Factors Related to Successful RTI Implementation

Article excerpt

A recent movement in schools is the implementation of multitiered models of service delivery. Known as response to intervention (RTI; Barnes Sc Harlacher, 2008; Jimerson, Burns, & VanDerHeyden, 2007; NASDSE, 2006), multitiered systems of support (MTSS, Kansas Multi-Tiered Systems of Support, n.d), or instructional decision making (IDM; Ikeda et al., 2002), these models refer to a tiered framework of services in which researchbased instruction is matched to the "data-based needs of students" (Graden, Stellar, & Poth, 2007, p.295). This approach to education, which is referred to as RTI for the remainder of this article, has a philosophical background of prevention, early identification, collaboration, and use of research-based, effective practices (Brown-Chidsey, & Steege, 2005; NASDSE).

"With that philosophy in mind, it easy to understand how RTI is a paradigm shift for many schools (Reschly, 2008). Historically, schools have worked in silos where teachers provide instruction independent from other professionals in the building (Schmöker, 2006). When students are identified as having special needs, they are grouped with other students with similar labels (e.g., special education, talented and gifted, etc.). With RTI, these silos are deconstructed as educators spend more time collaborating with each other to develop instructional plans for all students. Instead of grouping students together based on identified labels, students are grouped based on their instructional needs (NASDSE, 2006; TUIy, 2008). In addition, educators collect and analyze various types of data and gather information on fidelity of implementation of instruction. All of this may require new skills from educators, restructuring of their roles, and even a reorganization of school programming and teams. Consequently, implementation of RTI is a 3- to 5-year process for sites to reach full implementation (TUIy, 2008).

Because implementation is a multiyear process, the question of what factors enable a smooth and successful transition is posed. It is not difficult to find within the literature what RTI is and how it may look within schools (Brown-Chidsey & Steege, 2005; Greenwood, Kratochwill, & Clements, 2008; Jimerson et al., 2007), but there is relatively less research onhowto implement RTI successfully (Greenwoodet al.; Kurns & Tilly, 2008). To provide practitioners with more direction for implementation, this article examines factors related to the successful implementation of RTI.


Within the literature, there is slight variation on what are the key components of RTI. For example, the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE, 2006) and St. Croix Education River District (SCRED, n.d) identified multiple tiers of intervention, a problem-solving orientation, and the use of an integrated data collection system as the three key components of RTI. Comparatively, BrownChidsey and Steege (2005) wrote that RTFs core features are high-quality instruction, frequent assessment, and data-based decision making. Other sites have added to these features. For example, Colorado's Department of Education (n.d.) lists six features of RTI: problem solving, curriculum and instruction, assessment, leadership, family and community partnering, and positive school climate (Colorado Department of Education, n.d.). Kansas' State Department of Education has identified assessment, instruction, and problem solving as components of their RTI model, but also included leadership, professional development, and empowering culture as other components (Kansas MTSS, n.d). Although some states and researchers may use different language or identify additional components, three common components comprise any RTI model: (a) a comprehensive assessment system; (b) a range of effective, research-based instruction (embodied in tiers or levels); and (c) use of the problemsolving model (Shin, 2008). …


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