CEC'S POSITION ON RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION (RTI): The Unique Role of Special Education and Special Educators

Article excerpt

The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) recognizes the impact that Response to Intervention (RTI) can have on the education of all children, roles of special educators, and the special education system. The RTI process is designed to identify struggling learners early, to provide access to needed interventions, and to help identify children with disabilities. RTI is a process intended to assist in identifying children with disabilities by providing data about how a child responds to scientifically based intervention as part of the comprehensive evaluation required for identification of any disability. Special educators play an integral role and have a strong and clear identity in the RTI process. To that end, CEC believes that any RTI process must include nonnegotiable guarantees related to special education and the key role of special educators.


* Must be viewed as a schoolwide initiative, with special education as an explicit part of the framework, spanning both general and special education in collaboration with families. The RTI process represents an inclusive partnership between all school personnel and families to identify and address the academic and behavioral needs of learners beginning as early as the preschool years.

* Shall not delay the referral of a child who is suspected of having a disability for a comprehensive evaluation. Children with identified disabilities may not be required to go through an RTI process in order to receive special education and related services.


* Shall consist of a multi-tiered problem-solving process with at least three tiers (three tiers being the most common approach). The first tier provides instruction through a universal core program in general education until students show evidence of failing to respond as expected to the instruction provided. The second tier provides intervention that is more intensive than general education but less individualized than special education. The third or highest tier provides specially designed instruction and related services, which is special education, and is delivered by special educators and related service personnel. This tier may also include intense individualized intervention services to a small number of children not identified as having a disability but requiring these services that are delivered by specialized general educators and/or other professionals.

* Special education and related services in tier three are based on an Individualized Education Program and use the most intensive intervention programs that are designed and implemented to address individual student needs. Specially designed instruction should be characterized by individualized, data-based, and recursive instruction, combined, as appropriate, with general education instruction.

* Shall include universal screening, high quality research-based instruction, and progress monitoring to determine the quality of student responses to intervention as well as inform decisions about the student's movement between tiers. Tiers should differ in the intensity (i.e., duration, frequency, and time) of the research-based interventions, the level of individualization delivered, the size of student groupings, and the skill level of the educator.

* Shall include a universal screening process (generally early in tier one) that incorporates short-term progress monitoring in response to general education for determining which children require a change of tier.

* Shall use a formative evaluation process, such as progress monitoring measures, to inform instructional decision making about adjusting instruction, changing curricula or materials, and/or determining movement among tiers.

Referral to Special Education

* Shall include provisions for referral for a comprehensive evaluation in any tier, which includes measures of cognitive ability, to determine if a child has a disability and is eligible for special education and related services and due process protections. …