Sunday, November 15, 2009

All Hands On Deck: Response to Intervention

Response to Intervention (RTI) is a problem solving process to assure success for struggling students. It is not a gateway to special education (nor a delay to special ed) and it is not a quick fix.

You’ll often hear us use the expression, “all kids, all schools, all hands on deck.” Following our Response to Intervention (RTI) professional learning session, I asked colleagues to help me create a recap. Here’s a compilation of what “all hands” have so say about RTI, plus helpful RTI links. 

What do teachers have to say?
RTI is a process teachers should use to help struggling students be successful in their classroom. It’s probably something teachers are already doing. But I think teachers need to do a better job of documenting the strategies that are in place for students and then collecting data over time to check and see if these strategies are helping the students be successful in the classroom. ~ Todd M, grade 8 Algebra teacher

RTI is something that most of us do most of the time, but in an unstructured, undocumented way. We do it for short term intervention and longer term intervention. In possible Special Ed cases, we need to make sure we have the documentation. In other cases, we need to make sure that the rigors of documentation don't cause teachers to avoid doing what they would normally do. ~ Ceil K, IB math teacher

RTI is a continuous process of pre-assessments, proper student placements into appropriate intervention groups, weekly progress monitoring to ensure that the intervention is working, followed by a post-assessment to document student progress backed with data. ~ Aarty S, ESL assistant

RTI is a multi-layered approach to get to the new/modern idea/ideal that all kids can learn at high levels. It’s a way of getting schools to move beyond the archaic idea that school is meant to be a "sorting" place. So, RTI is a real series of techniques to make this happen, but it's not a path to special education. It's sort of like scaffolding a whole-school response of what to do when kids hit a road block. ~ Angie F, freshman English teacher

How long does RTI take?
It’s a process without a specific time frame.  It’s okay for a student to have tiered supports in place throughout their schooling to help them be successful. ~ Julie C, work study coordinator

Why have we chosen this approach, K-12?
RTI allows us to focus our collective resources toward early intervention and toward providing appropriate help and supports that prevent academic and behavioral concerns from becoming bigger issues. Amy S, school psychologist

Most important to remember: We are all learners in this process. And we’re all in this together.

Here are some resources to help us as we learn. What resources or ideas do you have to share?


West Clermont’s RTI links
West Clermont's RTI Plan
National Center on RTI

Pyramid Respond to Intervention: RTI, PLCs, and How to Respond When Kids Don’t Learn
Raising the Bar and Closing the Gap

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons


  1. The most important thing with RtI is for teachers to take ownership of providing the different tiers of interventions. Classroom interventions with the regular education teacher can and should occur at tiers 1, 2, and 3. In my experience, many teachers are still looking for outside support (including special education) to provide these interventions to struggling learners. It is easier to "pass them along" than to deliver a specific intervention in the regular classroom setting. Yes, it is a lot of planning and a lot of work, but it must be done if we are going to help our struggling learners! Another pitfall I see that comes with a lack of understanding of the RtI framework is that children are labeled as "tier 2" or "tier 3" students. STUDENTS are not tiered- INTERVENTIONS are tiered. A student may be successful with the core instruction delivered in tier 1 in reading, but needs tier 2 interventions in order to help master a specific math skill. I think the resources you posted are excellent!

  2. Great point! "STUDENTS are not tiered. INTERVENTIONS are tiered." Interesting conversation today with Angie (high school teacher quoted in the post) about the natural marriage of RTI with professional learning communities. It's all about generating conversations around respond to instruction. We are still learning, but committed to this work.