Response to Intervention (RtI): A Framework for Reaching Diverse Learners in Childhood

Response to InterventionAmerican schools have retooled their approach to learning to prepare today’s children for jobs in the 21st century.

Just as the expectation of working in the same job at the same company for one’s entire career has faded, gone also are the days of one-size-fits-all education. Educators have embraced differentiation in their instruction and schools today strive to provide a wide variety of opportunities for students to demonstrate their mastery of content.

At the same time, special education laws are changing to better meet the needs of the diverse learners entering our classrooms each day. In Wisconsin, the Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) law will change December 1, 2013, to include analyzing data collected through regular education interventions with students that are not progressing sufficiently.

Childhood assessment with learning intervention

Students will no longer be deemed disabled using the discrepancy model, rather, students that are not progressing at grade level will be monitored intensively and offered learning interventions through the regular education programs.

If students are unsuccessful despite intensive intervention, an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) team may be assembled to make a determination as to whether a child meets the criteria to receive special education services under the SLD law.

As districts work towards meeting the deadlines laid out by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers, most districts are implementing the Response to Intervention (RtI) program as a means of coming into compliance and addressing the needs of all learners.  

The 3 Tiers of RtI - Response to Intervention

RtI provides a framework and guidelines for the system’s progress monitoring and intensive interventions designed to mitigate deficits and aid students in attaining sufficient progress. It is comprised of three “Tiers” of instruction.  

Tier 1 is high quality classroom instruction, with differentiation by the teacher to meet each student at his/her own level of understanding.

When students are not showing adequate progress on MAP testing (measures of adequate progress, sometimes also called universal screening) they are scheduled for Tier 2 instruction, an intervention delivered by a regular education instructor in a small group setting with frequent checks for progress.

If Tier 2 interventions do not result in sufficient progress, the students is scheduled for Tier 3 instruction.  This Tier involves very small (generally 4 or less students) groups of students receiving targeted interventions administered by a regular education professional with frequent progress monitoring.

Only after Tier 3 has been determined to be unsuccessful for the individual can a special education referral be considered.

What can you do?

As an educational leader, become aware of the RtI model as a means of coming into compliance with the changing SLD law.

Training your professional staff in the RtI framework and selecting appropriate resources for meeting the needs of all children are the most important first steps to take in meeting this goal.

Further Reading