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The Response to Intervention process, or RTI, was designed and implemented in public schools as an attempt at early intervention for students with exceptional educational needs. In this video, we will look at the basics of this process.

RTI: A Helpful Approach

Let’s face it; kids grow up fast. Anyone who has kids of their own or who has ever worked with children knows the truth held in this statement. As children grow and develop, it is critical that their educational needs are rapidly met. However, there has traditionally been a major setback in the school setting.

Identifying students with special needs can be a lengthy process.When working with developing children, time is not a luxury, especially when a child is struggling. This is one of the main reasons the Response to Intervention process, or RTI, was developed. RTI is a multi-tiered early intervention approach designed to support struggling learners in both academic and behavioral areas. In many ways, the RTI process is a commonsense approach to helping students who have unique needs.RTI is a three-tiered process that involves constant progress monitoring, data-based decision making, and universal screening. In this video, we will take a look at the basics of RTI and walk through each tier of the process.

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RTI: The Basics

While RTI does involve evaluating and monitoring both students’ academics and behavior, RTI has a heavy academic focus because the goal of RTI is to make sure students are successful in school. Typically, behavioral support is offered through a similar system known as Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, or PBIS, which is a school-wide tiered behavior support system. For the purposes of this video, we will turn our attention to the more academic focus of RTI.

When considering RTI, there is one major keyword to keep in mind: data. Essentially, RTI is a process that allows professionals to make decisions that are based on data. In the RTI model, schools develop a multi-tiered system that supports positive behavior and academic success. Once this plan is developed, students are screened, or evaluated.

These screenings are usually referred to as universal screenings because they are screenings that include all students in a school. This allows educators to identify students who may be at risk of school failure.After this initial screening, educators will implement progress monitoring strategies.

Progress monitoring is simply a phrase used to describe follow-up assessments that provide information on whether or not students are making positive progress in response to instruction. Educators will use research-based measures to assure that students who are responding poorly to instruction are identified.The combination of universal screening and continued progress monitoring allows educators to make data-based decisions, or decisions based on the analysis of data, to identify students who are at risk for school failure. This data is used to inform placement within the tiered levels of RTI.

To get a better understanding, let’s take a look at each tier of RTI through an example.

Tier 1: Primary Prevention

In RTI, tier 1 is considered the base level. This is where the vast majority of all students will remain. While percentages vary from school to school, typically about 80% of students would have all of their educational needs met within tier 1. Tier 1 is really just comprised of quality, research-based classroom instruction.

Good teaching of a quality curriculum is the heart and soul of tier 1. However, not all students respond adequately to this instruction. When this happens, these students are placed in tier 2 of RTI.

Tier 2: Secondary Prevention

Tier 2 is considered to serve about 15% of students. In tier 2, a research-based intervention is implemented, typically in an adult-led small group setting.

This is simply a way to give extra support to struggling students. Data is regularly collected and analyzed. When this data reveals that students are still not responding to instruction, these students move up to tier 3.

Tier 3: Tertiary Prevention

Tier 3 is the most intense level of RTI. In tier 3, interventions are much more individualized for the struggling student. The student’s particular needs are taken into account, and all data from tier 1 and tier 2 are analyzed.

Once an intervention is designed, it will be evaluated frequently. Approximately 5% of students will be served in tier 3.

RTI and Special Education

Before we end our lesson, we should clear up one common misconception regarding RTI. RTI and special education are not synonymous. RTI does not take the place of special education services.

On the contrary, RTI is a process designed to make the special education referral process much more streamlined and data-driven. Because of the frequent progress monitoring in RTI, struggling students can receive support in a very rapid manner, and if special education services are considered, data will be available to support the decision-making process.

Lesson Summary

To summarize, the Response to Intervention process, or RTI, is a multi-tiered early intervention approach designed to support struggling learners in both academic and behavioral areas. RTI consists of three tiers of interventions: primary, secondary, and tertiary. An estimated 80% of students are successful in tier 1, 15% in tier 2, and 5% in tier 3.

RTI consists of the use of universal screening and progress monitoring in order to make data-based decisions. RTI is not a replacement for special education but rather a way for struggling students to gain rapid support prior to a potential referral for special education services. Through the use of RTI, it is hopeful that fewer students will fall behind in their education.

Learning Outcomes

Absorb the details of this lesson in order to:

  • Realize the purpose of the RTI process
  • Understand the way in which universal screening and progress monitoring work together
  • Name and elaborate upon the RTI’s three tiers

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