Response to Intervention (RTI)



    What is RTI?

    Response to Intervention (RTI) is a multi-tier approach to the early identification and support of students with learning and behavior needs. The RTI process begins with high-quality instruction and universal screening of all children in the general education classroom. Struggling learners are provided with interventions at increasing levels of intensity to accelerate their rate of learning.


    Progress is closely monitored to assess both the learning rate and level of performance of individual students. Educational decisions about the intensity and duration of interventions are based on individual student response to instruction. RTI is designed for use when making instructional decisions, creating a well-integrated system of instruction and intervention guided by child outcome data.



    Essential Components

    The following essential components must be implemented with fidelity and in a rigorous manner:

    • High-quality, scientifically based classroom instruction. All students receive high-quality, research-based instruction in the general education classroom.

    Ongoing student assessment. Universal screening and progress monitoring provide information about a student’s learning rate and level of achievement, both individually and in comparison with the peer group. These data are then used when determining which students need closer monitoring or intervention. Throughout the RTI process, student progress is monitored frequently to examine student achievement and gauge the effectiveness of the curriculum. Decisions made regarding students’ instructional needs are based on multiple data points taken in context over time.

    Tiered instruction. A multi-tier approach is used to efficiently differentiate instruction for all students. The model incorporates increasing intensities of instruction offering specific, research-based interventions matched to student needs.

    Parent involvement. The RTI process provides parents with information about their child’s progress, the instruction and interventions used, the staff who are delivering the instruction and the academic or behavioral goals for their child.


    Historic Background

    RTI is based upon research indicating that many students respond to high quality instruction/intervention and therefore may not need special education or other services (Fuchs, 2003). The reauthorized IDEA 2004 states that “…a local agency may use a process that determines if the child responds to scientific, research-based intervention as part of the evaluation procedures.”

    IDEA 2004 also states that when determining a child has a specific learning disability the discrepancy between achievement and intellectual ability is not required. Under IDEA 2004 fifteen percent a portion of special education Part B funds may be used for the prevention of disability categorization. Before moving to a special education referral documentation of intense interventions must be evidenced and the student’s progress indicates the student did not respond productively to the interventions.

    The Georgia Department of Education has established the Georgia Student Achievement Pyramid of Interventions, a framework of instructional strategies that can be provided in a standards-based learning environment to maximize student achievement for ALL students. It is a proactive approach utilizing the provision of evidence-based, differentiated instruction using grade-level Georgia Performance Standards (GPS) as its foundation.


    Four-Tiered Pyramid of Interventions


    The RTI process implemented in the Paulding County School District is defined as a four-tiered Pyramid Model of school supports that uses research-based academic and/or behavioral interventions. By frequently monitoring student progress, educators engage in a problem-solving approach to close the achievement gap for students. The four-tiered model is a fluid process whereby students may be moved in and out of a tier on a needs-based continuum.


    Tier 1: High-Quality Classroom Instruction, Screening, and Group Interventions

    Within Tier 1, all students receive high-quality, scientifically based instruction provided by qualified personnel to ensure that their difficulties are not due to inadequate instruction. All students are screened on a periodic basis to establish an academic and behavioral baseline and to identify struggling learners who need additional support. Students identified as being “at risk” through universal screenings and/or results on state or district wide tests receive supplemental instruction during the school day in the regular classroom. The length of time for this step can vary, but it should be at least six to eight weeks. During that time, student progress is closely monitored using a validated screening system such as curriculum-based measurement. At the end of this period, students showing significant progress are generally returned to the regular classroom program. Students not showing adequate progress are moved to Tier 2.


    Tier 2: Targeted Interventions, Needs-Based Instruction

    Students not making adequate progress in the regular classroom in Tier 1 are provided with increasingly intensive instruction matched to their needs on the basis of levels of performance and rates of progress. Intensity varies across group size, frequency and duration of intervention, and level of training of the professionals providing instruction or intervention. These services and interventions are provided in small-group settings in addition to instruction in the general curriculum. In the early grades (kindergarten through third), interventions are usually in the areas of reading and math. A longer period of time may be required for this tier, but it should generally not exceed a grading period. Students who continue to show too little progress at this level of intervention are then considered for more intensive interventions as part of Tier 3.


    Tier 3: Intensive Interventions and Comprehensive Evaluation Student Support Team (SST)

    At this level, students receive individualized, intensive interventions that target the students’ skill deficits. The Student Support Team process is required under state and federal regulations. A team of professionals develops an intervention plan for a struggling student to promote student success in the general education environment. See Student Support Team (SST).


    Tier 4: Specially Designed Instruction, Special Education

    Students who do not achieve the desired level of progress in response to these targeted interventions in Tier 2 and 3 are then referred for a comprehensive evaluation and considered for eligibility for special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEIA 2004). The data collected during Tiers 1, 2, and 3 are included and used to make the eligibility decision. It should be noted that at any point in an RTI process, IDEIA 2004 allows parents to request a formal evaluation to determine eligibility for special education. An RTI process cannot be used to deny or delay a formal evaluation for special education.


    Pyramid Of Intervention Chart

    Standards-based differentiated instruction

    Tier 1 Standards Based Learning

    Who: All Students

    What: Standards-based differentiated instruction

    When: Integrated instruction within regular school day

    Where: Regular classroom setting

    Tier 2 Needs-Based Learning

    Who: Small groups of students who need additional help or remediation

    What: Supplemental Needs-Based Instruction with focus on particular skills

    When: Additional time before/after school, small group classes

    Where: Within or outside regular class setting

    *Parent contacted; Progress monitored up to 9 weeks

    Tier 3 Student Support Team

    Who: Individual students who do not meet standards after Tier 2 interventions

    What: Individualized research-based interventions

    When: Additional learning time in schedule

    Where: Within or outside regular classroom

    *Parent must be invited to all SST meetings; Progress monitored for total of 12 weeks

    Tier 4 Specially Designed Learning

    Who: Students with special needs and an Individual Education Plan (IEP)

    What: Intensive individualized instruction through Special Education (ESEP)

    When: During academic day

    Where: Inclusion or small group setting

    *Parent consent required

    Parent Resource:

    The following link is with permission to the National Association of School Psychologists article, (RTI): A Primer for Parents. The article answers questions regarding the Response to Intervention process and how parents can be involved. 
    Go to RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION (RTI):A Primer for Parents.