Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Service Delivery for Response to Intervention: Core Components and Directions for Future Research

Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Service Delivery for Response to Intervention: Core Components and Directions for Future Research

Article excerpt

Abstract. The primary potential benefit of the response-to-intervention model is its utility for serving students with unmet instructional or behavioral needs. Although discussion and debates have often focused on the potential "promise and pitfalls" of using response to intervention to make eligibility decisions, less attention has been devoted to key aspects of service delivery necessary for response-to-intervention implementation. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the state of the science relevant to the actual application of response-to-intervention service delivery within schools. The article outlines five core service delivery components, provides a summary of evidence corresponding to each component, and identifies necessary directions for future research with implications for practice.

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As a result of provisions in the 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, response to intervention (RTI) has garnered significant attention as a means of guiding decisions about school-based service delivery. Well aligned with the No Child Left Behind Act's (2001) requirements for the use of periodic standardized assessments to inform curriculum implementation and school improvement, RTI is a potential method for ensuring students are provided with instruction that is responsive to their educational progress (of lack thereof). RTI is used to evaluate the effectiveness of basic instruction in meeting all students' needs. Within an RTI framework, children with limited progress are assigned to specific evidence-based interventions designed to improve their behavior or rate of learning. Ongoing instructional or behavioral supports are provided and modified, if necessary, over time based on needs identified through regular assessment. As outlined in the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act of 2004, those who fail to respond to repeated intervention may also be considered to have a learning disability and eligible for special education (e.g., Fuchs, 2003).

Although recent discussion and debates often have focused on the potential "promise and pitfalls" of RTI-based eligibility decisions (e.g., Gresham, 2002; Hale, Naglieri, Kaufman, & Kavale, 2004; Speece, Case, & Molloy, 2003), the identification of at-risk students or those with specific disabilities via RTI is only an intermediate objective in achieving a greater end goal. The greatest potential benefit of an RTI framework is its utility for determining responsiveness to instruction and guiding service delivery for students with unmet needs. Service delivery has been conceptualized as including structural and functional components (Reynolds, Gutkin, Elliott, & Witt, 1984). Examples of structural components of service delivery include the conceptual model of service provision, system resources, and organizational framework. Functional components of service delivery include the activities and roles of professionals within a system. This article focuses on key structural components that must be in place to implement RTI.

By providing a critical discussion of structural components needed to serve students, we hope to advance thinking about RTI, its potential, and current limitations of extant research. Service delivery for RTI is based on developments over the past three decades in behavioral consultation (e.g., Bergan, 1977; Bergan & Kratochwill, 1990), data-based problem modification (e.g., Deno, 1985; Deno & Mirkin, 1977), curriculum-based measurement (e.g., Deno, 1985; Shinn, 2002), protocols for evidence-based instruction and intervention (e.g., Vaughn, Linan-Thompson, & Hickman, 2003; Torgesen et al., 2001; Vellutino et al., 1996), multitiered models for assisting students (e.g., Vaughn, 2003; Walker & Shinn, 2002), and functional behavioral assessment and analysis (e.g., Gresham, 1991). Five core components for RTI service delivery, based on these and other advancements, include the following: (a) multitier implementation, (b) student assessment and decision making, (c) evidence-based intervention provision, (d) maintenance of procedural integrity, and (e) development and sustainability of systems-level capacity. …

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