How can Tier 3 intervention be conceptualized in the RTI approach?

Page 1: RTI Overview

rtiT3_01_gotAnFResponse to Intervention (RTI) is a multi-tiered approach for delivering instruction through increasingly intensive levels of interventions. RTI serves two primary purposes:

  • To provide early intervening services to struggling students
  • To identify students with learning disabilities

The most common RTI model is one conceptualized as having three tiers. The table below outlines the components of this three-tiered approach to RTI.

Universal screening All students undergo a brief screening measure. This assessment is given one to three times per year (i.e., in the fall, winter, and spring). Through it, students at risk for academic failure are identified.
Tier 1
Primary or class-wide intervention
Students receive high-quality instruction (i.e., through validated practices) in the general education setting. Teachers frequently (e.g., every one to two weeks) monitor the progress of struggling students who have been identified through the universal screening process. (Note: In some approaches, universal screening is considered to be part of Tier 1.)
Tier 2
Secondary or targeted intervention
Students who are not making adequate progress receive different or additional support from either the classroom teacher or another educational professional. Teachers continue to frequently monitor student progress.
Tier 3
Tertiary or intensive individualized intervention
Students whose progress is still insufficient in Tier 2 receive even more intensive and individualized instruction. Such instruction is provided through special education services. Depending on a state’s or district’s policies, some schools may implement a four-tiered model, in which case Tier 3 intervention is provided through the general education program and Tier 4 is provided through the special education program.

Each of the three tiers includes the following elements:

Elements of RTI Common to All Tiers

  • High-quality instruction
  • Frequent progress monitoring
  • Data-based decision making

Together, these elements create a strong instructional foundation for all students: Struggling students receive the additional instructional support they need to catch up with their peers and to succeed in the general education classroom, and students with specific learning disabilities can be identified in the early grades.

Adult MeetingIf it’s to be successful, the RTI approach requires shared responsibility and increased accountability for student learning. These goals can be achieved through greater collaboration among school leaders, teachers, and parents. In particular, the success of RTI depends on the ability of general educators and special educators to work closely together.

For Your Information

Communication with parents or guardians, important throughout the RTI process, is required once students are referred for special education services. Early in the RTI process, school personnel should supply general information to families regarding the goals of the RTI approach and about potential ways that they might be involved in their children’s education. By engaging in frequent and personal communication with parents, school personnel will be better prepared to meet the educational needs of all children, and families will stay informed regarding their children’s progress.

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