Read Naturally and Response to Intervention (RTI)
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Schools across the country are adopting a new way of serving students using a process called Response to Intervention (RTI). Based on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) of 2004, RTI is gaining acceptance as an effective collaboration between special education and general education.
The RTI process is a multi-tiered approach to providing services and interventions to struggling learners at increasing levels of intensity. High-quality instructional materials, appropriate intervention materials and strategies, well-trained staff, and assessment-driven decision-making are critical components of an RTI model.
A Multi-Tiered Model
Most RTI models develop a tiered model system of service delivery. All students receive standards-based comprehensive reading instruction in Tier 1. Students whose progress monitoring indicates a need for strategic supplementary instruction receive extra instruction in Tier 2 or 3. A few students—whose skills are far behind their peers—may, at times, need to receive only specialized intervention, but for the shortest amount of time with the goal of returning to Tier 1 as soon as possible.
Tier 1: Low Risk
Students who are determined to be proficient on screening and benchmark assessments receive instruction in the research-based core curriculum in the regular classroom. Students are assessed on an initial screening at the beginning of the year and again in winter and spring to ensure that they continue to perform at benchmark levels. Students in Tier 1 may receive extra instruction to focus on specific skills.
Tier 2: Some Risk
These students need regular supplemental or strategic instruction to support their learning and raise their achievement to proficiency in the core curriculum. Students in Tier 2 are part of general—not special—education. Small groups focus on the particular components of reading in which these students are deficient. This instruction may consist of increasing the time and intensity of the students' exposure to the core curriculum and its intervention support materials. Other research-based supplementary materials may be used. Students served at this level are assessed regularly using progress monitoring assessments.
Tier 3: At Risk
A small group of students will require intensive instruction. These students are not able to make sufficient progress with Tier 2 support. Remedial materials, methods, and practices may be used which, although research-based and aligned with the content of the core curriculum, are not necessarily a part of the core curriculum. Students served in Tier 3 are assessed more frequently using progress monitoring assessments. Tier 3 services may include general education students as well as students who are identified as eligible for special education or related services.
Seamless Collaboration Between Regular and Special Education
Students receive instruction in Tier 2 or 3 only for a specified period of time (e.g., instructional cycles of 10 to 15 weeks) before being reevaluated. Progress monitoring continues during the cycle to regularly evaluate the short-term progress of students receiving Tier 2 or Tier 3 instruction, but at the end of the cycle, a formal decision is made about how the student will be served for the next cycle of instruction. This recursive cycle of intervention, progress monitoring, and adjustment of the intervention continues—even if a determination for special education eligibility is made—in a seamless collaboration between regular and special education.
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