Response to Intervention is the additional option for determining student eligibility for special education in the case of supposed learning disabilities that forces “varying levels of support in general education before a referral to special education is made.” (Exceptional Learners). As part of an evaluation, states may rely on a process that determines whether the child responds to scientific, research-based interventions. RTI refers to a student’s change in academic performance or behavior (this can include lack of change as well) as a result of instruction that has been scientifically proven and research-based. RTI does not have to for academic instruction, it can be utilized for behavior and social development as well.
There are three tiers of the RTI model, with the first tier taking place in the general education setting. In tier 1 all students are screened to identify students who are at-risk for academic failure. All students in the tier 1 general education setting receive excellent, research-based instruction. Those students who are labeled “at-risk” through the universal screening will receive weekly progress monitoring. The at-risk students will be screened in the fall, winter, and spring to ensure that adequate progress has been made. For behavior management clearly established policies, procedures and incentive systems must be in place and enforced in the classroom setting during tier 1. Teachers must create a hierarchical system of consequences that must be enforced when a student exhibits negative behavior. Teachers must also offer positive reinforcement and encouragement for positive student behavior (e.g., praise, positive phone calls made regularly, classroom coupons, school-wide recognition, reward programs, etc.) During tier 1 teachers monitor the at-risk students progress in the curriculum in relation to their peers and offers differentiated instruction.
If the student’s academic, behavioral or social performance does not improve, the at-risk student moves to tier 2. During this stage of the RTI model students receive small-group instruction from a teacher or trained assistant up to four times per week. This is done through a research-validated program in the areas of difficulty, such as math or English Language Arts. For behavior management Tier 2 is considered the target, short-term (observations, Functional Behavioral Assessments FBAs) behavior plans. Students who are in tier 2 should only be receiving these interventions for approximately six to eight weeks. The intensity of instruction is increased in frequency and duration than it is in tier 1. The frequency of regular progress monitoring also increases in tier 2. If the at-risk student is responsive to tier 2 interventions, the student will return to tier 1. If the student is unresponsive to tier 2 interventions, a multidisciplinary team conveys to determine whether a student has a disability and qualifies for special education and the third tier of RTI. The multidisciplinary team convenes and develops an individualized education program (IEP) for the at-risk student. Tier 3 contains more intensive interventions provided by a special educator in an appropriate placement which is determined by the student’s individualized education program (IEP). Placement for service delivery and the at-risk student’s specific interventions are based on the IEP. The multidisciplinary team will reconvene if the student is responsive to tier 3 intervention and the team will determine the student’s best placement (tier 2 of 1).