Responses to RTI – The Chicago School Reviews

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Responses to RTI
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It is no secret or surprise that many students struggle with the standard curriculum at any school. While this does not necessarily indicate a specific learning disability, it does mean that students who struggle need extra support.
A form of support that has taken off over the course of the past decade is Response to Intervention, or RTI.  RTI holds at its core a series of assumptions, summarized by the following bullet points:
  • Decisions about individual children’s educational interventions should be made based on carefully analyzed data and data-driven progress monitoring.
  • Schools should, to the best of their ability, only use research-based interventions.
  • If children who need intervention do not receive support early on, then their learning issue may get out of hand and turn into a larger issue that cannot be reigned back in.
  • Children should be categorized into multiple “tiers” of educational needs and this model should be implemented accordingly.
Ultimately, the developers of RTI methods believe that the education system, as it stands, does in fact have the ability to effectively teach every single student. By splitting struggling students into levels, or tiers, of needed support, the developers of RTI methods purport that all students’ needs can and will be met. Tier 1 is whole-classroom education, while Tiers 2 and 3 deal with small group interventions or one-on-one sessions meant to be used as a supplement to special education.
An article by the National Institute of Health, however, presents a number of critiques of currently used RTI programs. For example, the developers of RTI programs claim that they are proven to work because they are highly research-based. However, critics of RTI say that researchers of RTI methods have not studied its effects on a large enough scale. Critics believe that the implementation of a small-scale method on a large scale – that is to say, for many programs, nationwide – is not based on quite enough research.
While RTI was not initially developed to assess children for learning disabilities, it now serves that function in many public schools. Critics believe, however, that using RTI to determine whether or not students deal with a specific learning disability can be extremely fallible. They caution that the effects of RTI have not been adequately assessed across a number of categories of students, including English language learners and various ethnic groups. Additionally, when students fail to respond well to RTI, does it necessarily mean that they have a learning disability? There is no certain answer coming from those who have developed RTI methods.
Still, though, when well-implemented and carefully shaped RTI methods come into the classroom, many students do benefit greatly. This shows that RTI does have a lot of potential to be useful. Critics recommend more research.
See this article published by the National Institute of Health for a more in-depth response to RTI.
PDF version of the article on The Chicago School Reviews