Response to Intervention or RtI, is an outgrowth of changes in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation. Previously, children who struggled academically in school had to:

  • Fit the qualifications of a legislated category (special education, 504, English Language Learners) to ensure there was funding for extra services; and
  • Fall significantly behind before being served.

Response to Intervention’s goal is to meet the needs of all students at risk for failure, whether or not they qualify for a legislated program. Response to Intervention is an approach that promotes a well-integrated system connecting general, compensatory, gifted, and special education in providing high quality, standards-based instruction/intervention that is matched to students’ academic, social-emotional, and behavioral needs.

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) believes that increased student learning requires the consistent practice of providing high quality instruction matched to student needs. Response to Intervention (RtI) is a general education initiative that requires collaborative efforts from all district staff, general educators, special educators and bilingual/ELL staff.

As districts develop their RtI Plans by January 2009, their plans shall support a fluid model of response to interventions of varying intensity to meet the needs of all students. The overarching purpose of RtI implementation is to improve educational outcomes for all students.

Some basic underpinnings of this systemic approach:

  • It relies on the premise that all students receive research-based and standards-driven instruction in general education.
  • The learning of all students is assessed early and often (ongoing progress monitoring).
  • Assessment is focused on direct measurements of achievement and behavior.
  • If there are concerns about student progress, increasingly intense tiers of intervention are available to groups or individuals.
  • Individual student data gathered through the process may be used to determine appropriateness of a special education referral (e.g., in the case of students who do not respond adequately to intervention or who require ongoing intensive intervention in order to sustain growth) and as part of a comprehensive evaluation for determination of eligibility.

Progress Monitoring and Data Collection

RtI encompasses a three-tier process of increasingly intensive instructional interventions put in place in response to frequent progress monitoring indicating that a student’s academic and/or behavioral needs are not being met in the current instructional program.

Special Education Eligibility Considerations

When implementing an RtI process, school teams use student progress data collected at each tier to document a student’s response to scientific, research-based interventions as part of the evaluation process in order to consider eligibility for special education services. It is also important to note that a parent may request an evaluation at any point during this intervention process.

By the 2010-2011 school year, documentation of the RtI process became a part of the evaluation process for students when a specific learning disability (SLD) is suspected. After implementing an RtI process, a district may use a severe discrepancy between intellectual ability and achievement as part of the evaluation process for determining whether a child has a specific frequency with which that evaluation process will be used.

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