Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The RTI (Response to Intervention) process and its benefits

By Clayton Westerbeck, Greenville High School Assistant Principal

The RTI (Response to Intervention) program is a program designed to identify at risk students grades K-12 who are struggling in school academically or behaviorally. Progress of these students is monitored, research-based interventions are applied and the frequency/intensity of these interventions are adjusted, as needed. If data is collected and interventions are provided, students with learning disabilities or other impairments are identified and can be moved to other appropriate programs and plans to fit their needs. Students are placed into three tiers based on the severity of their needs. Tier I- This tier consists of universal strategies, high quality core curriculum, research-based strategies and school wide screening to identify students at risk and the design is within their regular education classes.

Tier II-The second tier consists of instructional modifications and assessments that are developed for students who do not respond to Tier I strategies. The educational environment is evaluated along with the students’ skills. Specific interventions are designed and delivered, often times in a small group setting. Progress is measured frequently. Tier III- This tier is designed for students who have not responded to the interventions already in place.

Interventions at this level are further specialized and individualized. Students at this level may be further evaluated for special education services. Part of the assessment for this is the RTI data collected during Tiers 1-3.

At all three tiers the school must take into account the interventions that have been implemented, as well as the cultural backgrounds for students. Cultural backgrounds, for example, can have an impact on implementation of support structures such as in the case of English language learners. These conversations would include school psychologists, special education specialists and curriculum specialists. When problems are identified early, implementations can support the student and allow the school to meet the individual student learning needs.

Some schools offer various programs such as tutoring programs, pull out programs that allow for small group instruction or even less effective options, such as grade retention. If a student has spent time cycling through each tier within the RTI program with little or no improvement, then they would be assessed by a team of educational professionals to see if the student qualifies for special education services. The RTI program is a research- based intervention system that thrives on communication and collaboration within the school. Data on each students’ successes and failures must be tracked with supports put in place, as needed, for the student to grow academically.

Parent involvement within the program is paramount in reinforcing academic and behavioral interventions. Keep in mind that different age groups of students will require a different approach as far as strategies and needs. Elementary RTI increases the accountability for outcomes of identifying and circumventing risk for academic failure. At the Middle and High School level, the focus is on monitoring response to intervention to determine when academic benchmarks are made so that the student can be transitioned down the RTI pyramid. RTI is another tool to identify, monitor and teach our students of all ages who have difficulty in school, how to be successful.

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