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Getting Started With ‘Response to Intervention’: A Guide for Schools Jim Wright January 2006 


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Title: Getting Started With ‘Response to Intervention’: A Guide for Schools Jim Wright January 2006 

Getting Started With Response to Intervention
A Guide for SchoolsJim Wrightwww.interventionce
ntral.orgJanuary 2006 
RTI Workshop Goals
  • As a result of this workshop, you will
  • Better understand the Response to Intervention
    (RTI) model
  • Know where to find resources on the Internet to
    start RTI in your school
  • Understand the next steps that your school should
    take to implement RTI

The quality of a school as a learning community
can be measured by how effectively it addresses
the needs of struggling students.--Wright
Discussion Read the quote below
Do you agree or disagree with this statement?
Source Wright, J. (2005, Summer). Five
interventions that work. NAESP Leadership
Compass, 2(4) pp.1,6.
What is Response to Intervention (RTI)?
  • 'Response to Intervention' is an emerging
    approach to the diagnosis of Learning
    Disabilities that holds considerable promise. In
    the RTI model
  • A student with academic delays is given one or
    more research-validated interventions.
  • The student's academic progress is monitored
    frequently to see if those interventions are
    sufficient to help the student to catch up with
    his or her peers.
  • If the student fails to show significantly
    improved academic skills despite several
    well-designed and implemented interventions, this
    failure to 'respond to intervention' can be
    viewed as evidence of an underlying Learning

What are advantages of RTI?
  • One advantage of RTI in the diagnosis of
    educational disabilities is that it allows
    schools to intervene early to meet the needs of
    struggling learners.
  • Another advantage is that RTI maps those specific
    instructional strategies found to benefit a
    particular student. This information can be very
    helpful to both teachers and parents.

What previous approach to diagnosing Learning
Disabilities does RTI replace?
  • Prior to RTI, many states used a Test-Score
    Discrepancy Model to identify Learning
  • A student with significant academic delays would
    be administered a battery of tests, including
    an intelligence test and academic achievement
  • If the student was found to have a substantial
    gap between a higher IQ score and lower
    achievement scores, a formula was used to
    determine if that gap was statistically
    significant and severe.
  • If the student had a severe discrepancy gap
    between IQ and achievement, he or she would be
    diagnosed with a Learning Disability.

Learning Disabilities Test Discrepancy Model
  • Traditionally, disability is viewed as a
    deficit that resides within the individual, the
    severity of which might be influenced, but not
    created, by contextual variables. (Vaughn
    Fuchs, 2003)

Limitations to the test-score discrepancy
model (Gresham, 2001)
  • Requires chronic school failure BEFORE
    remedial/special education supports can be
  • Fails to consider that outside factors such as
    poor or inconsistent instruction may contribute
    to a child's learning delay.
  • A severe discrepancy between test scores
    provides no useful information about WHY the
    student is doing poorly academically.
  • Different states (and even school districts
    within the same state) often used different
    formulas to diagnose LD, resulting in a lack of
    uniformity in identifying children for special
    education support.

Why is RTI now being adopted by schools?
  • Congress passed the revised Individuals With
    Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) in
  • This Federal legislation provides the guidelines
    that schools must follow when identifying
    children for special education services.
  • Based on the changes in IDEIA 2004, the US
    Department of Education (USDE) updated its
    regulations to state education departments. The
    new USDE regulations
  • Explicitly ALLOW states to use RTI to identify LD
  • FORBID states from forcing schools to use a
    discrepancy model to identify LD

IDEIA 2004-05 Federal (US Dept of Education)
Regulations What do they say about LD diagnosis?
  • 300.307 Specific learning disabilities.
  • (a) General. A State must adopt criteria for
    determining whether a child has a specific
    learning disability. the criteria adopted by
    the State
  • (2) May not require the use of a severe
    discrepancy between intellectual ability and
    achievement for determining whether a child has a
    specific learning disability as defined in
    300.8 Discrepancy Model
  • (3) Must permit the use of a process that
    determines if the child responds to scientific,
    research-based interventionRTI Model
  • NOTE bracketed comments added

Source IDEA (2004, 2005). Proposed Regulations
from US Department of Education ( 300.307)
What does RTI look like when applied to an
individual student?
  • A widely accepted method for determining whether
    a student has a Learning Disability under RTI is
    the dual discrepancy model (Fuchs, 2003).
  • Discrepancy 1 The student is found to be
    performing academically at a level significantly
    below that of his or her typical peers
    (discrepancy in initial skills or performance).
  • Discrepancy 2 Despite the implementation of one
    or more well-designed, well-implemented
    interventions tailored specifically for the
    student, he or she fails to close the gap with
    classmates (discrepancy in rate of learning
    relative to peers).

Dual-Discrepancy RTI Model of Learning
Disability (Fuchs 2003)
The steps of RTI for an individual case
  • Under RTI, if a student is found to be
    performing well below peers, the school will
  • Estimate the academic skill gap between the
    student and typically-performing peers
  • Determine the likely reason(s) for the students
    depressed academic performance
  • Select a scientifically-based intervention likely
    to improve the student's academic functioning
  • Monitor academic progress frequently to evaluate
    the impact of the intervention
  • If the student fails to respond to several
    well-implemented interventions, consider a
    referral to Special Education

Estimate the academic skill gap between the
target student and typically-performing peers
  • There are three general methods for estimating
    the typical level of academic performance at a
    grade level
  • Local Norms A sample of students at a school is
    screened in an academic skill to create grade
    norms (Shinn, 1989)
  • Research Norms Norms for typical growth are
    derived from a research sample, published, and
    applied by schools to their own student
    populations (e.g., Shapiro, 1996)
  • Criterion-Referenced Benchmarks A minimum level,
    or threshold, of competence is determined for a
    skill. The benchmark is usually defined as a
    level of proficiency needed for later school
    success (Fuchs, 2003)

Baylor Elementary School Grade Norms Correctly
Read Words Per Min Sample Size 23 Students
Group Norms Correctly Read Words Per Min Book
4-1 Raw Data
31 34 34 39 41 43 52 55 59 61 68 71
74 75 85 89 102 108 112 115 118 118 131
  • LOCAL NORMS EXAMPLE Twenty-three 4th-grade
    students were administered oral reading fluency
    Curriculum-Based Measurement passages at the
    4th-grade level in their school.
  • In their current number form, these data are not
    easy to interpret.
  • So the school converts them into a visual
    displaya box-plot to show the distribution of
    scores and to convert the scores to percentile
  • When Billy, a struggling reader, is screened in
    CBM reading fluency, he shows a SIGNIFICANT skill
    gap when compare to his grade peers.

Research Norms Example
Norms for typical growth are derived from a
research sample, published, and applied by
schools to their own student populations
Criterion-Referenced Benchmarks Example
  • The benchmark represents a level of proficiency
    needed for later school success. A good example
    of a commonly used set of benchmarks for reading
    are those that were developed for use with the
    DIBELS Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early
    Literacy Skills.
  • Using the DIBELS benchmarks, for example,
    3rd-grade students are at low risk for reading
    problems if they reach these reading-fluency
  • Start of School Year 77 Correctly Read Words
    Per Min
  • Middle of School Year 92 Correctly Read Words
    Per Min
  • End of School Year 110 Correctly Read Words Per

Determine the likely reason(s) for the students
depressed academic performance
  • There can be several possible underlying reasons
    why a student is doing poorly in an academic
    area. It is crucial to determine the reason(s)
    for poor performance in order to select an
    appropriate intervention
  • Skill Deficit The student lacks the necessary
    skills to perform the academic task.
  • Fragile Skills The student possesses the
    necessary skills but is not yet fluent and
    automatic in those skills.
  • Performance (Motivation) Deficit The student has
    the necessary skills but lacks the motivation to
    complete the academic task.

Select a scientifically-based intervention likely
to improve the student's academic functioning
  • Any intervention idea chosen for the student
    should be backed by scientific research (e.g.,
    research articles in peer-reviewed professional
    journals) demonstrating that the intervention is
    effective in addressing the students underlying
    reason(s) for academic failure.

Monitor academic progress frequently to evaluate
the impact of the intervention
  • Under RTI, interventions are monitored
    frequently (e.g., weekly) using valid and
    reliable measures that are sensitive to
    short-term gains in student performance
  • Measures for Basic Academic Skills
    Curriculum-Based Measurement (CBM) probes are
    short, timed assessments that have been developed
    to measure phonemic awareness, oral reading
    fluency, math computation, writing, and spelling
    skills (Shinn, 1989).
  • Measures for Classroom Academic and General
  • Daily Behavior Report Cards (DBRCs) These
    customized teacher rating forms allow the
    instructor to evaluate the students behaviors
    each day (Chafouleas et al. 2005).
  • Direct Observation An external observer visits
    the classroom to observe the students rates of
    on-task and academically engaged behaviors.
    (Shapiro, 1996)

If the student fails to respond to a series of
several well-implemented interventions, consider
a referral to Special Education.
  • In the RTI model, the student would be referred
    for a special education evaluation if
  • A series of research-based interventions have
    been attempted
  • There is documentation that the interventions
    were carried out as designed (treatment/interventi
    on integrity)
  • Progress-monitoring data shows that the student
    failed to meet the goal set for his or her
    improvement (that is, the student shows a
    discrepancy in rate of learning relative to

How can a school restructure to support RTI?
  • The school can organize its intervention efforts
    into 3 levels, or Tiers, that represent a
    continuum of increasing intensity of support.
    (Kovaleski, 2003 Vaughn, 2003). Tier I is the
    lowest level of intervention and Tier III is the
    most intensive intervention level.

Universal intervention Available to all
students Example Additional classroom literacy
Tier I
Individualized Intervention Students who need
additional support than peers are given
individual intervention plans. Example
Supplemental peer tutoring in reading to increase
reading fluency
Tier II
Intensive Intervention Students whose
intervention needs are greater than general
education can meet may be referred for more
intensive services. Example Special Education
Tier III
RTI School-Wide Three-Tier Framework
(Kovaleski, 2003 Vaughn, 2003)
Tier III Long-Term Programming for Students Who
Fail to Respond to Tier II Interventions (e.g.,
Special Education)
Putting The RTI Model into Practice 5
Recommended Next Steps for Schools
What do schools have to do differently under the
RTI model?
  • To implement RTI effectively, schools must
    develop a specialized set of tools and
    competencies, including
  • A structured format for problem-solving.
  • Knowledge of a range of scientifically based
    interventions that address common reasons for
    school failure.
  • The ability to use various methods of assessment
    to monitor student progress in academic and
    behavioral areas.

Implementing RTI Next Steps
  • Adopt evidence-based intervention strategies.
    Academic interventions will have a higher chance
    of success if they are based on sound empirical

Implementing RTI Next Steps
  • Web resources for evidence-based intervention
  • Big Ideas in Beginning Reading (U of
  • What Works Clearinghouse (US Dept of Education)
  • Intervention Central

Implementing RTI Next Steps
  • Train staff to collect frequent
    progress-monitoring data. Curriculum-based
    measurement (CBM) can be used to assess a
    students accuracy and speed in basic-skill areas
    such as reading fluency, math computation,
    writing, spelling, and pre-literacy skills.
    Teachers also can measure the behavior of
    struggling learners on a daily basis by using
    classroom Daily Behavior Report Cards simple,
    convenient rating forms to track a childs work
    completion, attention to task, compliance with
    teacher directions, and other behaviors that
    influence learning.

CBM Reading Fluency Probes Example
Examiner Copy
Student Copy
CBM Reading Fluency Monitoring Chart Example
Daily Behavior Report Card Example
Implementing RTI Next Steps
  • Web resources for progress-monitoring
  • CBM Warehouse
  • The Behavior Reporter (Behavior Report Card
    Generator) http//

Implementing RTI Next Steps
  • Develop building-level intervention programs to
    address common academic concerns. When faced with
    large numbers of students with shared academic
    concerns (e.g., reading fluency), schools can
    create a building-level intervention program to
    meet this need. For example, older children could
    tutor younger students by using simple,
    research-based techniques to boost their tutees
    reading fluency (Wright Cleary, 2006).

Kids as Reading Helpers A Peer Tutor Training
Implementing RTI Next Steps
  • Web resource for a building-level intervention
    program peer-tutoring/reading fluency
  • Kids as Reading Helpers Peer Tutoring

Implementing RTI Next Steps
  • Establish a building intervention team. Made up
    of teachers and support staff, the intervention
    team can help referring teachers design feasible
    strategies for struggling students.
    Intervention teams also foster a sense of
    collegiality and mutual support among educators,
    promote the use of evidence-based interventions,
    and assist busy teachers in carrying out
    intervention plans.

School-Based Intervention Teams QuickGuide
SBIT QuickGuide Other Training Materials/Forms
Available for Free Download
Sample Intervention Team Model SBIT Consultative
  • Step 1 Assess Teacher Concerns
  • Step 2 Inventory Student Strengths and Talents
  • Step 3 Review Background/Baseline Data
  • Step 4 Select Target Teacher Concerns
  • Step 5 Set Academic or Behavioral Goals
  • Step 6 Design an Intervention Plan
  • Step 7 Select Method for Progress Monitoring
  • Step 8 Plan How to Share Information with the
    Students Parent(s)
  • Step 9 Review the Intervention and Monitoring

Implementing RTI Next Steps
  • Web resources on building intervention teams
  • School-Based Intervention Teams (Syracuse City
  • Screening to Enhance Educational Performance
    STEEP (Joe Witt, Ph.D.)http//
  • Instructional Consultation Teams (Sylvia
    Rosenfield, Ph.D.)http//

Implementing RTI Next Steps
  • Align Current Intervention Assessment Efforts
    With 3-Tier Model. Many schools already have
    intervention assessment initiatives in place.
    Mapping out those initiatives, standardizing
    their content, and tying them to the appropriate
    level of the 3-tier intervention framework can
    help schools to better coordinate intervention
    programming while avoiding duplication of

Tier I
Inventory all universal programs in the school
intended to prevent student academic or
behavioral failure
Inventory programs or supports (e.g.,
Intervention Team, cross-age peer tutoring, Math
or Reading Remedial Lab) that can be
individualized and matched to students with
emerging academic or behavioral difficulties
Tier II
Inventory the most intensive programs (e.g.,
Special Education services, Wrap-Around Teams,
Individual Counseling) reserved for students with
severe and chronic academic or behavioral
problems that have not responded to Tier I or
Tier II supports
Tier III
Participant Activity Take the RTI Readiness
  • Form into pairs or small groups.
  • Together, complete the RTI Readiness Survey.
  • When finished, discuss your results and address
    these questions
  • What areas of strength did you identify?
  • What areas did you identify that need work?
  • What would be your groups top three priorities
    in starting the RTI model in this school?

RTI Readiness Survey available at
For a comprehensive directory of up-to-date RTI
Resources available for free on the Internet,
visit RTI_Wire athttp//
  • Chafouleas, S.M., McDougal, J.L., Riley-Tillman,
    T.C., Panahon, C.J., Hilt, A.M. (2005).  What
    do Daily Behavior Report Cards (DBRCs) measure?
    An initial comparison of DBRCs with direct
    observation for off-task behavior.  Psychology in
    the Schools, 42(6), 669-676.
  • Fuchs, L. (2003). Assessing intervention
    responsiveness Conceptual and technical issues.
    Learning Disabilities Research Practice, 18(3),
  • Gresham, F. (2001). Responsiveness to
    Intervention an Alternative Approach to the
    Identification of Learning Disabilities.
    Retrieved January 9, 2006, from
    Final 08-10-01.doc
  • Individuals with Disabilities Education
    Improvement Act, P.L. 108-466 (2004, 2005). 34
    C.F.R. 300 (Proposed Regulations). Retrieved
    January 15, 2006, from http//

  • Kovaleski, J. F. (2003). The three-tier model of
    identifying learning disabilities Critical
    program features and system issues. Paper
    presented at the National Research Center on
    Learning Disabilities Responsiveness-to-Interventi
    on Symposium, Kansas City, MO.
  • Shapiro, E. S. (1996). Academic skills problems
    Direct assessment and intervention (2nd ed.). New
    York Guilford.
  • Shinn, M. R. (1989). Identifying and defining
    academic problems CBM screening and eligibility
    procedures. In M. R. Shinn (Ed.), Curriculum
    based measurement Assessing special children
    (pp.90-129). New York The Guilford Press.
  • Wright, J. (2005, Summer). Five interventions
    that work. NAESP National Association of
    Elementary School Principals Leadership Compass,
    2(4) pp.1,6.
  • Wright, J., Cleary, K. S. (2006). Kids in the
    tutor seat Building schools' capacity to help
    struggling readers through a cross-age
    peer-tutoring program. Psychology in the Schools,
    43(1), 99-107.