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Title: Response to Intervention: A Guide for Schools Jim Wright

Response to Intervention A Guide for
Download PowerPoints and Handouts from this
workshop athttp//
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.
Essential Elements of RTI (Fairbanks, Sugai,
Guardino, Lathrop, 2007)
  1. A continuum of evidence-based services available
    to all students" that range from universal to
    highly individualized intensive
  2. Decision points to determine if students are
    performing significantly below the level of their
    peers in academic and social behavior domains"
  3. Ongoing monitoring of student progress"
  4. Employment of more intensive or different
    interventions when students do not improve in
    response" to lesser interventions
  5. Evaluation for special education services if
    students do not respond to intervention

Source Fairbanks, S., Sugai, G., Guardino, S.,
Lathrop, M. (2007). Response to intervention
Examining classroom behavior support in second
grade. Exceptional Children, 73, p. 289.
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.

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?
In 2004, Congress reauthorized the Individuals
With Disabilities Education Improvement Act
(IDEIA 2004), including landmark language in that
law to encourage schools to break free of their
reliance on the discredited IQ-Achievement
Discrepancy method for identifying Learning
Disabilities. The U.S. Department of Education
then developed regulations based on IDEIA 2004 to
guide state practices. These regulations (34
C.F.R. 300 301, 2006) direct that states cannot
require the use of a severe discrepancy between
intellectual ability and achievement for
determining whether a child has a specific
learning disability Discrepancy
ModelFurthermore, states must permit the use
of a process based on the childs response to
scientific, research-based intervention (34
C.F.R. 300 301, 2006 p. 46786). RTI Model
IDEIA 2004-05 Federal (US Dept of Education)
Regulations What do they say about LD diagnosis?
  • The federal regulations also require that
    schools ensure that underachievement in a child
    suspected of having a specific learning
    disability is not due to lack of appropriate
    instruction (34 C.F.R. 300 301, 2006 p.
    46787) by
  • demonstrating that the child was provided
    appropriate instruction in regular education
    settings, delivered by qualified personnel and
  • collecting data-based documentation of repeated
    assessments of achievement at reasonable
    intervals, reflecting formal assessment of
    student progress during instruction.

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).

Target Student
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

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
Tier I Interventions
Tier I interventions are universalavailable to
all students. Teachers often deliver these
interventions in the classroom (e.g., providing
additional drill and practice in reading fluency
for students with limited decoding skills).
Tier I interventions are those strategies that
instructors are likely to put into place at the
first sign that a student is struggling. Tier I
interventions attempt to answer the question Are
routine classroom instructional modifications
sufficient to help the student to achieve
academic success?
Key Questions About Implementing Classroom
Tier II Interventions
Tier II interventions are individualized,
tailored to the unique needs of struggling
learners. They are reserved for students with
significant skill gaps who have failed to respond
successfully to Tier I strategies. Tier II
interventions attempt to answer the question Can
an individualized intervention plan carried out
in a general-education setting bring the student
up to the academic level of his or her peers?
Tier II Interventions
There are two different vehicles that schools can
use to deliver Tier II interventions Problem-solv
ing (Classroom-Based Intervention).
Individualized research-based interventions match
the profile of a particular students strengths
and limitations. The classroom teacher often has
a large role in carrying out these interventions.
A plus of the problem-solving approach is that
the intervention can be customized to the
students needs. However, developing intervention
plans for individual students can be
time-consuming.Standard-Protocol (Standalone
Intervention). Group intervention programs based
on scientifically valid instructional practices
(standard protocol) are created to address
frequent student referral concerns. These
services are provided outside of the classroom. A
middle school, for example, may set up a
structured math-tutoring program staffed by adult
volunteer tutors to provide assistance to
students with limited math skills. Students
referred for a Tier II math intervention would be
placed in this tutoring program. An advantage of
the standard-protocol approach is that it is
efficient and consistent large numbers of
students can be put into these group
interventions to receive a highly standardized
intervention. However, standard group
intervention protocols often cannot be
individualized easily to accommodate a specific
students unique needs.
Tier III Interventions
Tier III interventions are the most intensive
academic supports available in a school and are
generally reserved for students with chronic and
severe academic delays or behavioral problems.
In many schools, Tier III interventions are
available only through special education. Tier
III supports try to answer the question, What
ongoing supports does this student require and in
what settings to achieve the greatest success
Levels of Intervention Tier I, II, III
Tier I Universal100
Tier II Individualized10-15
Tier III Intensive5-10
Secondary Students Unique Challenges
  • Struggling learners in middle and high school
  • Have significant deficits in basic academic
  • Lack higher-level problem-solving strategies and
  • Present with issues of school motivation
  • Show social/emotional concerns that interfere
    with academics
  • Have difficulty with attendance
  • Students at the secondary level are also
    moving toward being self-managing learners

RTI Were in Dragon Country Now!Jim
Hic sunt dracones. Latin for Here be
dragons Phrase appearing on the Lenox Globe
circa 1503, denoting unknown dangers on the
unexplored east coast of Asia. This term now is
used to describe any instance in which
decision-making or action is difficult because
the situation is so complex or because so many
variables are unknown. Source Wikipedia
Two Ways to Solve Problems Algorithm vs.
  • Algorithm. An explicit step-by-step procedure for
    producing a solution to a given problem. Example
    Multiplying 6 x 2
  • Heuristic. A rule of thumb or approach which may
    help in solving a problem, but is not guaranteed
    to find a solution. Heuristics are exploratory in
    nature. Example Using a map to find an
    appropriate route to a location.

As Knowledge Base Grows, Heuristic Approaches
(Exploratory, Open-Ended Guidelines to Solving a
Problem) Can Sometimes Turn into Algorithms
(Fixed Rules for Solving a Problem )Example
Recipes Through History
(9 inch) unbaked pie crusts 1/2 cup blanched
almonds 1 1/4 cups cold water 1
cup half-and-half cream 1 pinch saffron powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 5 eggs
3/4 cup white
sugar 1 teaspoon rose water DIRECTIONS Preheat
the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Press
pie crusts into the bottom and up the sides of
two 9 inch pie pans. Prick with a fork all over
to keep them from bubbling up. Bake pie crusts
for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until
set but not browned. Set aside to cool. Make an
almond milk by placing almonds in the container
of a food processor. Process until finely ground,
then add water, and pulse just to blend. Let the
mixture sit for 10 minutes, then strain through a
cheesecloth. Measure out 1 cup of the almond
milk, and mix with half and half. Stir in the
saffron and cinnamon, and set aside. Place the
eggs and sugar in a saucepan, and mix until well
blended. Place the pan over low heat, and
gradually stir in the almond milk mixture and
cinnamon. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly
until the mixture begins to thicken. When the
mixture is thick enough to evenly coat the back
of a metal spoon, stir in rose water and remove
from heat. Pour into the cooled pie shells. Bake
for 40 minutes in the preheated oven, or until
the center is set, but the top is not browned.
Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until
(HEURISTIC)Take cream of cow milk, or of
almonds do there-to eggs with sugar, saffron and
salt. Mix it fair. Do it in a pie shell of 2 inch
deep bake it well and serve it forth.
RTI is a Work in Progress Some Areas Can Be
Managed Like an Algorithm While Others Require a
Heuristic Approch
  • Reading Fluency. Can be approached as a fixed
  • DIBELS allows universal screening and
  • DIBELS benchmarks give indication of student risk
  • Classroom-friendly research-based fluency
    building interventions have been validated
  • Study Skills. A complex set of skills whose
    problem-solving approach resembles a heuristic.
  • Students basic set of study skills must be
  • The intervention selected will be highly
    dependent on the hypothesized reason(s) for the
    students study difficulties
  • The quality of the research on study-skills
    interventions varies and is still in development

What Are 5 dragon regions of RTI?
Implementing Response to Intervention in Schools
Key Challenges to Changing a SystemJim
Making RTI Work in Your Schools Key Expectations
Making RTI Work in Your Schools Key Expectations
  • Teachers try a larger number of research-based
    classroom strategies before referring a student
    to the schools RTI Team.
  • Schools are able to find time and personnel
    coverage to schedule RTI Team meetings.
  • The job descriptions of key people in a school
    change to match the needs of RTI (e.g., school
    psychologist, special education teacher).
  • The school recognizes that RTI is an umbrella
    problemsolving approach that helps the district
    to address a range of important school issues
    such as low state test scores, deficient academic
    skills, absenteeism, and drop-outs.

Making RTI Work in Your Schools Key Expectations
  • Administrators show strong support for RTI, using
    their influence to encourage teacher
    follow-through with classroom interventions,
    helping to rework job descriptions to match
    RTIs needs, etc.
  • RTI is accepted by the school community as a
    mainstream initiative, with the majority of
    representatives on the RTI Steering Group drawn
    from general education (e.g., Curriculum
  • RTI is given the resources that it needs to grow,
    including funds for staff development and for the
    purchase of assessment services or products and
    intervention materials.
  • The district has a multi-year plan to implement
    RTI that builds the model at an ambitious but
    sustainable rate.

Preventing Your School from Developing RTI
  • Schools can anticipate and take steps to address
    challenges to RTI implementation
  • This proactive stance toward RTI adoption will
    reduce the probability that the host school or
    district will reject RTI as a model

Innovations in Education Efficacy vs.
  • A useful distinction has recently emerged
    between efficacy and effectiveness (Schoenwald
    Hoagwood, 2001). Efficacy refers to intervention
    outcomes that are produced by researchers and
    program developers under ideal conditions of
    implementation (i.e., adequate resources, close
    supervision ). In contrast, effectiveness refers
    to demonstration(s) of socially valid outcomes
    under normal conditions of usage in the target
    setting(s) for which the intervention was
    developed. Demonstrations of effectiveness are
    far more difficult than demonstrations of
    efficacy. In fact, numerous promising
    interventions and approaches fail to bridge the
    gap between efficacy and effectiveness.
    Emphasis added

Source Walker, H. M. (2004). Use of
evidence-based interventions in schools Where
we've been, where we are, and where we need to
go. School Psychology Review, 33, 398-407. p. 400
Role of School Culture in the Acceptability of
  • school staffs are interested in
    strategies that fit a group instructional and
    management template intensive strategies
    required by at-risk and poorly motivated students
    are often viewed as cost ineffective. Treatments
    and interventions that do not address the primary
    mission of schooling are seen as a poor match to
    school priorities and are likely to be rejected.
    Thus, intervention and management approaches that
    are universal in nature and that involve a
    standard dosage that is easy to deliver (e.g.,
    classwide social skills training) have a higher
    likelihood of making it into routine or standard
    school practice.

Source Walker, H. M. (2004). Use of
evidence-based interventions in schools Where
we've been, where we are, and where we need to
go. School Psychology Review, 33, 398-407. pp.
Barriers in Schools to Innovations in
  • Factors that have been identified as
    barriers to acceptance and implementation by
    educators of effective behavioral interventions
    for at at-risk students include characteristics
    of the host organization, practitioner behavior,
    costs, lack of program readiness, the absence of
    program champions and advocates within the host
    organization, philosophical objections, lack of
    fit between the program's key features and
    organizational routines and operations, and weak
    staff participation.

Source Walker, H. M. (2004). Use of
evidence-based interventions in schools Where
we've been, where we are, and where we need to
go. School Psychology Review, 33, 398-407. p. 400
Establishing RTI in Your School or District
First Steps
RTI Can Serve as the Organizing Umbrella Under
Which a Districts Efforts Are Organized to
Support Struggling Learners of Any Age
Establishing RTI in Your School or District
First Steps
  1. Establish an RTI Steering Group

Establishing RTI in Your School or District
First Steps
  1. Educate Staff and Other Stakeholders to Build
    Support for RTI

Establishing RTI in Your School or District
First Steps
  1. Create an Inventory of the District/Schools RTI

Establishing RTI in Your School or District
First Steps
  1. Establish an RTI Intervention Team

Establishing RTI in Your School or District
First Steps
  1. Train Staff in Techniques to Monitor Short-Term
    Student Academic and Behavioral Progress

Measuring the Intervention Footprint Issues of
Planning, Documentation, Follow-ThroughJim
Essential Elements of Any Academic or Behavioral
Intervention (Treatment) Strategy
  • Method of delivery (Who or what delivers the
    treatment?)Examples include teachers,
    paraprofessionals, parents, volunteers,
  • Treatment component (What makes the intervention
    effective?)Examples include activation of prior
    knowledge to help the student to make meaningful
    connections between known and new material
    guide practice (e.g., Paired Reading) to increase
    reading fluency periodic review of material to
    aid student retention. As an example of a
    research-based commercial program, Read Naturally
    combines teacher modeling, repeated reading and
    progress monitoring to remediate fluency

Interventions, Accommodations Modifications
Sorting Them Out
  • Interventions. An academic intervention is a
    strategy used to teach a new skill, build fluency
    in a skill, or encourage a child to apply an
    existing skill to new situations or settings.
    An intervention is said to be research-based
    when it has been demonstrated to be effective in
    one or more articles published in peerreviewed
    scientific journals. Interventions might be based
    on commercial programs such as Read Naturally.
    The school may also develop and implement an
    intervention that is based on guidelines provided
    in research articlessuch as Paired Reading
    (Topping, 1987).

Interventions, Accommodations Modifications
Sorting Them Out
  • Accommodations. An accommodation is intended to
    help the student to fully access the
    general-education curriculum without changing the
    instructional content. An accommodation for
    students who are slow readers, for example, may
    include having them supplement their silent
    reading of a novel by listening to the book on
    tape. An accommodation is intended to remove
    barriers to learning while still expecting that
    students will master the same instructional
    content as their typical peers. Informal
    accommodations may be used at the classroom level
    or be incorporated into a more intensive,
    individualized intervention plan.

Interventions, Accommodations Modifications
Sorting Them Out
  • Modifications. A modification changes the
    expectations of what a student is expected to
    know or dotypically by lowering the academic
    expectations against which the student is to be
    evaluated. Examples of modifications are
    reducing the number of multiple-choice items in a
    test from five to four or shortening a spelling
    list. Under RTI, modifications are generally not
    included in a students intervention plan,
    because the working assumption is that the
    student can be successful in the curriculum with
    appropriate interventions and accommodations

Evaluating the Quality of Intervention Research
The Research Continuum
Intervention Research Continuum
  • Evidence-Based Practices
  • Includes practices for which original data have
    been collected to determine the effectiveness of
    the practice for students with disabilities. The
    research utilizes scientifically based rigorous
    research designs (i.e., randomized controlled
    trials, regression discontinuity designs,
    quasi-experiments, single subject, and
    qualitative research).

Source The Access Center Research Continuum
(n.d.). Retrieved on June 1, 2008 from
Intervention Research Continuum
  • Promising Practices
  • Includes practices that were developed based on
    theory or research, but for which an insufficient
    amount of original data have been collected to
    determine the effectiveness of the practices.
    Practices in this category may have been studied,
    but not using the most rigorous study designs.

Source The Access Center Research Continuum
(n.d.). Retrieved on June 1, 2008 from
Intervention Research Continuum
  • Emerging Practices
  • Includes practices that are not based on
    research or theory and on which original data
    have not been collected, but for which anecdotal
    evidence and professional wisdom exists. These
    include practices that practitioners have tried
    and feel are effective and new practices or
    programs that have not yet been researched.

Source The Access Center Research Continuum
(n.d.). Retrieved on June 1, 2008 from
How Do We Define a Tier I (Classroom-Based)
Intervention?Jim Wrightwww.interventioncentral
Tier I Interventions
Tier I interventions are universalavailable to
all students. Teachers often deliver these
interventions in the classroom.Tier I
interventions are those strategies that
instructors are likely to put into place at the
first sign that a student is struggling. These
interventions can consist of -Effective
whole-group teaching management
strategies -Modest individualized strategies that
the teacher uses with specific students. Tier I
interventions attempt to answer the question Are
routine classroom instructional supports and
strategies sufficient to help the student to
achieve academic success?
Tier I Ideas to Help Students to Complete
Independent Seatwork
Independent Seatwork A Source of Misbehavior
  • When poorly achieving students must work
    independently, they can run into difficulties
    with the potential to spiral into misbehaviors.
    These difficulties can include
  • Being unable to do the assigned work without help
  • Not understanding the directions for the
  • Getting stuck during the assignment and not
    knowing how to resolve the problem
  • Being reluctant to ask for help in a public
  • Lacking motivation to work independently on the

Elements to Support Independent Seatwork
Discussion Question
Why would a teacher at your school be very happy
to see an RTI model adopted? What is in it for
him or her?
Common Student Problems What Works?
How Do Schools Standardize Expectations for
Tier I Interventions? A Four-Step Solution
  1. Develop a list of your schools top five
    academic and behavioral referral concerns (e.g.,
    low reading fluency, inattention).
  2. Create a survey for teachers, asking them to jot
    down the good teaching ideas that they use
    independently when they encounter students who
    struggle in these problem areas.
  3. Collect the best of these ideas into a menu. Add
    additional research-based ideas if available.
  4. Require that teachers implement a certain number
    of these strategies before referring to your RTI
    Intervention Team. Consider ways that teachers
    can document these Tier I interventions as well.