No, RTI can be used for other academic subjects, such as mathematics, or for behavior problems, such as bullying. It is mainly used for reading intervention because reading is the biggest academic problem in the United States. However, you should think of RTI as a framework that can be applied to any subject. For example, RTI for behavior is sometimes called Positive Behavior Support (PBS) - a model for preventing and discontinuing unwanted behaviors.
Why would one school, class, or teacher decide or want to do RTI, and another would not?
-Also, veteran teachers might not want to implement RTI in their classrooms because they feel that they would have to change their teaching style or classroom routines too much.
However, it is important for teachers to understand that RTI, while requiring some additional work, is well worth the small amount of extra effort that must be applied. Also, the amount of additional effort is probably much less than is perceived by teachers who do not currently use RTI. With a small amount of professional development, RTI might seem more manageable to teachers who have doubts about using it.
RTI seems to require a lot more staff. Does this hold it back?
Once again, this is a perception that some people have about RTI. They might think that extra staff is required for doing assessments, or that each tier requires specific interventionists. While this can be the case, RTI does not necessarily require more staff. It can be implemented in a classroom with just one teacher.
How much more teacher training is needed to understand RTI?
First of all, many teachers are already doing RTI without any training, and perhaps without knowing it! By spending a little more time on intense RTI training, these teachers could use RTI in their classrooms even more effectively. Once a teacher starts using RTI, it gets easier to implement and understand. It is also helpful to have multiple professionals collaborating in their use of RTI because it provides a support system for teachers who are newer to using the model.
In addition to a small amount of professional development focused on RTI, it is helpful for teachers to have an understanding of their state's special education law (Article 7 in Indiana) as well as further training on how to use RTI assessments, such as the curriculum-based measurement specific to their school.
Are the tiers used differently in each state, or are they the basic principles of all RTI?
The tiers are a basic principle of Response to Intervention. However, each state chooses exactly how RTI will look in their schools; they choose the number of tiers and exactly how to distribute students among them. Some states choose to have four, or even five tiers, instead of the standard three.
How much data is collected to decide which students are in which tier?
The process of placing students in tiers for RTI begins with CBM to see where each student is with a certain skill. The data from this CBM is backed by other data, such as observations by the teacher or other professionals who regularly work with the child. If a first assessment shows that a student is struggling with a concept, no more preliminary assessments are necessary. This struggling student would be placed in the second or third tier, depending on the severity of their difficulty, and he or she would receive the necessary interventions. Once a child is receiving extra assistance, he or she would be assessed more frequently to track progress and determine if or when a change to another tier should occur.
How does RTI differ from tracking?
Unlike RTI, tracking is a constant practice. A school decides that a certain type of student should be placed in classes of a certain difficulty, and the student stays in this track throughout their school career. This is a type of segregation; tracking keeps students in one type of education. RTI, on the other hand, strives to help students improve. Students are placed in tiers for the amount of time necessary for them to improve their skills in a certain area; if an intervention helps a student in tier two improve, he or she will be moved to tier one. Also, with an RTI model, a student could be in different tiers for different academic subjects: a student might be in tier one for literacy, but in tier three for math. Once again, these are subject to change as necessary. Tracking places a student in one track level for all subjects for all of school.
If RTI is a practice, why doesn't the government fund it?
RTI is an "unfunded mandate" - it is a best practice, but it is not funded entirely by the government. The government supports RTI, and the level of support may vary from state to state, but it does not provide all the necessary funding. This is because the government is not in the practice of providing an excellent or the best education; it is in the business of providing free and appropriate education, meeting the basic needs of students in general. Therefore, RTI, which means providing the best possible education for every student, is not something the government funds completely.
Do parents get open access to their students' records?
YES. Schools which implement RTI well, send weekly or biweekly progress reports, including graphs of data, home to students' families. Teachers should schedule conferences to meet with parents of students who need extra assistance in the classroom to talk about ways in which the teacher can collaborate with the family to help the child improve, and to make sure families understand the interventions their child is receiving.
How can parents collaborate with teachers to make RTI happen?
Teachers can provide parents with resources about the interventions their child is receiving in school, as well as materials and ideas for how these interventions can be extended for home use. (e.g. Teachers might give families flashcards, games, or other activities that relate to the child's difficulties.) Teachers can do home visits, which allow them to observe and understand a child's home environment, as well as share information with RTI directly with parents. Teachers can also distribute an RTI newsletter to parents, explaining how RTI is used in the classroom, and how families can support this at home.
Families can collaborate with teachers by being open and honest about home practices. They should also feel comfortable sharing with teachers if they feel that their child might be struggling. Families can also be aware of RTI practices and be ready to advocate for their child's education at the school or in the district. Parents can have a strong voice with a school board if they are passionate about an issue such as RTI.
Basically, the best way for teachers and parents to collaborate is for all parties to be entirely invested and involved in the child's best possible education.