Response to Intervention (RTI): The Saving Grace of Special Education
December 1, 2015
For years, special education has been bombarded with increased referrals of students for services, consistent behavior issues with identified students, and the lack of academic progress made by students with disabilities. The implementation of a multi-tiered intervention strategy, such as Response to Intervention (RTI), improves the quality of the referral process, decreases instances of behavior issues, and improves academic outcomes for students receiving special education services. In an effort to organize and implement delivery of social, behavioral, and academic ...view middle of the document...
In an effort to organize and implement delivery of social, behavioral, and academic supports, many schools have adopted a tiered Response to Intervention (RTI) framework. This structure is widely used for academic interventions prior to referral for special education and is being adopted for behavioral and social skills needs as well. RTI consists of three tiers of interventions where students are exposed to high quality, evidence-based instruction while educators monitor progress through instructional objectives. Tier 1 represents the universal, general education core curriculum. Estimates at Tier 1 are that approximately 80% to 90% of all learners are successful with high-quality core instruction. Tier 2 represents targeted interventions for at-risk students. It is estimated that approximately 15% to 20% of students are on this level and need targeted supplemental instruction. Tier 3 represents more intensive interventions for students exhibiting the greatest need. Studies estimate that about 1% to 5% of students will require intensive or special services through high-quality, intensive intervention (Hoover & Patton 2008). Tier 3 is usually mostly directed at students with more significant needs, including disability needs. Learners at risk, however, must also receive support and advocacy from special educators at Tiers 1 and 2. The job of the special education professional does not begin at referral, it starts long before the student gets to that stage.
The RTI process has improved the quality of special education referrals by decreasing the overall number of referrals received. This multi-tiered process is used for identification of students with disabilities and for early intervening for students who may not qualify for special education services. Educators have been unsatisfied with procedures and practices of determining eligibility for students with disabilities for years. RTI emerged as an alternative approach.
As a result of this process, top tier students receive more intense instruction in the form of more time, smaller groupings, or additional methods of teaching as teachers use the data gathered to make informed instructional decisions. Students who do not respond to more intense instruction may need special education services. Educators are using RTI to identify students in several disability categories. Multi-tiered learning provides students with a continuum of services that increase in intensity based on the severity of learner needs.
Students experiencing emotional, social, and behavioral issues benefit greatly from multi-tiered intervention systems such as RTI. School success is optimized when supportive environments are established to facilitate better social communication and social problem solving strategies (Albrecht & Mathur 2015). An emotionally and socially healthy school climate is important for promoting students’ academic achievement and social acceptance. A social climate that promotes social...