In Bullying in Schools, Learning Disabilities, Teachers, Teachers' Advice

Response to Intervention: All You Need to Know

Response to Intervention (RTI)

Children are the investment of every society; they are the hope of a better and happier future. That is why children’s education is a very vital matter and a lot of effort and time are regularly spent to ensure that the process is smooth and successful. Response to intervention (RTI) is one method that comes to the rescue when the learning process stumbles upon an obstacle. In this article, you will learn about the different aspects of RTI and how it can effectively change lives.

What is Response to Intervention?

Response to intervention (RTI) is an approach that aims to identify special learning or behavioral needs in students with learning difficulties, enabling individual-specific intervention that provides assistance and support.

Children learn with different paces and what works for one child might not work for the other. While one person might find a visual method very enlightening, another person might prefer to listen and repeat what they learn. For the little ones, education can get tricky if a child has a concentration problem or other learning difficulties. RTI basically identifies children who have learning problems and selects the most suitable learning method for them.

RTI performs under the assumption that the educational system can be fruitful for all children. It relies on early intervention because spotting the problem before it gets out of control can immensely affect the results. Also, along the way inputs change- that is why progress monitoring is an indispensable step in the program. The periodic outputs are what decide the next step.

What is a Learning Disability?

A learning disability is a neurological disorder that compromises the brain’s abilities, including the ability to receive, to store, to process, or to respond to information. Accordingly, these disorders can negatively affect different areas of learning, such as reading, writing, spelling, and math. Depending on the severity of the problem, the RTI approach addresses the disability while maintaining the scope of the regular educational curriculum.

To classify a large number of students into groups based on needs, the response to intervention model is divided into 3 levels, also called “tiers.”

Response to Intervention Tiers

Response to Intervention Tiers

To implement RTI correctly, the 3 tiers must be applied thoroughly. The keyword here is classification: if a child receives more attention than they need, it might backfire. And if a student’s disability is not targeted accurately, the whole program wouldn’t be of much use. So identification is the most essential part.

Tier 1

All students are regularly screened to identify the ones with learning difficulties or those “at risk” of a learning disability. The assessment should pinpoint the weaknesses and strengths of each student. The children identified to need help are given supplemental instructions that go with their usual classroom routine. Progress is then monitored and each student’s growth is taken into account. Data is collected periodically and, with each report, a newer goal is set. The teacher implements the assigned interventions within the classroom normally. This level should take 8 weeks or less.

Tier 2

If the Tier 1 interventions are not effective enough, students are provided with more intensive and more engaging interventions, matching their needs and focusing on their weaknesses. The intensity of the program depends on Tier 1’s observations and outputs. The intervention in this level is more frequent (around 4 days a week) and lasts longer. The program can be implemented within the classroom or outside in small groups.

Students’ progress in this stage is also monitored to assure that the learning process is happening at an appropriate rate. Topics of concern in this tier are usually math and reading.

Tier 3

If a student’s results are not satisfactory after implementing Tier 2’s program, an even more intensive one-on-one program might be needed. The instructions in this tier are more individualized and explicit. The sessions are longer and more frequent and the topics are more in focus. The interventions don’t usually take place in the classroom. Sometimes, special education teachers are the ones in charge of delivering the instructions.

If the three tiers of response to intervention are not enhancing the child’s learning ability, then the child is referred for a comprehensive evaluation and is considered to potentially have a learning disability.

It is important to remember that the whole point of the response to intervention approach is for the specialists to identify the problem early on, and help the child overcome it. RTI doesn’t fix learning disabilities as much as it attempts to strengthen all the weakness points that might eventually lead to them. If a child is identified to have a learning disability through RTI, they would be eligible for special education, and that’s a different story.

Criticism of Response to Intervention

RTI is argued to be effective for prevention but not for determination of learning disabilities. Some people feel that due to the long periods of the 3-tiered program, help for a child with an actual learning disability might be delayed or denied altogether. There is also the issue of fidelity of implementation. Is the teacher carrying on the specialist’s instructions correctly? Since the results are merely based on the observations and inputs of the teacher, a huge responsibility falls on the education staff, and a problem of lack of commitment or low expertise might appear. Also the teacher might not have access to the needed material or might not be able to devote the required time to the process.

Regardless of the few drawbacks in the program, the different processes that the response to intervention program includes are useful all on their own. Student screening can do a lot more than classify children into groups for educational programs. Recognizing a child’s main points of strength and the areas where they fall short can help guide them throughout the whole course of their education, disability or not.

A child’s education is a core point in the process of bringing up healthy and successful individuals. Pay close attention to how your child handles their daily load of school work and always keep an open communication channel  with their teachers. Catching the problem early on will definitely save you and the child a lot of time, bad grades, and frustrations.

Learn more about response to intervention and connect with other families and teachers today!

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