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Response to Intervention

Response to Intervention (RtI) is a process that schools use to help children who are struggling academically or behaviorally. The purpose of RtI is to meet students where they are and progress them forward in their skills. This process also helps to distinguish between students who need intervention to advance their skills and students who require specially designed instruction as a student with an identified disability.

With RtI, schools identify students at risk for not meeting learning outcomes, provide evidence-based interventions, adjust the intensity and nature of those interventions depending on a student’s responsiveness, and monitor their progress. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 2004, states may no longer require the use of a severe discrepancy model between intellectual ability and achievement for determining whether a child has a specific learning disability. Additionally, states must allow school systems to include a child’s response to scientific, research-based intervention as part of determining whether or not that child has a specific learning disability (SLD) or other learning needs.

RtI is divided into three tiers. In Tier I, students experiencing learning needs are identified through their performance and provided with small group interventions through the core curriculum in the classroom. The teacher monitors their response to strategies and makes adjustments in the delivery of the curriculum to determine if the student’s needs are met or the student needs more intensive interventions.

If the child does not respond to the first level of group-oriented interventions, he or she moves to Tier II. The length of time in Tier II is generally a bit longer than in Tier I, and the level of intensity and individualization of the interventions are increased. Child progress is again closely monitored. The child’s teacher will notify the family of their area for concern, how they will intervene with this concern, and how they will track information related to the child’s progress. If the child shows adequate progress, then the intervention has been successful and will continue. It is quite possible that, if the problem is caught early enough and addressed via appropriate instruction, the child learns the skills necessary to continue in general education without further intervention.

Students who do not respond to Tier II instruction move into Tier III instruction. At Tier III a building team will convene, including the parents, to share information on the interventions tried and to present the data collected on the child’s progress. Through discussions at Tier III, teams will make decisions about whether to change out interventions and continue to monitor progress, or to move towards a referral for an evaluation to determine if special education services are needed. The data gathered on the child’s response to interventions in Tiers I, II and III becomes a part of the Evaluation Team Report written by a school psychologist in making a determination as to whether the child is a child with special needs.

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS)

RtI is related to areas of need for academics and behavioral performance. Schools are required to implement Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS). This is a school-wide system of support that includes proactive strategies for defining, teaching and supporting appropriate student behaviors to create positive school environments. A continuum of positive behavior support for all students within a school is implemented in areas including the classroom and non-classroom settings (such as hallways, buses and restrooms).

In the past, school discipline nationwide focused mainly on reacting to specific student misbehavior by implementing punishment-based strategies including reprimands, loss of privileges, office referrals, suspensions and expulsions. Research has shown that the implementation of punishment, in the absence of positive strategies and active teaching of expectations, is ineffective. Introducing, modeling and reinforcing positive social behavior is an important step of a student's educational experience. The purpose of school-wide PBIS is to establish a school culture in which appropriate behavior is the norm. Some schools in the district have implemented school designed approaches to PBIS, while other buildings in the district combine a school designed approach with a published curriculum, such as the Zones of Regulation.