Response to Intervention (RtI) Tier Approach for Students With Disabilities

RtI Model – Intervention for Students with Disabilites

Response to Intervention (RtI) is an intervention provision recommended as an inclusion into the newly written federal legislation of IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) 2004. The major focus of RtI is to provide a comprehensive intervention approach for students with disabilities and those identified as at risk in grade level performances.

By providing a whole school approach in the examination of the cause and effect relationships between how students perform academically and behaviorally in the classroom, RtI offers a three-tiered approach to proactive student intervention. If schools can provide highly qualified instructions addressing the academic and behavioral needs of students identified as at risk, then their learning disabilities can be addressed during early learning development. The RtI model contains inclusive strategies used to provide early identification of students needing educational support. Education decisions are then made for the students that are measurable and performance based.

Part I – RtI Model – Team Approach

In the RtI model, a team approach is used in secondary school communities, to collect measurable data from pre and post-assessments in subject content areas, along with behavioral data to monitor the progress of students identified as at risk for learning disabilities and special education services. In accessing student academic progress, the RtI team is able to look at progress reports, standardized assessment scores, and specific testing results from Brigance reading and math skill level assessments to create primary, secondary and tertiary intervention strategies.

Part II – First RtI Tier

Baseline data is used to create the first RtI tier. In this tier, intervention services would include community and school resources and services that meet the stipulations of IDEA legal requirements. If a student’s reading level is assessed as below grade level, a reading program can be used as an intervention to address reading deficiencies in the secondary tier. In the first tier, students are monitored in content subject areas to assess reading levels and identify specific difficulties such as comprehension or critical thinking skills, which can be addressed in the reading program.

Part III – Second RtI Tier

When students are assessed as having a reading difficulty, the second RtI tier, interventions may include a referral to a reading specialist or a speech pathologist who can determine the level of reading difficulties and propose a reading pull-out class or an online tutorial reading program such as phonics or whole language inclusion to address the specified reading issues. In the third RtI tier, additional interventions are used to bring the students to reading proficiency, if the second tier strategies are not providing the necessary intervention to improve the student’s reading skills.

Part IV – Tertiary RtI Tier

In one suburban high school in Seattle, WA, students who are not achieving at grade level are scheduled into elective reading and math tutorial classes, along with grade level core subjects. Students are given one on one tutorial support in the elective classes and provided with additional tutorial support in the core content areas. Teachers can assign students to an after school program called Study Club which meets Mondays-Thursdays from 2:30-4:00pm in various classrooms and in the library. Students are provided with an after school activity bus (pick-up at 4:15pm) for transportation home.

The RtI model is a recommended inclusion in the legal mandates of IDEA 2004. As a proactive intervention clause specific to addressing student academic and behavioral deficiencies, RtI remains a powerful tool in helping students with disabilities master the educational skills necessary for academic and behavioral achievement for secondary school and beyond.