Thursday, February 4, 2010

What's this about RtI?

Many of you have probably already run into this Response to Intervention and may wonder what it is. RtI was first suggested in IDEA 2004 for students with SLD. I believe that the idea was to allow children who do not meet the discrepancy model (gap between IQ and achievement), to still access special education if they truly need it to progess. Basically the school uses general education interventions, keeping data in order to determine if these interventions help the child succeed. The child is moved up three progressive tiers until the child is either successful (in which case the child does not require special education) or remains unsuccessful (in which case the child does require special education).
I will begin our discussion with an observation that instead of opening the special education door wider I fear that the immediate effect of RtI is to close the door on many eligible children. Also it often seems to be used to delay the recognition of disabilities and the provision of services.
There are some very positive aspects of RtI that we can talk about, but I think that the above is a good place for us to start our conversation. Write to add your thoughts and ask your questions.


  1. Unfortunately, what I am seeing is that schools either misunderstand or misinterpret RTI. First, they tell parents that they are "required" to to RTI before and evaluation, which is just not true. Second, they are interpreting RTI as applying to ALL disabilities, not just learning disabilities. You are correct, in that RTI is being used to close the door on students who are in true need of an evaluation to determine eligibility for IDEA services.

    Stan Goldsberg and I did an entire podcast on RTI, the good and the bad. You can locate this podcast at Stan's website:

    What are the experiences of others with regard to RTI? Is this just happening in Indiana?

    Pat Howey, Advocate from Indiana

  2. I am actually a proponent of RTI and believe that, as parents and advocates we need to make the process work the way it was intended. Regarding eligibility, in Florida parents may request evaluations despite the fact that RtI is proceeding and Districts are required to do the evaluations concurrently with the RTI process. At the end of the 60 school day deadline the team determining eligibility should have both evaluations and data from RTI to guide the eligbility determination and development of an IEP. Evaluation data is good data but so is data derived from what is going on in the classroom regarding what is or is not working educationally for the child. Too often we get an IEP but the child still doesn't get a quality education. For more information on this issue please see the Technical Assitance Paper on SLD Elibigility at the Florida Department of Education website. The other reason that I like RTI is I think it is the key to getting good reading and math programs for kids. We need to drive RTI and use RTI derived data to show that some of the programs used by schools aren't working and then advocate for a better educational program.

  3. I am glad that Claudia has posted on this subject. It is possible to proactively make RtI work for us. At the beginning of the process we must make sure that effective data collections processes are established, with clear criteria for intervention success and failure. It is not enought that the child has made "some" progress. The child needs to have made sufficient progress to be successful in the grade and level of his/her class. It is entirely appropriate to us formal evaluative instruments in order to determine the child's baseline and progress from that baseline.

  4. An observation from a special needs parent and a regular ed. kindergarten teacher...had RTI been used when it was first introduced it may have helped my daughter by giving her much needed programs and assistance. These interventions would have made all the non-essential opinions and useless trials irrelevant.

    As a educator, RTI (at least in kinder) is killing us. We get kiddos who have never seen a doctor in their life, have all sorts of issues and nothing can be done until the RTI process has been completed. With 2 1/2 weeks of school left, the 2 little guys I considered 'extreme' are still 'extreme' and their issues have impacted all of the learning and teaching done in our classroom. Too many days where no teaching was able to occur and far too many days when no one was learning. Then on top of that to be told it is due to my classroom management is just defeating.

  5. Our District is one that requires RtI before comprehensive evaluations.
    Administrator and School Psychs are using this as a means to not identify.
    RtI in its purest form is a great program, but not when it is used as a diversion to Sped. When ever a student in middle or high school is in crisis and failing the middle school and high school pull RtI out of their hat and tell parents this needs to be done first. Problem is there is no RtI at the Middle School and HIgh School levels in our town. Making it up as they go along. I am so tired of it!

  6. RTI is driving me nuts and totally confusing me - and I spent years as an ese teacher in this state! My son's school is using the RTI argument and the "he's not the worst in his class" argument. (Also "he doesn't need academic goals" what???!!!) We argued in the fall if he will be eligible for an SLD label when he ages out of DD in May. I'm getting ready to request an interim IEP to see what their thoughts are at this point so I'm not blindsided in May. How is RTI determined to be effective or not? If I hear "he's not the worst in the class" one more time I may scream. I'm considering dropping the SLD argument because of the school hiding behind RTI and trying an OHI angle, I may have better luck. Very frustrating process :(