While there is no single, thoroughly researched and widely practiced “model” of the RTI process, it is generally defined as a three-tier (or 3-step) model of school supports that used research-based academic and/or behavioral interventions. At all stages of the process, RTI should focus on discovering how to make the student more successful rather than focusing on the student’s lack of success. The three model includes:
Tier 1: Screening and Group Interventions
The instruction that students receive in the general education classroom with their regular teacher is called Tier 1 instruction. All children receive this first level of reading instruction, which usually lasts about 90 minutes each day. When a screening test shows that a child is at risk for reading problems, the child may receive extra help in the general education classroom with the general education teacher. If, after a brief period of time, progress monitoring shows that there has been very little progress, the teacher will consult with other staff members at the school. Together, they might decide that the best way to help a child who has not improved with the general education curriculum (Tier 1), even with extra help, would be to give the child Tier 2 instruction.
Tier 2: Targeted Interventions
Students not making adequate progress in the regular classroom in Tier 1 are provided with more intensive services and interventions. These services are provided in addition to instruction in the general curriculum. These interventions are provided in small group setting. In the early grades (K-3) interventions are usually in the areas of reading and math. A longer period of time may be required for this tier, but it should not exceed a grading period.
Students who continue to show too little progress at this level of intervention are then considered for more intensive interventions as part of Tier 3.
Depending on the school’s particular model of RTI, parents may or may not be involved in Tier 2. Ideally, schools involve parents at the earliest stages of RTI by explaining the process in face-to-face meetings, providing written intervention plans and requesting parental consent.
Tier 3: Intensive Interventions and Comprehensive Evaluation
Students receive individualized, intensive interventions that target student’s skill deficits. Students who do not respond to these targeted interventions are then considered for eligibility as required by the Individual’s with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The data collected during Tiers 1, 2, and 3 should be included and used to help make eligibility decisions.
At any point in an RTI process, IDEA allows parents to request a formal evaluation to determine eligibility for special education. An RTI process cannot be used to deny or delay a formal evaluation for special education.