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The RtI Model: Does It Address the Needs of Gifted Students?

written by: Keren Perles • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 9/11/2012

The RtI model has become an important component of many modern classrooms. But does it really benefit everyone? Some question whether students who are gifted and RtI model instruction can ever truly combine. Here's why.

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    RtI in a Nutshell

    RtI (Response to Intervention) is a model of teaching instruction that encourages research-based decisions as to the instruction that is best for each student. In the RtI model, the majority of students will benefit from instruction that is on grade level, but some will benefit most from instruction one level below, and a third group would benefit most from instruction one level below that. The key to the RtI method is the flexibility between the levels; when students learning at the lower levels of instruction improve their work, they can move up to the higher levels of instruction. The main goal of RtI is to individualize instruction so that each student receives instruction on the level that would be most beneficial to him or her.

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    Where Do Gifted Students Fit?

    One issue that has been raised with the RtI model is whether the creators of the RtI model took gifted students into account. After all, most of the language in the materials discussing RtI focus on struggling learners, and how their needs can be addressed. What about gifted students? Can the gifted and RtI model instruction coexist?

    Some schools and school systems have modified the RtI model to take into account higher achievers and gifted students as well. After all, if struggling students can benefit from individualized education, gifted students can benefit as well. Many school systems, however, by focusing on the struggling end of the spectrum of students, seem to overlook the needs of the more gifted students in their classes.

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    Do Gifted Students Need Intervention?

    One of the arguments used against the need for gifted students to be included in the RtI model is the belief that gifted students will learn “no matter what." If you’d put them in an empty room with some pencil and paper, it’s said, these students would succeed anyway.

    This could not be farther from the truth. Studies have shown that MOTS (more of the same) not only bores gifted students, it can also actually limit their learning. Students who are bored by typical instruction deserve to be challenged in the classroom. If your child is gifted and RtI model instruction in the school does not seem to address her needs, consider speaking to the teacher or the principal about your concerns. After all, gifted students deserve to learn just as much as struggling students, and it is up to the schools to find a way to individualize instruction for every student.

Gifted Education

The topic of gifted education contains many controversies, and gifted students seem to be caught between both sides. This series of articles will examine several different aspects of gifted education - why we need it, and how educational philosophies relate to it.
  1. The Need for Gifted Education: Why It’s So Important
  2. The Debate About Teaching Gifted Students
  3. Nature vs. Nurture: Which Causes Giftedness?
  4. The RtI Model: Does It Address the Needs of Gifted Students?