Response to Intervention: Information for Parents (page 3)
What is RTI?
When “formally” defined, RTI is usually described as a multi-level or tiered prevention and intervention system that is designed to maximize student achievement and/or reduce the incidence of behavioral problems. With RTI, schools are able to identify students who are at risk (usually through the use of a district-wide screening) and implement supports and interventions which are reviewed and evaluated based on collected student evidence (e.g., word fluency, math computation). Instructional adjustments are made based on the student’s response to the implemented interventions. Although it is possible that a child may be referred for special education services that is not the primary purpose of RTI. The purpose of RTI is to put interventions in place so that each student has a genuine opportunity to improve their academic or behavioral skills in the regular classroom setting. Only when it is determined that the child’s needs exceed the resources of the regular classroom is the consideration for special education services contemplated.
How does a leveled or tiered RTI system work?
A leveled or tiered model contains specific intervention or assistance stages (usually three but four and five level models also exist). According to Tilly (2008), RTI functions most effectively when a three tiered support system is used, and the following descriptions represent each of these levels.
- Tier 1 involves appropriate and effective grade level instruction for the students which helps to prevent academic or behavioral problems from emerging. Approximately 80 to 90 percent of all grade level students are expected to respond to Tier 1 instruction. Screenings are conducted in order to determine the learning progress of the students as well as identify students who may be potentially at-risk for academic or behavior related problems. Screenings can include results from state or district-wide tests (e.g. short cycle academic assessments) as well as commercial achievement measures such as AIMSweb, Discovery Education Predictive Assessment, DIBELS, Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, PALS, Predictive Assessments of Reading, and STAR, just to name a few.
- Tier 2 involves a more intense and focused intervention which is supplemental in nature and provides students who are at-risk (i.e. likely to fall behind their peers if additional help is not provided) with specific help typically provided through small group activities and instruction (standard delivery format is small groups of 3-6 students, 30-45 minute sessions two or maybe three times a week). This supplemental help is usually maintained for at least ten weeks, and it is provided in addition to the instruction that is continued as part of Tier 1. Approximately 5 to 10 percent of all grade level students may require Tier 2 support and assistance. At this level, parents can be directly involved especially if interventions are used at home.
- Tier 3 is designed to provide high-intensity instruction and intervention on an individual basis specific to the particular needs and skills issues of the student(s) that is served. One-on-one support is provided and this level serves approximately 1 to 5 percent of the students. Usually if students are not responsive to the interventions at this level, serious consideration is given for a formal school evaluation and potential qualification for special education services.
What are the benefits and challenges of RTI?
- Benefits: RTI reduces the time a student has to wait for academic help and assistance. Almost immediate help and support can be delivered.
- v The use of curriculum based measurements (i.e. short assessments that measure basic academic skills such as reading, math, writing and spelling) reduces the administration of more formal tests and measures which usually do not directly reflect the students’ current instructional curriculum.
- The progress of students is regularly monitored and reviewed.
- Challenges: RTI has been more accepted at the elementary level than at the secondary education level, and that is primarily due to how elementary (e.g., strong integration of subject matter and faculty across disciplines) and secondary (e.g., separate content and discipline areas and larger faculties provide less opportunity for collaboration) systems are set up and operate.
- RTI makes an effort to identify all students who are considered to be at risk and need extra assistance. However, students who are highly intelligent and may not be performing at their highest level may not be identified as needing extra assistance because they are performing at a level that may be considered acceptable.
- As part of any good assessment process, reliance on only one source of information is never a wise choice. Therefore, RTI should not be the only source of student learning evidence. Other sources of information need to be included especially when important decisions about student learning are being made.
What are my responsibilities as a parent?
- It is best to be involved in all levels of RTI, and that starts when the results of the screening are discussed. If interventions are implemented, parents can provide feedback on how the intervention helped or did not help their child.
- Ask questions about how the school conducts their RTI process and how interventions are delivered. Be informed about your parental rights and your role as a central member of your child’s school team.
- Parental participation has a positive influence on the behavioral and academic abilities of a child; that is why it is so important for parents to be a part of the educational process.
- Parental involvement is needed and an open line of communication between parents and teachers is highly encouraged.
Where does RTI take place?
- Because RTI is designed as a prevention and intervention system, it is implemented in the general education classroom, as noted in Tier 1. RTI can also be utilized when students are scheduled to be pulled out of the general classroom momentarily for extra help in various resource classrooms. The home is also a great place to practice the interventions applied under RTI.
What are AIMSweb and DIBELS?
- AIMSweb and DIBELS are two formal achievement measurement systems that are used for screening, benchmarking and progress monitoring of reading skills. They are two of the most common achievement measures used in elementary schools today. Reading literacy skills are measured ranging from kindergarten to sixth grade. Both measurements have a computerized database that keeps an accurate record of each student’s progress. Also, AIMSweb has a math component while DIBELS deals exclusively with reading literacy.
Common RTI Terms
- Benchmark: an established level of performance on a test that is usually represented as a score or score band that indicates a certain proficiency (e.g. below, on, or above grade level) or mastery level.
- Curriculum Based Assessment (CBM): in-class assessments that measure basic academic skills (e.g., reading, math, spelling) that are developed from the classroom curriculum. Ideally, these assessments are administered frequently (i.e. once a week or once every two weeks) and the results are graphed, reviewed, and compared to a set goal/performance level.
- Progress monitoring: is the measurement and review of an individual student’s academic performance. Progress monitoring is carried out in order to document student performances and to help identify students who are not demonstrating adequate progress, relative to their classroom peers. The review of student information allows for a teacher to modify instruction in order to make it more effective.
- Universal screener: Usually takes place at the beginning or during the school year. The purpose of the screening is to identify students who are not meeting academic standards at their grade level and considered to be at-risk for later achievement problems.
RTI serves as an intervention “safety net” that has really never existed for students until now. It ensures that all students are served according to their need within the regular classroom setting. And when every student gets what they need in the classroom, student success is assured. To increase your knowledge and understanding of RTI consider the following websites.
RTI Parent Resources
Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004, 20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq. (2004).
No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (ESEA), Pub. L. No. 107-110 (2002).
Tilly, W. D. III (2008). The evolution of school psychology to science-based practice: Problem-solving and the three-tiered model. In A. Thomas & J. Grimes (Eds.), Best practices in school psychology V (pp.17-36). Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists.
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