What is Response to Intervention?
Response to Intervention (RtI or RTI) is an instructional approach that provides all students with the instruction they need for learning success. The goal of RtI is to intervene early – when students begin to struggle with learning – to prevent them from falling behind and developing learning difficulties.
RtI is a framework for providing high-quality instruction built on these components:
- All students receive high-quality core content area instruction.
- All students are screened to identify those who are making adequate grade-level progress and those who are falling behind and at risk for learning difficulties.
- At-risk students are provided with immediate, research-based intervention instruction.
- At-risk students’ progress is monitored frequently to ensure the intervention is meeting their needs.
- Professional development is provided to educators to enhance the instruction and intervention they provide.
High-quality instruction in the general education setting is direct, systematic, explicit instruction based on practices supported by scientific research. In an RtI framework, general education teachers provide all students with effective instruction that addresses knowledge and skills identified from research as critical to content area learning. Teachers analyze their core programs to identify key content area components that are inadequately addressed and need to be supplemented with further instruction. back to top
All students are screened to identify those who are making adequate grade-level progress and those who are falling behind and at risk for learning difficulties.
All students in general education and special programs are periodically screened or assessed in the content area to make sure they are progressing through the curriculum or meeting grade-level benchmarks. These “benchmark measures” are usually provided at the beginning, middle, and end of the school year. The purpose of these assessments is to identify those students who are falling behind and who are at risk for learning difficulties. These measures also provide information that helps teachers make instructional decisions to benefit all students: forming small groups for instruction, scheduling instructional time for small groups, and identifying areas in which additional practice or instruction is needed. back to top
In schools that are implementing RtI, at-risk students receive research-based intervention instruction in addition to the core content area instruction. Intervention is provided in small groups to facilitate student learning. These students may all receive intervention in the same program (standard protocol), or they may receive individualized intervention that is designed to target their identified needs. In these schools, educators have “entry criteria” that identify students as needing intervention, as well as “exit criteria” that indicate students no longer need the additional intervention or tutoring support.
Schools that are implementing RtI usually provide different levels of intervention to match students’ needs. Students who are lagging behind their peers may benefit from an intervention program provided in groups of 3-5, or students who are much farther behind may need more intense intervention (1-3 students). back to top
At-risk students’ progress is monitored frequently to ensure the intervention is meeting their needs.
In RtI, educators frequently administer measures to monitor the progress of at-risk students as often as weekly or biweekly. Evaluating this data is very important because when at-risk students make inadequate progress to close the performance gaps in their knowledge and skills, they risk falling farther behind over time.
Educators use the students’ progress monitoring data to make instructional decisions. They examine the data from these measures to determine whether the students’ rate of progress over time shows they are responding to intervention. If students have not met the intervention exit criteria but are on course to close their performance gaps, they may continue in the intervention program. If they are responding too slowly to the intervention and their performance gap is not closing, they may benefit from a different, more intense intervention. “Intensive” intervention typically occurs in an even smaller group (1-3 students), a grouping format that offers students more opportunities to receive instruction from the educator and to practice what they have learned.
The progress monitoring data also helps educators and parents make decisions related to referring a student for evaluation for special services. back to top
Professional development is provided to educators to enhance the instruction and intervention they provide.
Enhancing the knowledge and skills of educators is essential to providing all students with opportunities to be successful learners. Every aspect of RtI implementation requires up-to-date knowledge of research-based strategies for effective instruction; hence ongoing professional development is critical to its success.
To plan professional development, schools implementing RtI should evaluate student data to systematically target educators’ needs such as using research-based strategies in content area instruction, knowing how to administer benchmark measures, using student data to inform instruction, knowing how to identify and implement effective interventions to meet student needs, and how to use student data to reflect on and improve the overall instruction and intervention provided to students.
Successful RtI implementation requires building capacity within a school to constantly improve the instruction all students receive, with a goal of preventing learning difficulties. RtI is a change effort that takes time – at least 2-3 years – before results begin to become apparent: more students performing on grade level, fewer students needing intervention, and fewer students being referred for special services evaluations. It requires time for instructional leaders and educators to learn new practices, incorporate them into their instruction, and see students improve. Ongoing professional development is key to building capacity needed to sustain effective RtI implementation over time. back to top