Academic journal article International Journal of Whole Schooling

Agents of Change: Voices of Teachers on Response to Intervention

Academic journal article International Journal of Whole Schooling

Agents of Change: Voices of Teachers on Response to Intervention

Article excerpt

"I feel like I am an agent of change but I also feel like my students are agents of change. You know, I think kids are as invested as the teachers. Sharlene, second grade teacher

Response to Intervention (RTI) models are one of the most common initiatives being implemented today to address concerns about all U.S. students having equitable access to general education, including students with disabilities, students from diverse cultural backgrounds, and students who speak English as a second language. Although not mandated by federal regulation, RTI approaches are included in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) regulations (Sec. 300.307), which suggests a systematic process for screening, intervening and monitoring to determine a child's response to scientific, research-based intervention. IDEA and the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 (U.S. Department of Education, 2001) both support closing achievement gaps, underscoring importance of high quality, scientifically-based instruction and interventions, and holding schools accountable for the progress of all students in meeting grade level standards (Klotz, 2007). A number of leading national organizations and coalition groups, including the National Research Center on Learning Disabilities and the 14 organizations forming the 2004 Learning Disabilities (LD) Roundtable coalition, have outlined the core features of an RTI process as follows:

1. High quality, research-based instruction and behavioral support in general education.

2. Universal (school-wide or district-wide) screening of academics and behavior in order to determine which students need closer monitoring or additional interventions.

3. Multiple Tiers of increasingly intense scientific, research-based interventions that are matched to student need.

4. Use of a collaborative approach by school staff for development, implementation, and monitoring of the intervention process.

5. Continuous monitoring of student progress during the interventions, using objective information to determine if students are meeting goals.

6. Follow-up measures providing information that the intervention was implemented as intended and with appropriate consistency.

7. Documentation of parent involvement throughout the process.

8. Documentation that the special education evaluation timelines specified in IDEA 2004 and in the state regulations is followed unless both the parents and the school team agree to an extension.

These core features may be grouped under three essential aims of a RTI approach:(1) the provision of scientific, research-based instruction and interventions in general education; (2) monitoring and measurement of student progress in response to the instruction and interventions; and (3) use of these measures of student progress to shape instruction and make educational decisions (Klotz, 2007). Regardless of the RTI approach or model used, schools must be prepared to offer a variety of proven instructional strategies; staff must be trained to measure student performance using methods that are sensitive to small increments of growth; and parents must be kept informed of these new procedures and made partners in the process (Klotz, 2007). Teams must also determine how they will define an "adequate" response to an intervention in other words, how much progress over what period of time will be the benchmark to determine if an intervention is successful? Until forthcoming federal regulations offer guidance, each school district must develop its own procedures based on state regulations, available resources, and the needs of its student population.

RTI is commonly implemented using one of two approaches. The "problem solving" approach uses interventions, selected by a team, that target each student's individual needs. The "standard treatment" approach uses one consistent intervention, selected by the school that addresses multiple students' needs. …

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