Response to intervention

Response to intervention

In education, Response To Intervention (commonly abbreviated RTI or RtI) is a method of academic intervention used in the United States designed to provide early, effective assistance to children who are having difficulty learning. Response to intervention was also designed to function as a data-based process of diagnosing learning disabilities. This method can be used at the group and individual level. The RTI method has been developed by researchers as an alternative to identifying learning disabilities with the ability-achievement discrepancy model, which requires children to exhibit a severe discrepancy between their IQ and academic achievement as measured by standardized tests. Further, the RTI process brings more clarity to the Specific Learning Disability (SLD) category of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA 2004), which has been referred to as a residual category for children with moderate learning problems. [Haager, Diane et al. Evidence-Based Reading Practices for Response to Intervention, Brooks Publishing, 2007. ]

RTI seeks to prevent academic failure through early intervention, frequent progress measurement, and increasingly intensive research-based instructional interventions for children who continue to have difficulty. Students who do not show a response to effective interventions are likely (or, more likely than students who respond) to have biologically-based learning disabilities and to be in need of special education. [Cortiella, Candace, Response-to-Intervention — An Emerging Method for LD Identification, Schwab Learning, Retrieved August 2, 2007.]

For children with learning disabilities, RTI may assist schools in avoiding the so-called "wait-to-fail" method by providing intervention as soon as children exhibit difficulty.


"Response to Intervention" (RTI) is a philosophy that encompasses alternative assessment which utilizes quality interventions matched to student needs, coupled with formative evaluation to obtain data over time to make critical educational decisions [National Association of State Directors of Special Education. (2005). Response to intervention: Policy considerations and implementation. Alexandria, VA: NASDSE, Inc.]

RTI follows the following core assumptions [National Association of State Directors of Special Education. (2005). Response to intervention: Policy considerations and implementation. Alexandria, VA: NASDSE, Inc.] :
#that the educational system can effectively teach all children
#that early intervention is critical to preventing problems from getting out of control
#that the implementation of a multi-tiered service delivery model is necessary
#that a problem solving model should be used to make decisions between tiers
#that research based interventions should be implemented to the extent possible
#that progress monitoring must be implemented to inform instruction
#that data should drive decision making.

In this regard, RTI is not simply a set of interventions but a systematic model within general education and special education areas. In addition, RTI should be viewed as a systematic process for providing preventive, supplementary instructional services to students who are having challenges meeting benchmark levels. RTI is superior to the mathematical discrepancy approach in that it takes the focus away from within-child deficits to issues relative to the context of instruction or the extent to which a student has had the opportunity to learn. The assumption that a student cannot learn is typically attributed to some neurological or processing disorder residing within the child. This assumption fails to account for the possibility that interacting variables such as the lack of good instruction, the lack of an opportunity to learn, cultural variables, and/or language proficiency levels in the second language, for example, might be reasons for the lack of academic progress. The literature is clear that the traditional psychometric discrepancy model does more harm to students and actually has created a special education system that serves a disproportionate number of minority students.

RTI is conceptualized as a multi-tiered service delivery model including primary, secondary, and tertiary levels of support. The primary, or first tier is focused specifically at the school core curriculum level, meaning that the target level of intervention is the core curriculum. In this tier approximately 80% to 85% of the general student body should be able to meet grade level norms without additional assistance. The 15% to 20% of students who consistently show a discrepancy between their current level of performance and that of the expected level of performance are then given Tier 2 or secondary, supplementary instruction services (not to be confused with special education) targeting the problems the student is having. Of the students who are provided with intervention services at Tier 2, approximately 3 to 6% of them will continue to have difficulties and continue to show resistance to intervention. At this point in time, these students will then receive Tier 3 intervention services (not to be confused with special education at this point either). [National Association of State Directors of Special Education. (2005). Response to intervention: Policy considerations and implementation. Alexandria, VA: NASDSE, Inc.] Hence, the intensity of intervention increases as the severity of the problem increases. [Gresham, F.M. (2004). Current status and future directions of school-based behavioral interventions. School Psychology Review, 33, 326-343.]

RTI has three basic components: School-wide screening, Progress monitoring and Tiered service delivery, and Fidelity of implementation

chool-wide screening

For a screening measure to be useful, it should satisfy three criteria: a. It needs to identify students who require further assessment b. It needs to be practical c. It needs to generate positive outcomes (accurately identifies students without consuming resources that could be put to better use)A screening procedure must be brief as well as simple enough to be implemented reliably by teachers.Screening measures can use either a criterion referenced or normative comparison standard of performance. In the former, a specific criterion level of skills is specified as indicating an acceptable level of proficiency or mastery. In the normative comparison, the screening results are compared to an appropriate peer group (e.g., other students in first grade). Criterion measures are preferred because they give more accurate information about performance on relevant skills.Screening is not a one-time process but an iterative system during the school year and across grade levels. During the course of primary instruction (Tier 1), the school uses school-wide screening (consistency) in essential academic areas to identify each student’s level of proficiency (usually three times per year). [ Jenkins, J.R. (2003, December). Candidate measures for screening at-risk students. Paper presented at the NRCLD Responsiveness-to-Intervention Symposium, Kansas City, MO. Retrieved April 3, 2006, from¬sium2003/jenkins/index.html. ] The National Research Center on Learning Disabilities recommends that schools use school-wide screening in combination with at least five weeks of weekly progress monitoring in response to general education to identify students who require preventative intervention. Their rationale is that one-time universal screening at the beginning of the year can over-identify students who require preventative intervention.

Progress monitoring and Tiered service delivery

Progress monitoring is a set of assessment procedures for determining the extent to which students are benefiting from classroom instruction and for monitoring effectiveness of curriculum. Progress monitoring is the scientifically based practice of assessing students’ academic performance on a regular basis for three purposes:
*To determine whether children are profiting appropriately from the instructional program, including the curriculum
*To build more effective programs for the children who do not benefit
*To estimate rates of student improvement.

In Tier 1, progress monitoring procedures serve several functions. First, progress monitoring displays individual student growth over time, to determine whether the student is progressing as expected. The steps in Tier 1 are: data is collected, students are identified using benchmark scores, and measurable goals are set for next data collection point for the class and students displaying difficulties. Then, the team problem-solves to determine scientifically research-based interventions for at-risk students that will work in whole-class instructions. Observations are conducted to ensure the fidelity of the classroom instruction. The teacher implements the interventions and the team reviews progress of students.

In Tier 2, the main purpose of progress monitoring and beyond interventions is to determine whether the intervention is successful in helping the student learn at an appropriate rate. Decision rules need to be created to determine when a student might no longer require Tier 2 and beyond services and can be returned to the general classroom (Tier 1), when the intervention needs to be changed, or when a student might be identified for special education. The steps in Tier 2 are: see if the child has not met benchmarks in Tier 1, has significantly lower performance levels, exhibit significant deviation from their grade-level peers in academic or behavioral issues, and are learning at a much slower rate and falling farther behind.

Tier 2 and beyond consists of general education instruction plus specialized intervention that has the following features: Size of instructional group. Tier 2 and beyond instruction is provided in small groups (two to four students). Cut scores identified on screening measures and continued growth as demonstrated by routine progress monitoring are indicators of content mastery. Although recommendations vary, weekly to three times per week monitoring of progress is typical. Tier 2 and beyond interventions last for nine to 12 weeks and can be repeated as needed. Tier 2 and beyond provides for three to four intervention sessions per week, each lasting 30 to 60 minutes. Instruction is conducted by trained and supervised personnel.

Tier 3 demands more intense interventions. The steps are: see if the child is having marked difficulties and have not responded to Tier 2 interventions, requires more frequent, intense interventions and more frequent progress monitoring.

In Tier 3, special education instruction is provided to individual students or small groups. Special education programs, strategies, and procedures are designed and employed to supplement, enhance, and support Tier 1 and Tier 2 and beyond instruction by remediation of the relevant area and development of compensatory strategies. Mastery is relative to the student’s functioning and determined by [individualized education program] (IEP) goal setting and through results of comprehensive evaluation. Continuous progress monitoring informs the teaching process. Special education instruction likely will be considerably longer than the 10 to 12 weeks of supplemental instruction delivered in Tier 2 and beyond. The frequency of special education instruction depends upon student need. Special education teachers deliver the instruction. Exit criteria are specified and monitored so that placement is flexible.

* There are interventions available that provide measurable outcomes and could be useful, in some capacity, at all levels. For example, [ The Challenge Software Program] is an interactive online program designed to help children struggling withSelf-regulation and Social Skills. The program is based on Fundamental Cognitive-Behavioral principles and provides measurable outcomes. [ Test Prep Systems] offers progress monitoring tools for Florida, Illinois, and North Carolina students. They are also working on releasing tools for more states.

Fidelity of implementation

In an RTI model, fidelity is important at both the school level (e.g., implementation of the process) and the teacher level (e.g., implementation of instruction). Although both common sense and research support the concept of fidelity of implementation to ensure an intervention’s successful outcome, the practical challenges associated with achieving high levels of fidelity are well documented.Factors that reduce fidelity of implementation [ Johnson, E., Mellard, D.F., Fuchs, D., & McKnight, M.A. (2006). Responsiveness to intervention (RTI): How to do it. Lawrence, KS: National Research Center on Learning Disabilities. ] :
*Complexity. The more complex the intervention, the lower the fidelity because of the level of difficulty. (This factor includes time needed for instruction in the intervention).
*Materials and resources required. If new or substantial resources are required, they need to be readily accessible.
*Perceived and actual effectiveness (credibility). Even with a solid research base, if teachers believe the approach will not be effective, or if it is inconsistent with their teaching style, they will not implement it well.
*Interventionists. The number, expertise, and motivation of individuals who deliver the intervention are factors in the level of fidelity of implementation.

Classification of RTI

In the educational literature, RTI is either referred to as a "Standard Protocol Approach" or as a "Problem Solving Model." [Fuchs, D., Mock, D., Morgan, P. L., & Young, C. L. (2003). Responsiveness-to-Intervention: Definitions, evidence, and implications for the learning disabilities construct. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 18, 157-171.] Both models incorporate problem solving to identify the academic problem the student is having. The main difference among these approaches is that the former uses a systematic, universal screening procedure during Tier 1 to determine which students are having difficulties meeting age or grade level benchmarks for a specific skill. Typically, Curriculum Based Measurement (CBM), or other methods are used to flag the students who are not meeting expected levels of performance. In the problem solving model approach, the teacher typically refers the student to the student success team or multidisciplinary team to ascertain the challenges a student is having within the classroom. Using information collected from the classroom teacher, observations, etc, the team determines what additional supports the student might need to address the learning gap.

"Response To Intervention" (RTI) is a method, or process, of educational intervention which includes, but is not limited to: reading tutoring, peer tutoring, phonological awareness, and phonics interventions. Key to the RTI method is the application of scientifically-based interventions that have been demonstrated to work in randomized controlled trials. The RTI method assumes accountability to the consumers of an educational program by ensuring the application of programs that work rather than programs that simply look, sound, or feel good. In terms of its methods, after the intervention, collecting of data on change in student performance is undertaken. Curriculum Based Measurement [Deno, S. L. (1985). Curriculum-based measurement: The emerging alternative. Exceptional Children, 52, 219-232.] (CBM) is often used to collect data on interventions and their effectiveness. CBM has over 30 years of scientific support ( Response to intervention is based on discovering what works best for an individual student, not what might be the 'best' intervention for everyone. Additional methods are tried until students 'respond' to the intervention and improve their skills. Students that do not respond, or respond at significantly low rates, are deemed to have biologically-based learning disabilities, not simply learning difficulties.

RTI provides an alternative or additional means of gathering information to be used when classifying students for special education. When a student is identified as having difficulties in school, a team provides interventions of increasing intensity to help the child catch up with the rest of his or her peers. After interventions have been tried and proven ineffective, the child may then be referred for additional, special education services (IDEA). RTI is a way to ensure each student is afforded the opportunity to learn.

When interventions work, fewer children, particularly minority children, are referred for special education. The RTI model acts as a safeguard, insuring that a child is not given a label of a disability inappropriately. RTI also helps school districts by eliminating unnecessary referrals, which drain time and resources (Farstrup, 2007).

Response to RTI

As RTI has recently entered U.S. elementary schools, it has brought about tension between regular education teachers and special education teachers.



*D Fuchs, LS Fuchs (2006). [ Introduction to Response to Intervention: What, Why, and How Valid Is It?] . Reading Research Quarterly,
* JK Klingner, PA Edward (2006). [ Cultural Considerations With Response to Intervention Models] . Reading Research Quarterly, .
* FM Gresham, et al. (2004). [ Comprehensive evaluation of learning disabilities: A response to intervention perspective] . The School Psychologist (
* PA Edwards (2006). [ Cultural considerations with Response to Intervention models] . Reading Research Quarterly. (
* AM VanDerHeyden, SR Jimerson (2006). [ Using Response-to-Intervention to Enhance Outcomes for Children] . California School Psychologist. (
* DW Barnett, EJ Daly III, KM Jones, FE Lentz Jr (2004). [ Response to Intervention. Journal of Special Education] . (
* AE Farstrup (2007).
*RTI: A vital concern for reading professionals."Reading Today, 25.3, 17.


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