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Written by:  Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts
Date: October 1, 2011

Q: I've heard about Response to Intervention, but I really don't understand exactly what it is and how it will affect my child. Please explain. — In the Dark

A: Response to Intervention (RTI) is the new prevention program designed specifically to provide quick, early help to students who are having difficulty learning. It gives help before students are failing. One of the aims of RTI is to prevent unnecessary assignment of students to special education.

RTI integrates assessment and intervention with a three-tiered prevention program to ensure that all students achieve, along with reducing behavior problems. How your child is affected by RTI depends on how rapidly his or her school is moving to implement the program fully.

In a school using RTI, a screening program is used with every student. Then, based on the results of the screening, RTI provides support for all students at the intensity level each one needs to achieve academic success. Students are placed in one of three tiers. As the year progresses, tiers of intervention can change.

Tier 1: Most students will be in this tier, which is the grade-level classroom. Help is given in the form of research-based interventions to the class or individuals based on frequent assessment of the progress the group and individuals are making in meeting grade-level norms.Tier 2: Students placed in this tier will receive classroom instruction plus supplementary instruction three to four times a week from 30 to 60 minutes for nine to 12 weeks in small groups (usually two to four students). The supplementary instruction is provided by trained personnel. These students are frequently monitored to see if they no longer need Tier 2 services or if they may require Tier 3 services.Tier 3: These students need more intense and more frequent interventions. They are having significant learning difficulties and have not been helped by Tier 2 interventions. Special-education instruction is provided to these students individually or in small groups by special-education teachers. They may be pulled out of the classroom or be moved to a special class.

Students who need more support than provided in the tier system will be further tested to identify their specific learning-disability needs. For more information on RTI, visit


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