Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Response to Intervention: Helping Students Before They Fail

Response to Intervention (RTI) is an idea that has been gaining strength throughout the nation the last 5 to 7 years.  In education we have changed our thinking on how we teach and how children learn.  This has in return led to changes in educational law and practices.

In order to understand RTI we first need to know how it is defined.  According to IDEA "a local educational agency may use a process that determines if the child responds to scientific research-based intervention as a part of the evaluation process."  Tennessee's Department of Education regulations [300.307(a)(2)] dated August 2006 states "the State must permit the use of a process based on the child's response to scientific, research-based intervention to determine eligibility" for Special Education.  A phrase that is common in both definitions is "scientific, research-based intervention".  A child needs to work with a highly qualified person using a systematic process to diagnose what skills are missing in the skill set and then systematically teach the skills needed.  The systematic process must have research supporting it's efficacy.

Now that RTI is defined, let's talk about why RTI should be used.  There is a mistaken idea that RTI is the pathway to special education services for a student.  That idea simply supports that the student has failed in moving forward with skills and is significantly behind same-aged peers in gaining skills.  The reason for RTI is not to identify students for special education but instead help students as soon as possible to achieve at a proficient level.  The idea of RTI is not to wait for students to fail but instead help students as soon as they begin to struggle.

How is your district using RTI?  Is it a proactive process?  Or has it developed as a response to students failing?  Leave a comment below and let us know.

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