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Research Spotlight on Response to Intervention

NEA Reviews of the Research on Best Practices in Education

Found In: teaching strategies

Response to intervention (RTI) is a tiered approach to the early identification and support of students with learning and behavior needs.

The RTI process begins with high-quality instruction and screening of all the children in the general education classroom. As a result of this screening process, struggling learners are provided with interventions at increasing levels of intensity to accelerate their rate of comprehension. These services are often provided by a variety of personnel, including regular classroom teachers, special educators, and specialists. Students are closely monitored to assess both their rate of learning and level of performance.

The RTI process begins with high-quality instruction and screening of all the children in the general education classroom. As a result of this screening process, struggling learners are provided with interventions at increasing levels of intensity to accelerate their rate of comprehension. These services are often provided by a variety of personnel, including regular classroom teachers, special educators, and specialists. Students are closely monitored to assess both their rate of learning and level of performance.

RTI seeks to prevent academic failure through early intervention, frequent progress measurement, and increasingly intensive research-based instructional interventions for children who continue to have difficulty. Students who do not show a response to effective interventions are likely (or, more likely than students who respond) to have biologically based learning disabilities and to be in need of special education (Cortiella, 2006).

In order for RTI implementation to work well (RTI Action Network, 2008), the following essential components must be in place:

  • High quality, scientifically based classroom instruction. All students receive high quality, research-based instruction in the general education classroom.
  • On-going 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.
  • 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. Schools implementing RTI provide parents information about their child's progress, the instructions and interventions used, the staff who are delivering the instruction and the academic or behavioral goals for the child.

For children with learning disabilities, RTI may assist schools in avoiding the so-called "wait-to-fail" method by providing intervention as soon as children exhibit difficulty.

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