What is RTI?

Response to Intervention (RTI) is a tiered process including research-based instruction and interventions for students according to need. Simply stated, RTI offers a strategy for teachers to continuously serve students based on their response to the provided interventions.

RTI is a three-tiered system usually represented by figure below. 

The Discrepancy Model: 1977  

 Under 1977 Federal Regulations, the Discrepancy model is introduced. With this model, a child demonstrating a large discrepancy between achievement and ability qualifies for services. This model prevailed in education for 25 years.

IDEA (Original): 1998

The discrepancy model still prevails. The IRA (International Reading Association) takes exception to the discrepancy model because too many children are being identified due to under achievement in reading. The IRA lobbied in 1998 to have IDEA amended "to include at least one year of expert, intensive reading intervention before a student could be referred for special education evaluation." The IRA was not successful at this time.

The suggestions of the IRA are consistent with the RTI model in that they push for more proactive measures. Also, the "expert, intensive intervention" is mirrored in scientifically-based interventions used in the RTI process.

No Child Left Behind: 2001

According to Section 1001 (9) of NCLB, schools can achieve the purpose of this act by "promoting schoolwide reform and ensuring the access of children to effective, scientifically based instructional strategies and challenging academic content." This use of scientifically based strategies is at the heart of RTI. 

Reauthorization of IDEA: 2004 

Schools are now permitted to use alternative models of identification. The following excerpts of this act hold important components leading to RTI.

Sec. 614, b, 5, A of IDEA 2004: “…a child shall not be determined to be a child with a disability if the determinant factor for such determination is—(A) lack of appropriate instruction in reading including in the essential components of reading instruction…”

The "lack of appropriate instruction" alludes to the proactive, rather than reactive nature of RTI. Schools must now ensure that students are receiving adequate instruction, through the use of evidence based practices, before identifcation.

Sec 615, b, 6, B of IDEA 2004: “…In determining whether a child has a specific learning disability, a local educational agency may use a process that determines if the child responds to scientific, research-based intervention as a part of the evaluation procedures.”

The language "responds to scientific, research-based intervention" describes the goal of RTI: to make decisions driven by real reactions of students to intervention.

Tier 1 

Tier 1 interventions address 80% of all students and is conducted in a general education setting using the core curriculum. Instruction should be differentiated and individualized as much as possible.

Tier 1 interventions include any of your quality instruction strategies used to teach the entire class. Examples may include:

--Interactive Read Aloud
--Story Maps

--Math fact practice
--Large group math game

--Daily spelling practice
--Hunk and Chunks

Tier 2

Tier 2 addresses 15% of all students. More intensive, small group interventions are developed for specific interventions based on individual student needs. Tier 2 instruction is either the responsibility of the classroom teacher, special education teacher, speech language pathologist, or other specialists.

Tier 2 interventions may include:

--Meeting with a small group struggling with comprehension twice a week to practice strategies

--Small group math center focusing on a specific skill

After Tier 2 interventions, students are assessed again. This may occur multiple times before moving to a different tier. Interventions may be adjusted accordingly.

Tier 3

Tier 3 addresses 5% of all students. This tier involves highly intensive, specifically targeted individual instruction with even more frequent progress monitoring that may include placement in special education. The dual purposes of Tier 3 problem solving are to resolve learning and behavior problems and preventing the need for special education.

Tier 3 interventions may include:

--Daily sight word practice
--Sight word "folding in"

--Daily flashcard practice

After Tier 3 interventions, students are assessed again. This may occur multiple times before moving to a different tier. Interventions may be adjusted accordingly.


 Scientifically Based Research 

  • This website provides an extensive set of strategies pulled from scientifically based research. The interventions are split between reading, math, writing and miscellaneous. Also included with this resource are assessment, screening and progress monitoring tools.

Intervention Central 

  • Intervention Central provides a diverse menu of interventions for multiple subject areas as well as helpful tools for professionals using the RTI model. This resource includes a behavior report card generator and a graph maker, which streamlines the process of data collection and reporting.

 RTI Network 

  • Among the many helpful tools on the RTI Action Network website are descriptive guidelines for school professionals beginning to implement RTI in their schools. This website is a must-see for all those new to the RTI model.

National Center on Response to Intervention 

  • This website created by the National Center on Response to Intervention provides a detailed description of the model, resources and tips for implementation. Perhaps the most helpful resource on this website is the comprehensive "Screening Tools Chart," which evaluates and compares popular screening tools.

Building RTI Capacity 

  •  Building RTI Capacity provides many sample interventions as well as presentations over many aspects of RTI. These presentations and related materials are ideal for professional development during initial implementation and maintenance of the RTI system.

RTI Wire 

  • This page provides links to a number of additional websites which outline specific strategies and supply resources for teachers using interventions for specific skills and subjects.

Response to Intervention 

  • This resource is ideal for schools providing professional development in RTI. It offers interactive presentations, print resources and RTI explanations that guide professionals in their start with RTI.

RTI App 

  • Follow this link to the iTunes app store to check out the RTI app for iPhone/iPad.

U.S. Department of Education on Scientifically Based Research  

  • This link leads to the U.S. Department of Education's page on scientifically based research. Explanations, actual research and strategies are available on this site.