NYS Regulations define Response to Intervention (RtI) as a school district's process to determine if a student responds to scientific, research-based instruction. Effective July 1, 2012, all school districts in NYS must have an RtI program in place as part of its evaluation process to determine if a student in grades K-4 is a student with a learning disability in the area of reading. (NYSED, 2009)
The New York State Education Department has encouraged all school districts in the state (NYS) to take timely actions to implement RTI programs in its schools. At Schalmont, we initiated an RTI Steering Committee in September 2008 establishing a springboard for our upcoming RTI efforts. The committee thoroughly researched various RTI models, theories, and programs. During the 2009-2010 schoolyear, our RTI initiative will focus on strengthening our general education approaches, supports, and resources for students who are struggling.
RTI is primarily an instructional framework and philosophy, the goals and objectives of which include early intervention for students who struggle to attain or maintain grade level performance. It is an ongoing process of using student performance and other data to guide instructional and intervention decisions. Since there is great variability in individual response rates to instruction among children, carefully selecting and implementing scientifically-based instructional interventions increases the likelihood that a student will be the most successful at grade level. An additional bonus of the RTI model is that student strengths are also uncovered and can be utilized is peer tutoring situations.
RTI derives its name from the very practice of offering interventions provided by the general education teacher, such as additional instruction or small group instruction, and then systematically evaluating the child's response. Interventions can also be delivered as supplemental instruction provided by other trained interventionists within the school.
Successful implementation of RtI involves three important components: universal screening; multiple layers or "tiers" of instruction, intervention, and support; and progress monitoring (an integrated data collection and assessment system to inform decision making). Implementation of these core components of RtI can build upon existing practices and procedures.
Interventions are targeted instruction based on student need. They are designed to be coordinated with the curriculum provided in general education. Interventions are based on assessed student skill deficit, targeted to address specific and discrete skill deficits, intended to be short-term, explicit instruction, monitored frequently to document and ensure progress, and lastly, are revised as necessary based on student performance. In RtI, interventions are provided at three instructional levels: Tiers I, II, and III.
If a student continues to struggle despite targeted instruction at the Tier III level, he or she may be referred to the Committee on Special Education for an evaluation to determine if the student has a disability under IDEA. At this time, the documentation of RTI efforts becomes an important component of the evaluation. Should a student then qualify for special education services, he or she will then be eligible for the supports and accommodations provided to students with disabilities for purposes of leveling the academic playing field.