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What is RTI?

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If you’re in education, you are probably seeing RTI everywhere. It might come up in meetings. In an IEP meeting, you might hear that RTI isn’t cutting it. Or, in a problem-solving meeting, everyone might talk about what RTI tier a child is at.  There are so many acronyms in education it is easy to lose track, so what is RTI?

RTI is an important part of general education. 

That’s right; I said general education. I know this blog is devoted to special education, and while a child with special needs might go through RTI, that’s going to be a specific situation. 

Usually, kids going through RTI don’t have IEPs.

So what is RTI? What purpose does it serve? How do schools use it? 

We’re going to cover all of that in this post, so keep reading to learn more!

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RTI stands for Response to Intervention. It’s often used to help struggling students who do not have diagnosed disabilities. 

There are three tiers with RTI. Tier one is what everyone is in. It’s essentially general education.

Tier 2 can still be done in the classroom, with the child receiving more direct and explicit instruction. 

Tier 3, meanwhile, is the last tier. It requires a specialist in the area the child is struggling in and usually deviates slightly from what is happening in general education. Students at this level get more intensive instruction. 

Data should be collected at every tier in order to make informed decisions with fidelity. You can’t move a child from one tier to another without hard data proving it’s needed.

The RTI specialist at my school once said to me she considered her job keeping kids off my caseload. 

In a sense, that is true. If your state has RTI laws on the books, then a child cannot get an IEP without having gone through the tiers. 

More important than keeping kids off the special ed teacher’s caseload, though, is supporting students at all levels, regardless of if they have an IEP. 

Let’s say you’ve had a student at tier 3 in math for a few months, and their skills are not improving. 

At that point, it would be time to start talking about getting parent consent to do evaluations and see if an IEP is needed. 

That way, the team can see if part of the problem is a learning disability or some other kind of disability. 

It’s important to do RTI first, though, because it keeps kids in the general education setting as long as possible, which, as we all know, is a right.

Also, I know if a student is getting an IEP after going through the tiers, I want to review the data from that, as well as the evaluation results. 

It keeps me from repeating similar techniques.

RTI can be great if implemented correctly, RTI can be a great addition to any school. I’m going to stress that word, though, school. 

RTI is not something that can just be done in one classroom. It requires a team effort to collect the data, create the interventions, and move kids through the tiers. 

Plus, kids at tier 3 need someone more specialized than just a general education teacher. 

If you’re one teacher in a state that does not require RTI, you can collect some data and help kids monitor their progress and implement different interventions at different levels. 

It would be similar to how you scaffold to different groups but with more data. 

However, for RTI to truly be used with fidelity, it has to be a school-wide program!

RTI is an important part of education when implemented correctly and with fidelity. It is a great chance for teachers to work together collaboratively and help schools separate students who are struggling from those whose learning is affected by a disability. 

I hope you found this post helpful and that it’s taught you what RTI is. If you enjoyed reading it and learned something from this, make sure to join my email list! 

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