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Tips for How to Implement Response to Intervention (RTI) in Your Classroom

Updated: Jul 22, 2020

Response to Intervention (RTI) is wonderful academic intervention framework you can use to organize your curriculum in order to maximize and monitor student progress. There are two basic forms of RTI. Academic RTI that focuses on literacy skills and content mastery and Behavioral RTI, commonly known as School-Wide Positive Behavior and Supports (SWPBIS). Both forms use a Pyramid of Intervention. For the purposes of this article, we will focus on the Academic RTI Pyramid of Intervention.

In Tier 1 of the academic pyramid of intervention pyramid a student is learning at the same pace and in the same format as the rest of the class. Lesson delivery is standards-based.

In Tieir 2, the teacher is focused on providing alternate and/or reteaching learning opportunities small groups of students who failed to master the content as delivered during standards-based instruction. Finally, in Tier 3, a student is receiving 1 on 1 instruction or SST driven instructional interventions.

This can be overwhelming to new teachers as well as veterans. The key is to plan your curriculum with built-in benchmarks, assessments, and intervention strategies from day one.

Assessments and Benchmarks for Student Achievement

There are many indicators that a student may be struggling in school. Therefore, it is not practical to include all of them here. Since research has shown that there are two key factors that greatly impact student success, we will focus on those. These are attendance and grades.

  • Attendance: Run an attendance report monthly. Students who miss > 10% of school days (or are in ISS) are at risk

  • Grades: Check grades daily, weekly, or monthly (your choice). Students who fail a(n) assignment, test, or unit, are failing your class, or > 2 or more subjects require interventions

  • Literacy levels (reading, math, and writing): It is important to know your students and any academic weaknesses they may have when designing learning opportunities. These should be assessed three times each school year.

Academic Interventions

Academic interventions come in many forms. Use research-based interventions when students fall below Tier 1.

  • RTI Tier 2 Interventions are small groups. These groups are formed based on specific skills not mastered from Tier 1 instruction. Since they are formed around “skill mastery,” these groups are temporary and only meet until a specific set of skills or content are mastered. Making students feel “safe” is the primary goal for all learning environments. RTI Tier 2 interventions are an extra opportunity to connect with a student and provide some personal attention, feedback, and encouragement. If all has been successful with your targeted intervention group(s), students will return to the classroom for Tier 1 instruction, along with their peers. Maybe they’ll come back to another Tier 2 session in the future. If challenges continue, then RTI Tier 3 interventions are the next step.

  • RTI Tier 3 Interventions are highly intensive. They are targeted, 1 on 1 instructional sessions. Students have already passed through the first two levels of intervention without success. To be most effective, we must first step back and look at the bigger picture At this point it is a good idea to use a formal academic intervention assessment form and or meet with student support team members if available before moving forward. The goal is to determine the cause of the student's difficulties. Once addressed, the student can begin to gain confidence and work toward success.

Ideally, your school should have a comprehensive school-wide Title I program that incorporates assessments and interventions systematically. If so, you can easily coordinate state, district, and school-level assessments into with your yearly curriculum calendar. Whatever strategies you use, remember to use assessments to determine each student's level of success based on the RTI pyramid. Plan ahead for tier 2 and tier 3 interventions. Hopefully, you will never need them!

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