Know More About RTI

LIST 5373: Michelle Lytle, May 12, 2016

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Background Information

I currently teach sixth grade English Language Arts in a middle school in Plano ISD. I am certified to teach General Education EC-6, ELA 4-8, and Social Studies 4-8. I am seeking certification as a reading specialist.

This newsletter includes information about the multi-tier approach using research based interventions to work with struggling readers known as Response to Intervention (RTI). Prior to teaching at my current school, I was unfamiliar with RTI and the process of using RTI effectively. My school focuses a great deal on interventions but little is known about the procedures of using this multi-tier approach. However, little is commonly known in my school regarding the intervention past Tier 2.

It is essential for the teachers in my school to have a firm foundation of the screening and diagnostic assessments of RTI as well as using data to make decisions and continuing monitor students receiving interventions. For students who are performing below grade level, it is important for them to receive the appropriate interventions in an effective and timely manner. Therefore, this handout will benefit other teachers by helping teacher build a firm understanding of the purpose and process of using RTI effectively by providing information and resources to clear up any confusion on the nature of RTI as well as provide empirical data and tips for teachers to use RTI effectively and efficiently in the classroom. Furthermore, this handout will provide tips for parents to work with their struggling students.

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Ten Tips for Using RTI Effectively

First Things First: What is RTI? Why RTI?

Response to Intervention is “a process measuring whether a learner’s academic performance improves when provided well-defined, scientifically based interventions” (Mesmer & Mesmer, 2008, p. 281). This process is a multi-tier approach with three tiers to efficiently meet student needs. As the tier increases, the intensity of interventions increases accordingly. Tier 1 is core classroom instruction. The second tier of RTI is targeted intervention with small groups, and Tier 3 is intensive individualized interventions and a comprehensive evaluation of the student to consider if the student is eligible to receive for special education services.

For RTI to be efficient, it relies on teacher and school collaboration, screening all students prior to interventions, using diagnostic assessment and progress monitoring to assess if the interventions are benefiting the student. It is essential for the teacher to understand the three tiers of RTI and how to help each student accordingly. In addition, this newsletter provides tips for parents as they partner with their child’s teacher to help their student succeed.

Therefore, this newsletter will benefit other teachers by building a firm foundation of the purpose and process of using RTI effectively by providing information and resources to clear up any confusion on the nature of RTI as well as provide empirical data and tips for teachers to use RTI effectively and efficiently for the success of each student. In addition, this newsletter provides tips for parents as they partner with their child’s teacher to help their student succeed.

Tip 1: Solid Classroom Instruction

With Tier 1 focusing on core classroom instruction, it is important to provide “the highest quality core instruction in the classroom—that is, instruction that encompasses all areas of language and literacy as part of a coherent curriculum that is developmentally appropriate” (IRA, 2010, p. 3). It is essential to provide quality reading instruction for all students, which includes explicitly teaching skills and strategies and providing differentiated instruction to meet students’ needs (Denton, 2007).

Tip 2: Collaboration is Key

Working in isolation is never successful. To achieve optimal student success and to use RTI most effectively, it is important for collaboration amongst classroom teachers, parents, academic and reading specialists, and administration. RTI “leads educators away from operating within the “silos” of general education, special education, and compensatory education and toward a more integrated system of meeting all students’ needs (Ehren, Laster, & Watts-Taffe, 2009). Therefore, all staff members must integrate to meet all students’ needs.

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Tip 3: Screening - Use a Two-Stage Process

Universal screening the first step in RTI to identify students who could be at-risk; this is where prevention begins. Screening must occur two to three times a year and not be a one-time process. There are severe limitations to one-stage screens, and “recent studies show that a two-stage screening process can improve the accuracy with which students are identified for secondary prevention” (Fuchs, Fuchs, & Compton, 2012, p. 265). A two-stage screen process more accurately identifies students.

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Tip 4: Diagnostic Assessments are Essential for Tier 2

Diagnostic assessments help identify students for Tier 2 instruction and interventions; they are used to help identify a student’s strengths and weaknesses. A variety of assessments can be used including oral language assessments, running records, spelling inventories, and formal and informal assessments. Do not rely on one method of assessment, but rather “using different measures for different purposes can increase both the efficient and the utility of assessment information” (Wixson & Valencia, 2011, p. 467). The data gathered from the various assessments helps to identify needs and assess student progress (Wixson & Valencia, 2011, p. 467).

Tip 5: Progress Monitoring

How do you know if the student is benefiting from the targeted interventions? RTI requires progress-monitoring data to be collected to assess if the student’s reading is being changed by the targeted interventions and instructions. The progress-monitoring measures should be administered at least biweekly and be able to identify “small changes in the students reading performance” (Mesmer & Mesmer, 2008, p. 283). Progress monitoring can include brief assessments and graphing the student’s progress. For more progress monitoring assessments, please see the webliography for a site with progress monitoring resources.

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Tip 6: Use Data to Make Decisions

Data from progress monitoring is used to decide “whether students should return to primary prevention without additional support or whether more intensive intervention is necessary” (Fuchs, Fuchs, & Compton, 2012, p. 265). Data eliminates subjective decisions, and collecting data occurs at all levels of prevention. When using data, there needs to be an established procedure for making decisions.

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Tip 7: Have Regularly Scheduled Interventions

For optimal RTI success, establishing a routine of interventions is pivotal. Everyone involved in the process including the students and the parents must be aware of the intervention schedule. It is recommended for students who are receiving Tier 2 small group instruction must meet “three to five times a week for 20 to 40 minutes per session” (NAESP, p. 6). If data proves that the student is not growing in Tier 2 and needs to receive Tier 3 interventions, a student will then receive one-on-one instruction up to multiple times a day.

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Tip 8: Intense Individual Interventions

Students who continue to struggle must receive intense individualized interventions where data is continued to be gathered and “used collaboratively by teachers, reading specialists, school psychologists, and parents to develop more intensive intervention strategies” (Mesmer & Mesmer, 2008, p. 283). For students receiving Tier 3 interventions, studies suggest “schools should intensify instruction by focusing on fewer skills” (NAESP, p. 6). Furthermore, teachers should also include more instruction during interventions than what is received in the classroom.

Tip 9: Use Evidence Based Strategies

For each level in RTI, evidence based strategies are utilized. Evidence based strategies is legally mandated when it comes to RTI, but it is also important in providing interventions and monitoring progress and data. Empirically supported curriculum, interventions, and instructions are essential in providing the best practices. Without empirically support curriculum and intervention, it would be difficult to assess if a student is “nonresponsive because he or she is having difficulties, or because there is a problem with the core curriculum” (Kashima, Schleich, Spradlin, & Indiana University, 2009, p. 1).

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Tip 10: Implementing a School Wide Plan

For RTI to truly be successful and used efficiently in providing differentiated instruction and intervention, a school wide plan must be implemented. It is essential for everyone in the school to understand the purpose, process, and vernacular of RTI. A school wide plan takes years to firmly establish, but it starts with specific leadership within the district and the school to support every tier and its components. A school must start by “creating a leadership team that includes representatives from special education services to English learners, subject matter and assessment specialists, and classroom teachers” (NAESP, p. 7-8).

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Five Tips for Parents with Struggling Learners

1. Read daily and aloud with your student. It is necessary for reading to be modeled in the household; students learn a lot from hearing and seeing others read. Create a daily reading routine to help your student grow as a reader.

2. Vocabulary: Talk about meanings of words that your student comes across in schoolwork as well as in real-life examples. Even if you are unsure of a definition, look up the meaning with your student.

3. Establish a homework routine and review all completed assignments. People thrive on expectations and routines; set up a a daily homework routine where answers can be checked and discussed. If the work was all completed at school, take some time to review it with your student.

4. #1 Fan: You are your child’s encourager, cheerleader, and number one fan! Your child needs to know that you are proud of him/her and that you are there every step of the way to help him/her succeed!

5. Partner with teachers and ask questions. Optimal student success is found in partnerships between teachers, families and students. Communicating with the teacher and asking questions helps every member involved in the learning process.

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Florida Center for Reading Research. (2009). Interventions for struggling readers. Retrieved from

The Florida Center for Reading Research is rich in resources and information for anyone interested in reading research, reading assessment, and reading growth. The particular page above provides a plethora of interventions for struggling readers including more information about using progress monitoring to improve reading instruction. Also, the webpage offers resources to support effective interventions for elementary teachers. In addition to a multitude of supplemental documents, the site also provides podcasts and webcasts to give teachers more information on how to use RTI to support struggling readers. As teachers engage with students in interventions, this website will help provide strategies and interventions.

Meadows Center. (n.d.). Building capacity RTI. Retrieved from

Building Capacity RTI is a site dedicated to providing background information and resources pertaining to RTI; it is published by the University of Texas at Austin. The above offers a great deal of resources for parents and caregivers who want to learn more about RTI. There are at home activities, and the resources are provided in both Spanish and English. The webpage also provides a multitude of links for teachers and parents alike to learn more about behavior, instruction, assessment, using data, and implementing at a school wide level. Furthermore, the resources include research-based strategies, modules, and booklets.

National Center on Intensive Intervention at American Institutes for Research. (n.d.). Academic progress monitoring. Retrieved from

The above site provides two charts describing different methods to use for academic progress monitoring. Both charts include information if the method has convincing evidence, partially convincing evidence, unconvincing evidence or no evidence at all. Each method is a clickable link that provides more information. Even more, the methods can be sorted by the area in which it is used in. For example, a teacher can specifically look up methods for progress monitoring in regards to Oral Reading Fluency. For teachers, specialists, and schools implementing RTI, this site provides a plethora of resources, information, and research for progress monitoring.


Lipson, M.Y. & Wixon, K. K. (2012). To what interventions are students responding?

The Reading Teacher, 66(2), 111-115. doi: 10.1002/TRTR.01110

This 2012 article provides the reader with more information regarding RTI and interventions. Lipson and Wixson communicate the difference between remediation and intervention. The article provides research data indicating the key components of successful interventions: schedules, fidelity, and systems. Even more so, the article details the importance of materials and instructional techniques in interventions. This text is a must-read for teachers who are using the multi-tier RTI approach framework and implementing interventions.

Snell, E. K., Hindman, A.H., & Wasik, B.A. (2015). How can book reading close the word gap? Five key practices from research. The Reading Teacher, 68(7), 560-571. doi:10.1002/trtr.1347

A general area of concern in regards to struggling readers is vocabulary development. Students may be receiving targeted interventions for vocabulary development; therefore, the above article provides five practices based on recent research to help students grow in the area of vocabulary. The article provides empirical data and classroom implications about the following five practices to develop a student’s vocabulary: defining words, discussing new words, rereading, engaging students in retelling the story, and providing opportunities and activities for students to integrate the new words. Even more, the article also asks questions about the best strategies for vocabulary. For English teachers, reading specialists and intervention specialists, this article will provide a wealth of informant to help improve literacy and vocabulary for all students.

Woodward, M. M. & Talbert-Johnson, C. (2009). Reading intervention models: challenges of classroom support and separated instruction. The Reading Teacher, 63: 190–200. doi: 10.1598/RT.63.3.2

When it comes to providing reading interventions, there are a multitude of options including classroom support, small group, and individualized instruction. In 2009, a study was conducted amongst elementary reading specialist regarding the positive and negative aspects of classroom support and separate instruction. Although the research does not recognize one reading intervention model as supreme, it does convey that the best reading intervention models are found in the combination of classroom support and separated instructional strategies. For teachers and school implementing RTI and reading intervention models, this is a good read that provides empirical data, so decisions may be made to choose the most effective strategies for students.


Denton, C.A. (2007). High quality classroom instruction: Classroom reading instruction that supports struggling readers. Retrieved from

Ehren, B.J. (2013). Expanding Pockets of Excellence in RTI.The Reading Teacher, 66(6), 449–453. doi: 10.1002/TRTR.1147

Fuchs, D., Fuchs, L. S., & Compton, D. L. (2012). Smart RTI: A Next-Generation Approach to Multilevel Prevention. Exceptional Children, 78(3), 263-279.

IRA’s Commission on Response to Intervention. (2010). Response to intervention: Guiding principles for educators from the International Reading Association. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

Kashima, Y., Schleich, B., Spradlin, T., & Indiana University, C. P. (2009). The Core Components of RTI: A Closer Look at Evidence-Based Core Curriculum, Assessment and Progress Monitoring, and Data-Based Decision Making. Special Report. Center For Evaluation And Education Policy, Indiana University. Retrieved from

Mesmer, E. M. and Mesmer, H. A. E. (2008), Response to Intervention (RTI): What Teachers of Reading Need to Know. The Reading Teacher, 62: 280–290. doi: 10.1598/RT.62.4.1

National Association of Elementary School Principals. (n.d.). Early childhood education: Response to intervention in primary grade reading. Retrieved from

Wixson, K. K. and Valencia, S. W. (2011), Assessment in RTI: What Teachers and Specialists Need to Know. The Reading Teacher, 64: 466–469. doi: 10.1598/RT.64.6.13