Response to Intervention, or RtI, is a research-based, proactive strategy that creates the academic and behavioural systems and structures needed for all students to grow academically and socially. At the core of RtI is the belief that all students can perform academically and exhibit appropriate behaviour with the implementation of proper supports.
RtI has three tiers, or levels, that begin with high quality instruction and positive behavioural supports for all students and moves to more individualised intervention plans for students who require more targeted supports. All three tiers require interventions to be research-based and tracked consistently through data collection and analysis.
In relation to special education, particularly as it is introduced in the 2004 iteration of IDEA, RtI is a process used to determine whether a student is in need of special education services. Some states require that RtI systems and procedures be followed before a student can be recommended for psychoeducational evaluation and placed in special education. Other states allow the use of RtI to qualify students for academic special education services under the diagnosis of Specific Learning Disability. With the proper implementation of RtI, evaluations that result in no diagnosis or a misdiagnosis can be avoided, saving both valuable time and resources.
There are 3 RtI tiers, or levels, that are designed to produce a positive school climate and address the needs of students at varying levels of development. All three levels require faithful and consistent implementation in order to be effective.
Tier 1 interventions are universal for all students and include high quality curricula, universal academic screeners, rules, systems and procedures, and other schoolwide strategies consistently implemented to support students. At this level of support, it is crucial that faculty and staff members use common language and practices around academics and behaviour management to ensure the program’s effectiveness. When executed with fidelity, Tier 1 supports are successful with approximately 80 % of all students.
Tier 2 supports include systems and strategies built to target a smaller contingent of students that are not responding consistently to Tier 1 supports. These students are more likely to not master introduced skills in a whole group setting and/or display behaviours that are detrimental to the school community as evidenced by behaviour data collected by school personnel. Tier 2 supports include small group instruction or support groups with research-based curricula, check-in/check-out, peer or teacher mentors, and generalised behaviourintervention plans. Assessment of the supports’ effectiveness over time determines whether a student requires further intervention of will continue with Tier 2 supports.
Tier 3 supports are personalised interventions designed for individual students that are performing significantly below grade level and/or demonstrate a consistent pattern of behaviour severe enough that Tier 1 and 2supports do not suffice. Tier 3 academic supports are provided either individually or in a levelled, small group of6 or less students and uses research-based curricula to address skills at the student’s functional level rather than grade level. Tier 3 behaviour supports begin with a Functional Behaviour Assessment conducted by a social worker or other trained staff member to determine what problem behaviours require support. From that assessment, an individualised behaviour intervention plan is created that provides supports, such as personalised student trackers, counselling sessions, structured breaks, and changes in daily schedule. Assessment and evaluation of Tier 3 supports should happen more frequently (daily or weekly) than other supports and should be used to determine whether a student is responding positively or if adjustments need to be made to the plan.
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