Chapter 1: Response to Intervention: A program to Assist Struggling Learners

RTI – A Definition

Response to intervention (RTI) is referenced in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) reauthorization of 2004 as well as in the No Child Left Behind (NCLB). With the 2004 reauthorization of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), states and school districts were given more options for how to evaluate public school students for specific learning disabilities (SLD). One new approach to evaluation that has gained increasing interest is “response to intervention,” or RTI. RTI is a process adopted by the State of Georgia to help struggling learners achieve academic goals that will further them in their learning and place them on their correct grade level of academics.

In the past, many school systems were caught in the “wait to fail” method of instruction and evaluation. In this process, a child who was struggling academically was either pulled out for alternative instruction or was given additional practice work to complete at home. The child was then academically placed in the next grade level with hopes that they would “pick up” soon or that their next teacher would have better luck in getting them onto grade level. When a child is struggling with learning, a common goal among well-intentioned staff and parents’ is to "get the kid help" so he can achieve on a par with his peers. For the past 25-plus years, “getting the kid help” has meant a referral and assessment for special education services. When the student was two to three grade levels behind their peers, the teacher and/or parent would ask for the child to be evaluated for Special Education assistance. When that occurred, the child was “tested” for a learning disability and was sometimes placed in Special Education. The presumed advantage of this approach was that the student would receive the help that they needed through special education’s additional resources (e.g., small group instruction and teachers with specific training).

The RTI Model changes all that. In RTI, all learners are assessed and evaluated at the beginning of the academic school year. Those falling in the lower 10th percentile are immediately placed into RTI where they are given 1-2 hours of additional instruction each week using research based interventions. The learners’ progress is monitored frequently, 1-3 times a month, and interventions are increased or changed according to the learners’ progress. The whole goal of RTI is to find struggling learners early and get them up to grade level as soon as possible. This will help prevent them from falling two to three years behind their peers. Also, RTI is a way of distinguishing between a learning problem or a teaching problem. We know that all teachers try to teach the curriculum as best they can but in some cases, the method of instruction conflicts with the child’s learning style. RTI builds a bridge for teacher and learner to connect in different ways and overcome the learning gap. They do this by implementing different interventions and delivery styles so that the learner can grasp the concepts being taught and academically succeed. When RTI is implemented with rigor, teachers and parents alike can assume that the child is receiving high-quality instruction and that any persisting achievement or performance problem that arises will be addressed with specific interventions.

The Georgia RTI is based on a four tiered pyramid of intervention which is as follows:

Tier 1: 6-8 weeks with 1-2 evaluations per week.

1.5 hours a week for targeted students (25th %tile or less)

All students are given a universal screening or benchmark test. Differentiation and flexible grouping of 5-8 children per group is provided for struggling students and they are given additional instruction time using computer research based programs that target the skills in which the children are deficient.

Tier 2: 9-12 weeks with 1-2 evaluations per week

2 hours a week for targeted students (25th %tile or less)

Students are placed in smaller groups of 3-5 children and are given more intense instruction using computer research based programs that target the skills in which the children are deficient.

Tier 3: Referral to SST

9-12 weeks with 1-2 evaluations per week

5 hours a week for specifically targeted learners

Parents are contacted and students are placed in even smaller groups of 1-3 or are given intense one-on-one instruction using “hands on” and research based programs that target the skills in which the children are deficient. A mini-lesson format is used in groups of 1-3 as well as other forms of creative instruction.

Tier 4: Referral to the Special Education Screening Process

SGE Tiers of Intervention

Referred Students

Spec. Ed. / Gifted Testing and/or Placement

Targeted Students

Academic / Behavior Intervention

Student Support Team Meetings (cont.)

Wrap Around Services

Continue SST

RTI Pullout in groups of 1-3

Referral to SST

Begin SPED screening

Struggling Students

Individual Observation of Student Work

Academic Screening by SST Coordinator

Behavior Intervention Team / Student Support Team Meetings

RTI Pullout in groups of 3-5

Parent / Teacher Conference

Extra study time

Progress Monitoring

Charting, parental contact, hearing / vision screening

Individualized Homework

Wrap Around Services

Tier 1

All Students

RTI Pullouts in groups of 5-8

Family Connections

Parent University Involvement

Flexible Grouping

CRCT / Benchmark Data Driven Instruction

Positive Behavior Interventions

Classroom Modifications / Interventions

Learning Focus Strategies (differentiation, remediation, acceleration, extending and refining.)

All students Receive Benchmark Testing for RTI Identification three times / year (Aug., Jan., May)