Saturday, September 17, 2011

Prevention through RTI

The following post consists of my initial thoughts about Response to Intervention after reading an introductory chapter. I focus on how RTI addresses the prevention of learning problems, as well as how this affects eligibility decisions made by a multidisciplinary team.

Rather than waiting for students to show signs of academic issues, Response to Intervention focuses on assessing all students before they begin to have problems. A Response to Intervention program begins by ensuring that teachers are using the most effective instructional techniques for their classes. Then, by moving through three tiers, students get individualized help with their learning as needed (Martinez & Nellis, 2008). When RTI is done early in elementary school, it can help teachers discover each child’s strengths and challenges quickly. This makes RTI a preventive measure, because it addresses some issues early, before they can become long-term learning problems. Without assessment of all students’ learning abilities, some children might fall through the cracks and stay at a lower level of learning for the rest of elementary school. If children are allowed to move through school without truly learning the basics in the beginning, they will be at a great disadvantage later in their school careers. RTI works to prevent this from happening by giving students the extra assistance they need when they are younger, so that they move onto each grade ready for the new challenges it will bring.

Through RTI, teachers are able to evaluate the abilities of all students starting on a level playing field. As acknowledged in the “Response to Intervention in Action” video, schools must serve very diverse student populations, and RTI gives staff very clear directions for meeting the needs of all students. In a tier system, all students begin with the same type of instruction, and move into more individualized support in the next two tiers. If implemented well, it seems that RTI could prevent students from being placed in special education classes unnecessarily. A Response to Intervention program would provide specific steps throughout the tiers to ensure that students respond well to interventions. Teachers look at individual student progress to decide the best way to proceed in individual and group instruction (Martinez & Nellis, 2008). By observing and evaluating each student so thoroughly, the school’s multidisciplinary team would be able to more clearly decide which students had true need of special education services. It also allows staff to support students with services without labeling them as being in special education (“RTI in Action” video). This system supports inclusion by identifying students that would benefit from extra attention and more personalized instruction throughout the day, while keeping most of their day in a general education classroom.

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