Reading Specialists

Response to Intervention (RTI) integrates assessment and intervention within a multi-level prevention system to maximize student achievement and to reduce behavior problems.  With RTI, schools identify students at risk for poor learning outcomes, monitor student progress, provide evidence-based interventions and adjust the intensity and nature of those interventions depending on a student’s responsiveness, and identify students with learning disabilities or other disabilities.
Screening (testing) all children in a school helps identify students who may need extra help. Teachers choose specific materials or methods (the instruction or intervention) to use with children needing this extra help. Then, teachers and staff carefully keep track of whether or not the children are doing better and making progress when these materials and methods are used. (Keeping track of progress is called progress monitoring.)

Instruction that occurs in tiers, or levels, is called tiered instruction.  Tiered instruction is organized into three tiers.  Each tier is different, with each level having an increase in intensity, or an increased number of teacher-student interactions.

The instruction that students receive in the general education classroom with their regular classroom teacher is called Tier 1 instruction. All children receive this first level of reading instruction, which usually lasts about 90 minutes each day. When a screening test shows that a child is at risk for reading problems, the child may receive extra help in the general education classroom with the general education teacher. If, after a brief period of time, progress monitoring shows that there has been very little progress, the teacher will consult with other staff members at the school. Together, they might decide that the best way to help a child who has not improved with the general education curriculum (Tier 1), even with extra help, would be to give the child Tier 2 instruction.

Instruction in Tier 2 is in addition to that provided in Tier 1. Tier 2 instruction and interventions are provided with an increased level of intensity. For example, Tier 2 instruction might be provided to a small group of children for 30–40 minutes each day. Small-group instruction for an additional period of time each day has many benefits for a child needing extra help. With fewer children in a group, an individual child has more opportunities to respond, and the teacher has more immediate and appropriate feedback to that child. Tier 2 instruction also includes careful monitoring and charting of the progress each student is making.

When a student is not successful in Tier 2 instruction, the teacher meets with other school staff to decide what is best for the student and to plan for the next steps. Sometimes, it is best for the student to continue with Tier 2 instruction, but with a different type of intervention or instruction. At other times, it is best to have the child receive increasingly intense Tier 3 instruction by working with the student for a longer period of time each day.

The intensity of services is again increased in Tier 3, because the teacher typically is working with a smaller group. This results in a larger number of teacher-student interactions. Instruction can be tailored specifically to the needs of that one student. Progress is again monitored and charted frequently in Tier 3 to make sure the student is doing well and to help the teacher decide whether he or she needs to make changes in instruction. The teacher may learn from the child’s progress charts that the child needs more instructional time, for example, or needs to be taught using a different method or different materials.

When the student is successful in Tier 3, school staff and the parents decide the best way to maintain success: to continue the intense instruction or to have the child receive instruction at a lower tier. Information about a student’s instruction and progress during tiered instruction also can be very helpful in determining whether the student has a learning disability and thus would be more successful receiving special education services.

This information was gained from the National Center on Response to Intervention.

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