Response to Intervention (RTI)
Response to Intervention (RtI)
RtI is a systematic and data-based method for identifying, defining, and resolving students' academic and/or behavioral difficulties. RtI is a general education initiative that utilizes a problem-solving approach to assessment and intervention in which educators use formative assessments (objective and stable screenings to measure growth over time) to monitor students' progress. This assessment data provides educators with valuable feedback to guide instructional and intervention planning.
The primary purpose of RtI is to meet the needs of all students more efficiently/effectively. Through the development of an integrated system of service delivery educators are able to provide extra support services to students who are struggling in school, instead of having to wait until they qualify for extra support services.
There are three big ideas about RtI:
- Data-based decision making - even though the educational team at MCS possess a wealth of knowledge and experience, it is important for all schools to encorporate a system of data-based decision making. Through the use of objective data that is sensitive to growth over time, educational teams are better able to identify students who are not responding to the core instructional program (the instruction that all students receive). Furthermore, data can be employed to monitor how well students respond to additional interventions. Through on-going review of this data, educators are better able to practice on-going reflection on their effectiveness which facilitates their ability to make decisions about ways to better meet the needs of our students.
- Improve the quality of instruction - the Monroe community is very fortunate to have an experienced and talented educational team. As noted above, a vital component of RtI is to provide more efficient and effective services through the development of an integrated system of service delivery. Educators at the Monroe school regularly communicate with each other to coordinate services for our students. Furthermore, through this collaboration educators are able to further develop their knowledge and skills to better meet the needs of our students. Finally, RtI emphasizes the use of research based, and scientifically proven instructional methods. Consequently, Monroe is actively evaluating and modifying its instructional programming. For instance, Monroe has recently adopted new reading programs, is implementing the principles and practices of Expeditionary Learning Schools; as well as adhering to the principles and practices set forth by the Coalition of Essential Schools (CES).
- Focus on alterable variables - Even though it is important to consider the reasons why a student may be struggling, RtI shifts the focus to examining what educators can do to better support students. Alterable variables refer to variables that can be changed in order to enhance instructional effectiveness. These variables include opportunities to learn, program implementation, group size for Tier II or Tier III interventions, and coordination of instruction.
Key Features of RtI
Prevention Based Model
There are three types of prevention:
- Primary Prevention - intervene before any problems exist
- Secondary Prevention - intervene at the first signs of problems
- Tertiary Prevention - intervene to reduce the effects of existing problems
Through the use of ongoing screening and progress monitoring RtI enables educators to practice primary and secondary prevention. For instance, the use of the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) has been proven to be effective at identifying students who are most at-risk for developing reading problems, as early as the fall of kindergarten - before signs of problems are apparent in the classroom. All too often though, educators may not be aware that a problem may arise until there are signs in the classroom. At that point an RtI approach allows educators to intervene and monitor progress.
In contrast, previous methods to intervention involved what some educators refer to as a "wait to fail" approach. Through this approach schools would have to wait until a student was significantly below average in order to provide extra support services. In effect, educators would have to wait until the gap between where a student was and where he/she was supposed to be was big enough. It was very rare for these students to qualify for extra support services prior to the third or fourth grades. This approach was very reactive and ineffective. Research shows that this approach was ineffective and contributed to an over identification of students as having learning disabilities.
With the passage of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) the demands and expectations for our students and educators are continuously increasing. In order to meet these demands it is imperative for educators to be even more effective then they already are. Each educator needs to continuously engage in collaboration with other educators, professional development activities, and related practices in order to be the most effective educators they can be. As part of this movement, educators must review their instructional approaches to ensure that they are not just effective, but optimally effective. Especially when considering the economic condition of our society, it is paramount for educators to be more effective with less.
RtI calls for the screening of all students three times per year using formative assessments (objective & brief screenings that are sensitive to measuring growth over time). Through these screenings, as well as discussions with classroom teachers, some students are identified as needed additional monitoring throughout the year. These students are progress monitored every 2-3 weeks using formative assessments.
Systematic Review of Data to Inform Instruction
Data is a wonderful tool for educators to collect and maintain; however, it is imperative for educators to systematically review this data.
As part of its integrated approach to service delivery, RtI is a multi-tiered model in which students get more individualized support based on their response to instruction (education itself is considered an intervention). Data is essential to this model as it facilitates educators' abilities to make decisions about each students' need for services. Most RtI models are comprised of three tiers.
RtI and Special Education
- RtI offers an excellent opportunity to better align the practices of IDEA (special education regulations) with the requirements and practices mandated through the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation.
- RtI enables educators to better differentiate between students who have learning problems and those that have learning disabilities.
- Students with learning problems will respond to intervention while those who have true learning disabilities will show minimal response to intervention