- Students struggle in school for different reasons.
- RTI is an acceptable way of identifying students with learning disabilities.
- RTI isn’t a specific program or type of teaching.
- RTI works on a tier system with three levels of intervention.
Students struggle in school for different reasons. Response to Intervention (RTI) can help by combining high quality, culturally responsive instructions with assessments and interventions that are proven to work by evidence from research.
RTI was originally recognized in the 1970s as a system for helping students with potential learning problems early, instead of waiting until they fail. With the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 2004, RTI was noted as an acceptable way to identify students with learning disabilities. RTI can help students who haven’t yet been identified as eligible for special education or those who struggle but don’t qualify for special education services.
At any time during the RTI process, parents or teachers can request an evaluation for special education services. The evaluation can determine whether a student qualifies for an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or accommodations through a Section 504 Plan. RTI does not replace a school’s responsibility to evaluate students who might qualify for special education services. See PAVE’s article on Child Find, a mandate of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
RTI’s goal is for schools to intervene before a student falls too far behind. RTI is not a specific program or type of teaching, but rather a proactive way to check in with a student to see how things are going. Data help school staff decide which types of targeted teaching would work best for the student. If a student’s progress is slow or stagnant, then teachers adjust based on the student’s needs.
RTI has three levels, or tiers, for intervention:
- In the general education classroom
- In a special education classroom, resource room, or small group
- For an individual student
RTI works best when parents are involved
Parents can monitor their child’s progress and participate in the process. Parents can talk to the school about which instructions or reinforcements are working and boost the benefit by being consistent with the same strategies at home.
As military families move from one location to another, they may notice that each school uses different techniques to implement RTI programs. Schools will format their programs to best fit the needs of their students by using a variety of tools to improve learning for all students. Keeping up with what’s happening at school might be challenging but can help the student find success.
RTI is part of a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) framework. MTSS provides a method for intervention in academic and non-academic areas, including Social Emotional Learning or behavior support. MTSS is used to support adult students and professionals as well. In this video, a researcher from the American Institutes for Research, Rebecca Zumeta Edmonds, Ph.D., discusses differences between MTSS and RTI.
PAVE has an article that describes MTSS and how it can provide a larger framework for Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS), when a child’s behavior becomes a barrier to learning.
For more information on RTI, MTSS, and PBIS: