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Response to intervention.

Response to Intervention

(RTI) is a hot-button issue for parents, educators, and advocates of people with disabilities. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 2004 has brought RTI to the forefront in the identification of children with high-incidence disabilities. The theory and practice behind RTI is how best to provide learning support to children before referral for special education services.

The difficulties with the traditional IQ-Achievement Discrepancy Model were acknowledged by both the House and Senate during the course of the reauthorization of IDEA in 1997. As a result, a local education agency (LEA) is now permitted, but not required, to use RTI in the identification of children who will benefit from scientifically based instruction as soon as possible. Special education would then be able to focus on children who, even with targeted supports, are not able to be successful.

The National Research Center on Learning Disabilities (NRCLD) defines RTI as: " assessment and intervention process for systematically monitoring student progress and making decisions about the need for instructional modifications or increasingly intensified services using progress monitoring data."

Response To Intervention: An Alternative to Traditional Eligibility Criteria for Students with Disabilities (July 2005), a report published by Education Evolving, a joint project of the Center for Policy Studies and Hamline University, provides 10 points for understanding the implementation of the RTI model. A summary of these 10 points:

1) Description of the Problem: What difficulties does the teacher report the student as having? A statement such as "Student is reading poorly" is too general. Examples of decoding, retelling skills, and words correctly read per minute from a grade-appropriate passage and how the child responds to questions about the passage will give a better picture of needs. The teacher gathers achievement, state test scores, attendance, and relevant academic data at this point.

2) Student Strengths and Weaknesses: The focus is on creating an environment of success. Looking at the child as a whole learner, the teacher is able to give valuable input regarding the learning style and skill sets the child has in place that will be used to formulate possible interventions.

3) Relevant Health or Other Issues: Is there a hearing, visual, physical, or health impairment that would hinder learning?

4) Hypothesis Regarding Student Needs: This involves identification of an intervention to address stated concerns. The teacher formulates ideas regarding why the student isn't learning and possible solutions. For a student who struggles with decoding, a reading program that targets alphabetic instruction and phonemic awareness would be a possibility.

5) Type of Intervention Selected: The above hypothesis helps guide the selection of intervention. The teacher now finds the appropriate intervention for the child's stated needs.

6) Length of Time of Intervention: Intervention length will vary due to publisher recommendations, research data, student scheduling factors, availability of resources, and student attendance. Continual review of student progress in RTI will enable the teacher to see if the intervention is successful.

7) Student Goal: Setting a goal for the student to achieve is critical to the RTI process. This requires identifying where the student is and determining what skills the child could attain with the intervention. Information from L. Fuchs in Best Practices in School Psychology IV (2002) is an excellent reference for goal setting.

8) Measures Used for Progress Monitoring and Decision Rules: The school must identify the curriculum areas to be targeted. These areas must align with the curriculum measures for the grade level the student is in. Utilizing a Curriculum-Based Measurement (CBM) is a useful tool in gauging student growth. Students reaching proficiency levels based on universal screening tools will show progress or lack thereof to RTI.

9) Evidence of Response or Non-Response to Intervention: This is performed by the teacher and/or team. A consistent, planned review of student RTI provides the baseline for determining further or modified interventions, or discontinuation of interventions.

10) Decision: Is the student showing progress based on CBM? Evaluation of general education interventions with increased intensity in type and length of intervention provide the basis to determine if interventions at present levels should be continued as planned, increased, or decreased. A referral for special education services is recommended when general education interventions show lack of progress.

Many states have established information to help school districts understand and use RTI to determine eligibility and to help struggling learners. They point to the need for a multi-tiered approach to determining a child's need for RTI and possible need for special education. Such a multi-tiered RTI model includes the following:

* Tier 1: This provides Core Interventions to all students, in all settings. This is proactive and preventative. This tier represents 8090 percent of students in the general education setting.

* Tier 2: This provides Strategic Interventions. This tier is targeted to some at-risk students, is of high efficiency, and monitoring occurs twice a month for 5-10 percent of students. These interventions are short-term in duration (9-12 weeks) and are in place for immediate implementation. Curriculum-Based Measurement (CBM) tools are used to monitor progress.

* Tier 3: This opens to individual students, is target assessment-based, and progressive. Monitoring increases to once a week for 1-5 percent of students. These interventions are usually provided in small groups and may occur for more than 9-12 weeks. Targeted assessments are typically conducted when a student enters this tier.

The IDEA 2004 regulations provide clarification on the use of RTI, in [section] 300.307 (a) and (b). Comment and discussion of the regulations is found on pages 46646-49 of the Federal Register, published on August 14, 2004.

By researching RTI theory, practice, and law, we see a strong argument for parent education and participation in the general and special education processes. During this time of flux as states and school districts align RTI theory with practice, a parent's skills as an advocate become increasingly important. Gaining an understanding of laws and RTI implementation plans for your state will serve you well.

For more information about the NRCLD and the tool, Learning Disabilities Resource Kit: Specific Learning Disabilities Determination Procedures and Responsiveness to Intervention, visit the NRCLD Web site, at

To view the report titled, Response To Intervention: An Alternative to Traditional Eligibility Criteria for Students with Disabilities (July 2005), go to sponse_to_Intervention.pdf.

For more information about STOMP and its resources for military families, visit

Karen Elliott is a staff member of Specialized Training of Military Parents (STOMP). A military wife of 15 years, she and her husband have two children enrolled in the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP).
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Title Annotation:United States Military Section
Author:Elliott, Karen
Publication:The Exceptional Parent
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2008
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