|Essay type:||Definition essays|
|Categories:||Learning Students Data analysis|
According to The National Research Center on Learning Disabilities (NRCLD 2006), RTI (Responsiveness to Intervention) is a process that involves the intervention and assessment for systematic monitoring of student progress and decision-making associated with the need for instructional modification and increasingly intensified services using progress monitoring data. The RTI model has been in use since the 1980s to identify the presence of learning disabilities in students (Fuchs and Fuchs 93). The main reason behind the adoption of RTI stems from the dissatisfaction many educators have with the model that is widely used in education systems, the IQ-achievement discrepancy model. This model involves the use of standardized tests that measure the intelligence and cognitive capacities of students, such as processing speed and short-term or long-term memory capacity. In the RTI model, close collaboration among teachers, parents, and specialized education personnel ensures there is early identification of learning and behavioral problems among students and the appropriate resources to ensure these students move forward in the education curriculum. The RTI model approach delivers service to all aspects of education, including general, special, and remedial education through a service delivery model that consists of multiple tiers. This multi-tiered approach helps struggling students at increasing levels of intensity. RTI is also used in decision-making in general and special education, creating a sound system of instructions and interventions that are guided by child outcome data.
The concept of RTI has always been a critical component of accountability in the education system, seeking to answer the question at the back of every educator's mind: Do instruction lead to increased levels of learning and progress? During the past few years, RTI’s focus has shifted to individuals with learning disabilities, especially with the introduction of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004, which was established as an approach to remedial intervention that aimed at identifying students with learning disabilities and who may need special education. Today, educators and researchers are looking into the usefulness of the RTI approach as a way of identifying students with learning disabilities early, as well as to provide a way to ensure that students with learning disabilities receive timely and effective support. A vital element of the RTI approach is providing early intervention to students at the first instance of academic difficulty, including students who may have learning disabilities. Aside from the preventive and remedial services the RTI approach delivers, there is also great promise for the contribution of data useful for identifying learning disabilities among students. From this data, factors such as extremely low academic achievements and insufficient responsiveness to intervention may indicate whether a student is at risk of a learning disability. The main concepts of the RTI approach are; application of scientifically researched interventions in education, measuring students' responses to the interventions, and the use of the data acquired to inform instruction.
Strategies used in RTI
Two strategies are used when using the RTI approach: standard-treatment protocols and problem-solving models. Standard-treatment protocol provides an algorithm that consists of a number of steps that use the same validated treatment method for students with similar academic difficulties in a set domain (Fuchs et al. 417). The standard-treatment protocol is advantageous in that it lacks ambiguity, and every member of the school staff know what to do. Problem-solving models, on the other hand, makes use of differentiated instruction from child to child (Fuchs et al. 417). In this problem-solving model, a multidisciplinary team conducts interventions on students based on each student's needs. This strategy is more complicated than standard-treatment protocols because it requires more training and expertise, and it is also time-consuming. The advantage of this model is that it addresses the need of all the students but in an individual manner. Some researchers recommend starting with the standard-treatment protocol for all the students then moving on to a problem-solving model when the standard-treatment protocol fails (Kovaleski 80).
Reliability and Validity of RTI
The extent of validity and reliability of RTI in the identification of students with learning disabilities is based on two factors; sensitivity and specificity. Sensitivity refers to the extent to which a certain operationalization of RTI accurately and reliably identifies students with learning disabilities. Students found to have LD are referred to as true positives and are considered at risk of academic difficulties in the future. This is a vital concept of RTI as it ensured students who need specialized intervention receive it early.
Specificity refers to the extent to which an RTI operationalization accurately and reliably identifies students who do not need extra intervention from educators. Such students are known as true negatives, and they are not at risk of future academic difficulty. A high specificity level reduces the number of false positives, thereby saving time and preventing giving incorrect instruction to individuals who do not need it.
The IQ-discrepancy model does not provide the required levels of specificity and sensitivity, as it produces a large number of false positives and false negatives. For example, a student may be identified as having a learning disability when the real reason for the academic difficulty is because the student has not been given quality instruction. Also, a student with low IQ scores who has a learning disability may be denied special services because their scores are not different enough to consider special education (Fuchs et al. 157).
Two aspects of RTI address the two concepts of sensitivity and specificity. First, the quality of curriculum and instruction provided to students in Tier 1 results in more students progressing smoothly and satisfactorily. Second, the filtering process of the levels of intervention clearly distinguishes true positives and true negatives.
Structure of RTI
Although there is no universally agreed definition of RTI, it is often conceptualized as a three-tiered model based on academics and student behavior. The first tier, Tier 1, focuses on the universal reading instruction given to all the students (Fuchs and Fuchs 93). One major element of the RTI approach is to ensure the material and instruction given to students in the class are backed by research, showing its effectiveness for a considerable number of students. Not all students will make progress in learning irrespective of the quality of the instruction. For this reason, students are screened three times a year. The data obtained from the screening is used by grade-level teams to determine which students will benefit most from Tier 2 instruction. For these students, Tier 2 instruction is meant to supplement Tier 1 instruction. Thus, universal screening is used to identify students that need additional instruction and to provide information on the quality of instruction used in Tier 1. The measures used in RTI are rate-based measures designed to indicate progress in basic academic skills such as math, reading, spelling, and writing. The interventions used in Tier 1 are meant to be preventive and proactive. This means that the core foundation of instructions and school organization increases the improvement in academics leading to academic success and also reduces the number of students being referred to remedial and special education services.
In Tier 2, evidence-based intervention is delivered to students in small groups of three to eight students for a period of 20 to 40 minutes thrice a week., for eight to ten weeks. (Fletcher and Vaughn 30). The instructions given at this tier are systematic and designed to give students more opportunities to practice their skills (Fuchs and Fuchs 93). At this tier, students are also assessed frequently using curriculum-based measurements. These assessments are conducted at least once per week and are used to monitor students' responses to interventions. Interventions are adjusted for students who do not show progress in Tier 2. If the students still do not show improvement, the intervention in replaced altogether with a more appropriate one. For example, a student may show inadequate response in the topics of sight words and decoding. The intervention used in this case can be supplemented with additional instruction, specifically targeting letter-sound correspondence. Additional group sessions can also be beneficial to these students. Meanwhile, progress monitoring is used to determine whether the adjustments made to the interventions will enable the student will get back on track to meet the end of year academic expectations. If a student still does not show adequate progress in Tier 2 even after a change of intervention, then there is a need for Tier 3 intervention, which is more intensive than Tier 2.
Tier 3 may be adopted if Tier 2 intervention did not target the required skills, or even if the intervention targeted the appropriate skills, the intensity used in the intervention did not meet the required level. In Tier 3, a thorough evaluation is carried out by a multidisciplinary team to determine a student’s eligibility for special education and other appropriate education services. During this evaluation, a learner's other disabilities, such as autism, hearing impairments, and intellectual disabilities, are not considered. Essentially, Tier 3 involves carrying out an in-depth identification process for special education needs, combined with progress monitoring that is carried out even more frequently than in Tier 2. This process is meant to find the right interventions and remediation to address the needs of individual students. From the data obtained, interventions targeted to a specific individual are adopted. These interventions are more individualized and more intense than in Tier 2, and they also consist of smaller groups than in Tier 2, usually groups of one to four students. Teaching time in Tier 3 is also increased, with about 45 to 60 minutes daily for a period of up to 20 weeks. (Vaughn et al. 234). When students show adequate response at Tier 3, they are referred back to Tier 1 or Tier 2. However, progress is still monitored to obtain data on the stability and level of responsiveness to the interventions. If a student again does not show academic progress, there are five options to be considered (Vaughn and Fuchs 137):
- Problem-solving teams used different interventions in Tier 3 until an effective one is found.
- An alternative curriculum is used on the student, one that shifts the main focus from academics and behavioral achievements to other goals.
- A student may be placed in another school with more resources and specialized teachers.
- A student may be placed in a general education environment with accommodations for special education to master skills in other fields despite limited skills in certain areas.
- Placing a student in a special school.
Importance of RTI To Individuals with Learning Disabilities
The RTI approach has several benefits for people with learning disabilities because it focuses on the outcome of students and increases accountability for all students within general and special education. RTI promotes shared responsibility between general educators and special educators, related service personnel, and parents of learners.
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