Response to Intervention

Response to Intervention integrates assessment and intervention within a multi-leveled prevention system to maximize student achievement and to reduce behavior problems. With RTI schools identify students at risk for poor learning outcomes, monitor student progress, provide evidence-based interventions and adjust the intensity and nature of those interventions depending on a student’s responsiveness, and identify students with learning disabilities.

It can be very frustrating for a parent to watch their child struggle with academic and social skills, and / or behavior. Parents are constantly looking for ways to help their children when they see them struggling to keep up, or starting to fall behind their peers.

Response to Intervention is a multi-stepped intervention designed to help students who are struggling and falling behind. RTI does this by providing services and interventions to students at varying levels of intervention. The purpose of RTI is to intervene and provide services before a child fails.


The Individuals with Disabilities Act and No Child Left Behind allow schools to intervene before the child has to fail. They are considered “early intervening services” and can take place before a child is referred to special education. Both of these laws emphasize providing high quality, scientific-based instruction and interventions provided by highly qualified teachers. They attempt to hold school districts accountable for student achievement by meeting state standards or adequate yearly progress. RTI is designed to help schools focus on high quality interventions while monitoring student progress. Information gathered from student monitoring is then used to make informed decisions about instruction and levels of intervention.

Response to Intervention is a process that narrows in on how individual students respond to changes in their instruction. The key elements of the RTI approach are: providing scientific, research-based instruction and interventions in general education; monitoring and measuring student progress in response to the instruction and interventions; using the information gathered from student progress to make educational decisions. A number of leading national organizations and coalition groups, including the National Research Center on Learning Disabilities and the 14 organizations forming the 2004 LD Roundtable Coalition, have outlined the core features of an RTI process as follows:


  • High quality, research-based instruction and behavioral support in general education.
  • Universal (school-wide or district-wide) screening of academics and behavior in order to determine which students need closer monitoring or additional interventions.
  • Multiple tiers of increasingly intense scientific, research-based interventions that are matched to student need.
  • Use of a collaborative approach by school staff for development, implementation, and monitoring of the intervention process.
  • Continuous monitoring of student progress during the interventions, using objective information to determine if students are meeting goals.
  • Follow-up measures providing information that the intervention was implemented as intended with appropriate consistency.
  • Documentation of parent involvement throughout the process.
  • Documentation that the special education evaluation timelines specified in IDEA 2004 and in the state regulations are followed.

How Can Parents Be Involved?

As states and school districts work to implement an RTI process that provides early intervention to struggling students, parents need to be informed and understand what that process entails. Here are 10 questions from NCLD to ask about RTI to help guide you through the process.


  1. Is the school district currently using an RTI process to provide additional support to struggling students? If not, do they plan to?
  2. What screening procedures are used to identify students in need of intervention?
  3. What are the interventions and instructional programs being used? What research supports their effectiveness?
  4. What process is used to determine the intervention that will be provided?
  5. What length of time is allowed for an intervention before determining if the student is making adequate progress?
  6. What strategy is being used to monitor student progress? What re the types of data that will be collected and how will student progress be conveyed to parents?
  7. Is a written intervention plan provided to parents as part of the RTI process?
  8. Is the teacher or other person responsible for providing the interventions trained in using them?
  9. When and how will information about a student’s performance and progress be provided?
  10. At what point in the RTI process are students who are suspected of having a learning disability referred for formal evaluation?

Key Response to Intervention Terms

Response to Intervention (RTI):  A comprehensive, multi-stepped process that closely monitors how the student is responding to different types of services and instruction.

Progress Monitoring: A scientifically based practice used to assess students’ academic performance and evaluate the effectiveness of instruction. Progress monitoring can be implemented with individual students or an entire class.

Curriculum Based Measurement (CBM): Tools for measuring student competency and progress in the basic skill areas of reading fluency, spelling, mathematics and written language.

Scientific, Research-based Instruction: Curriculum and educational interventions that are research based and have been proven to be effective for most students.

Universal Screening: A step taken by school personnel early in the school year to determine which students are “at risk” for not meeting grade level standards. Universal screening can be accomplished by reviewing a student’s recent performance on state or district tests or by administering an academic screening to all students in a given grade. Students whose scores on the screening fall below a certain cut-off point are identified as needing continued progress monitoring and possibly more intensive interventions.

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