Response to Intervention (RTI) is a strategy geared towards students who face learning challenges. Students struggle for a variety of reasons and it’s important to understand why these students are struggling and the best way to create a learning path so that they are successful and feel good about themselves. The premise behind “interventions” is to ensure that students receive the supports they need so that the gaps in learning are not exacerbated. It is important to note, however, that “gaps” should not be seen as deficits; rather gaps are areas of growth for students and each student has their own areas of growth based on a wide range of assessments. I, personally, have an issue with the term “gaps” but that is a topic of discussion for another time. It is also important to know that RTI is not a program; it is an approach that identifies student needs based on collecting data from various sources and in a variety of ways and then identifies and applies relevant instructional strategies to develop those skills in students.
As it is, one of the most important parts of the RTI process is to build a team to effectively support students who are struggling. The team should include classroom teachers, administrators, teachers who support special education students and those students who are learning English, the school psychologist, speech-language therapist, and parents. Teachers provide targeted teaching and then use formative assessment practices to determine if the intervention strategies are working. If they are not working, the team must decide how they will adapt and modify their instructional practices to ensure that students are indeed learning and growing. A significant aspect to keep in mind is that formative assessments inform us of what we must do to ensure student success, not what the student needs to do. In other words, how are we adjusting our practice to best support students? Assessment informs instruction; it is our responsibility to continuously revise what we are doing so that students meet the learning goals related to curriculum standards and expectations.
Even though there is no one correct way to implement RTI, it is a three-tiered approach and you can think of it as a pyramid in which each tier increases in intensity of support. They are:
- whole class
- small group, and
- intensive interventions.
Some school boards call this a multi-tiered system of supports or MTSS. Although there are many benefits to this approach, I also see several problems and issues arising from the basic foundation upon which RTI and MTSS were built. I will be discussing these issues in future blog posts as well as digging deeper into this system of support and how to best implement this framework so that all students succeed, grow, and have a positive self-worth.
Dr. Shelly Vohra is an educator, coach, and consultant. Dr. Vohra teaches undergraduate and graduate level courses in Technology and Mathematics as well as working with students who are learning English. She holds an M.Ed in Adult Education & Distant Learning and a Ph.D. in Educational Technology. Dr. Vohra has over 20 years of experience in education (K-12) teaching various subject areas. Dr. Vohra has written several courses related to Indigenous Education, Multilingual Learners, and Mathematics. Most recently, she was on a writing team that revised the Science Curriculum (K-8) for Ontario. She has presented at various conferences in Canada and the U.S.A. Dr. Vohra’s work includes designing learning experiences for students through an integrated curriculum lens that combines inquiry with equity. Her research interests include social media in education and blended learning, Dr. Vohra is currently writing a book on her journey. You can find her blog at https://techdiva29.wordpress.com/. Her website will also be launching in late Fall. You can also follow her on Twitter @raspberryberet3 and on Instagram @elevate_ed_21.