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Questions + Answers

Response to Intervention

Frequent questions

  • Question 1: What is the purpose of Response to Intervention?
  • Question 2: What are most important elements of Response to Intervention?
  • Question 3: What is the relationship between Response to Intervention and referral to special education?

Expert answers

1) What is the purpose of Response to Intervention?

"Response to Intervention" (RTI) is a process that refers to how well students respond to research-based instruction. The purpose of the program is to provide a safety net for at-risk readers, some of whom have learning disabilities. At one time, students could not get help until they were failing. The idea of RTI is to catch students when they begin to struggle. RTI supports their success through scientific, research based instruction. The child is tested to see how well the instruction works.

2) What are most important elements of Response to Intervention?

Some of the core features are:

  • Scientifically based instruction
  • Screening all students in the school
  • Three tiers of increasingly intense instruction. The first tier occurs in regular education.
  • Continuously monitoring students progress through objective tests. This monitoring is used to determine changes in how the child is taught.
  • Continuing progress monitoring throughout instruction and evaluating the changes.
  • Involving the parent throughout the process.
  • Following the timelines of IDEA 2004, unless both the parent and teacher agree to change them.

3) What is the relationship between Response to Intervention and referral to special education?

Response to Intervention requires that students be provided with effective instruction. IDEA 2004 offered greater flexibility to schools. Before passage of the law, students had to show a "severe discrepancy" between intellectual ability and achievement in order to considered "learning disabled" for the purposes of special education. This often meant they had to fail before they could be referred.

The purpose of RTI is to prevent failure — and to refer them before they fail. The student must be provided instruction through techniques that are scientifically proven. Their progress must be monitored. Students are referred only if they do not respond to the instruction. If they do not respond, the school does a comprehensive assessment to determine whether or not a learning disability exists.

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