By Teachers, For Teachers
Educators might be in a better position to help learners who are experiencing difficulty if an assessment method could match the student with appropriate instruction. It is the intent of Response to Intervention (RtI) to combine important features of assessment with instruction, as well as address many of the limitations currently associated with aptitude-achievement discrepancy models of Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) identification.
Response to Intervention (RtI) is a multi-tiered identification of and support for students with learning and/or behavioral issues. The process starts with a universal screening of all general education students. After high-quality instruction, interventions at increasing levels of intensity are provided to struggling students to accelerate their learning. Progress of the learning rate and level of performance for individual students is closely monitored and assessed. RtI is designed to be used when making decisions regarding both general and special education. It creates an integrated system of instruction and intervention guided by a student's outcome data.
Response to Intervention is generally defined as a three-tier model of support from a school that uses research-based academic and/or behavioral interventions to maximize student learning and achievement.
Tier 1: High-Quality Classroom Instruction, Screening, and Group Interventions.
Tier 2: Targeted Interventions
Tier 3: Intense Interventions and Comprehensive Evaluations
The following are core features and essential elements of a strong Response to Intervention that must be implemented with perseverance and rigor.
1. High quality classroom instruction. Students in the RtI process receive high quality instruction in their general educational setting. Before students are identified for specific assistance, there must be assurance that the typical classroom instruction is of high quality. This quality can be assessed by comparing a student's learning rate and achievements in different classrooms at the same grade level.
2. Research-based instruction. The classroom practices and curriculum in a general education setting vary in their effectiveness. Therefore, ensuring that the practices and curriculum have demonstrated validity is important. If instruction is not research-based, one cannot be confident that limited gains of students are independent of classroom experiences.
3. Classroom performance. General education instructors and staff assume an active role in the assessment of students in the general education curriculum. Emphasized here is the important role of the classroom staff to design and complete student assessments rather than rely on externally developed tests (e.g., state or nationally developed tests). Districts and schools have to design assessments and monitor performance.
4. Universal screening. School staffs conduct universal screening of academics and behavior. This feature focuses on specific criteria for judging the learning and achievement of all students, not only in academics but also in related behaviors (e.g., class attendance, tardiness, truancy, suspensions, and disciplinary actions). Such criteria are applied when determining which students need closer monitoring or an intervention.
5. Continuous progress monitoring. In Response to Intervention models, one expects the classroom progress of students to be monitored continuously. In this way, staff can readily identify learners who are not meeting the benchmarks or other expected standards. Various curriculum-based assessment models are useful in this role.
6. Research-based interventions. When screening and/or progress monitoring results indicate a deficit for a student, an appropriate instructional intervention is implemented, perhaps an individually-designed instructional package or the standardized intervention protocol. The standardized intervention protocols are interventions that researchers have validated through a series of studies. School staff is expected to implement specific, research-based interventions to address a student's difficulties. These interventions might include a "double-dose" of classroom instruction or a different instructional method. These research-based interventions are 8 to 12 weeks in length and are designed to increase the intensity of the learner's instructional experience.
7. Progress monitoring during interventions. School staff members use progress monitoring data to determine the effectiveness of interventions and to make modifications as needed. Carefully defined data are collected, perhaps daily, to provide a cumulative record of a learner's response to the intervention.
8. Fidelity measures. While the interventions themselves are designed, implemented, and assessed for learner effectiveness, fidelity measures the focus on teachers providing the instruction. The fidelity measure, usually an observational checklist of critical teaching behaviors, is completed by a staff member other than the teacher being observed and who indicates whether or not the intervention was implemented as intended and with consistency.
For more information about utilizing curriculum development and management software in Response to Intervention, visit Collaborative Learning, Inc.
Tool Kit on Teaching and Assessing Students with Disabilities
U.S. Office of Special Education Programs
Responsiveness to Intervention in the SLD Determination Process
National Research Center on Learning Disabilities (July 2005)
RtI Action Network