web. 28 Mar. 2011.