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RTI Background Info

The academic achievement of students is the chief concern for administrators, teachers, and parents. With high stakes testing for students and increased accountability for teachers, empirical evidence indicating that effective instruction is regularly taking place is needed. Obviously, schools cannot expect students to succeed if shortfalls in instruction hinder the level of content mastery required to demonstrate achievement.

In the past, failing grades and retention often resulted in referral to special education. As students increasingly fell behind their peers, they were more likely to meet eligibility requirements for special education services based on the long-used IQ-achievement discrepancy model (Fuchs & Fuchs, 2006b). Their academic achievement levels were incongruent with their intelligence. School districts using this traditional wait-to-fail model diagnosed learning disabilities (LD) in students but rarely indicated any deficits among educators as a potential problem. As a result, special education referrals increased with the over-identification of students with disabilities or those in need of special services (Bolden et al., 2005).

Slavin (2009) pointed out that as other professions moved towards evidence-based decision making, education lagged behind. However, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act 2004 (IDEA, 2004) states that educational agencies are no longer required to take into account whether a child has a severe discrepancy from his or her peers in terms of achievement and IQ. Instead, they can use a process that determines if the child responds to scientific, research-based intervention as a part of the evaluation process (Fuchs & Fuchs, 2006b; Marston, 2005). This is known as the response to intervention (RTI) model. Elliot (2008) defined RTI as the practice of providing high-quality instruction and intervention matched to student need, monitoring progress frequently to make decisions about changes in instruction or goals, and applying student response data to important educational decisions. A central thought in the RTI model is that learning difficulties may be external in origin. According to IDEA 2004, school districts should not only use RTI in LD identification but also in early intervening services (EIS) for students who are considered at risk for school failure (Deshler & Fuchs, 2007).

Broad terms to describe RTI are as follows: (a) students are provided with generally effective instruction by their classroom teacher; (b) their progress is monitored; (c) those who do not respond get something else, or something more, from their teacher or someone else; (d) again, their progress is monitored; (e) those who remain unresponsive get an increasingly individualized degree of instructional support from their teacher or someone else; and (f) those who still do not respond either qualify for special education or for special education evaluation (Vaughn, 2003).
A three-tier approach to instruction is the most popular method for implementing RTI for learning disability identification and EIS (Glover & DiPerna, 2007; Tilly, 2003). The Mississippi State Board of Education adopted the Three Tier Instructional Model (SBE Policy 4300) on January 21, 2005. It is designed to meet the needs of every student and consists of primary, secondary, and tertiary tiers are categories related to intervention intensity. A widely adopted aspect of the three-tier approach is the formation of local problem-solving teams often referred to as pre-referral teams, student intervention teams, or teacher support teams (Bolden et al., 2005; Kovaleski & Glew, 2006). These teams are responsible for making evidence-based decisions about learners and the development, implementation, and evaluation of instructional interventions. These teams are generally constructed and led by the building-level administrator (Kovaleski & Glew, 2006).
excerpted from Brumfield (2011)