Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Response To Intervention

Response to Intervention (RTI) is a way for educators to address concerns from parents regarding children who may be experiencing difficulties in school. Iowa’s Director of Education, Jason Glass, has announced quite a focus on RTI for school districts across the state in the next several months. RTI is a process that is designed to help support children who are not being successful in school in any subject or a combination of subjects through the implementation of multiple high quality instructional strategies for a period of time to see if a child “responds” to any of the “interventions”. This goal of this process is to focus on helping children learn by addressing problem earlier, before the child is so far behind that a referral for special education is made. The better a student responds to a strategy, the less likely that student will be referred for special education services. There are specific core features of the RTI process that are important in understanding the entire process; however, the one that gets the most attention is the “tiered approach”. This approach is a leveled application that is common across many human service fields, including the medical and public health fields.  It involves interventions at three levels: primary, secondary, and tertiary and are all designed to be levels of prevention.

The primary level of prevention focuses on keeping problems from preventing. For example, a high quality reading program delivered to all students in the general education setting should reduce the incidence of reading problems.  The secondary level of prevention focuses on efforts to detect problems early and correct them right away or keep them from getting worse. For example, using that same example with the high quality reading program, if a student is not progressing adequately, that student may receive an extra period of small group instruction or even individual one-on-one support. Finally, the third level of prevention refers to efforts to approach problems in an aggressive manner.  Again, using that same reading example, if the child continues to fall behind and experience difficulties additional information would need to be gathered to determine what stronger and more specialized interventions would be appropriate. Of course, a key to the success at any intervention level is parental involvement.

Involvement of parents in the RTI process is crucial to its success because the parents can actually help reinforce the support of the school at home.  The Center for Learning Disabilities and the National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities advises parents to ask a few of the following questions:

                *Does our school use an RTI process (or the RTI process but called something different)?

                *What materials does the school have to explain the RTI process?

                *What interventions are being used to serve the child currently?

                *How do school personnel check to be sure the interventions are done as planned?

                *How do school personnel determine success of a strategy?       

                *How does the school involve the parents during the RTI process?

*At what point in the RTI process are parents informed about their IDEA rights, including the right to request an evaluation?

The primary benefit of RTI is that it eliminates the “wait to fail” situation because students get the help quickly in the general education setting.   It is important for parents to work with the school to support the implementation of strategies in the RTI process. It is also important to note that during the process of RTI, parents do not give up any authority to act on their child’s behalf, and, at any time during the RTI process, parents can request a special education eligibility evaluation.



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