Students learn in their own way and at their own pace. Similarly, some students are able to quickly understand certain concepts, while other students may struggle. As a teacher, you want to challenge and support all students, while still making sure that those who may be struggling do not fall behind. This is where RTI comes in. 

What is RTI?

RTI stands for “response to intervention”. It’s targeted teaching to specific groups of students based on knowledge level. The goal of RTI is to identify students who are struggling, so you can intervene and provide support. 

While RTI was originally designed to support students with special needs, it is now used and gaining popularity across all types of classrooms and schools in the United States. This is because RTI helps provide more individualized instruction to students, and especially to those who need additional support. 

To provide this individualized instruction and intervention, RTI includes breaking students up into groups, or tiers. Typically, tier 1 includes the whole class, tier 2 includes small group interventions, and tier 3 includes intensive interventions for individual students. All students receive tier 1 intervention, while typically only students who need additional support with specific concepts move to tier 2 or tier 3. Teachers and schools monitor student progress, and students can move between tiers as needed. Within this multi tier system of support, students can work, learn, and receive intervention based on their needs. 

How is RTI implemented in classrooms and schools?

The first step to successfully implement RTI is understanding which students fall into which tier. Standards-based grading (SBG), is one way teachers create their RTI tiers. SBG is a system of education that focuses on understanding very specific concepts instead of simple letter grades.

Edulastic student performance summary. With this, it’s easy to split students into groups for standards mastery review. 

4th Grade Teacher Dena Morosin explains, “We used standards data from Edulastic to pull our math groups.” With an education technology tool like Edulastic, she can easily tie questions to standards and track standards progress. “We have our below grade level, on grade level, and above grade level kids”, says Morosin. Once small groups are formed (tier 2), Morosin can reteach concepts or review specific standards. Looking at the data, Morosin also can identify individual students who may be falling behind. Then, she can provide targeted intervention to them specifically (tier 3). 

In 2018 and 2019, Paragould School District in Arkansas outpaced growth in the state with RTI tactics. The success story began in 2017 when Paragould teachers and administrators came together to set a growth goal. To achieve this goal, they created a structured program to monitor and support students’ daily, weekly, and monthly progress on standards mastery. “Using Edulastic tests allowed us to identify which of the standards our schools were struggling with the most,” says Matt McGowan, Technology Integration and Math Specialist at Paragould. From there, close progress monitoring provided timely and successful intervention for individual students. 

In New Jersey, when Waterford School District implemented standards-based grading and RTI, they, too, saw similar results. Waterford has set up designated RTI periods where students can go to different learning centers based on their individual needs. Betty Scola, Tech-Integration Specialist at Waterford, explains that they use Edulastic’s Skills Report to quickly identify which students need intervention for specific standards. Students who are in “red” for certain standards go to stations that focus strictly on that standard, while students who have mastered all standards can work on an enrichment activity. Scola recently reported, “Our scores increased on standardized tests so much that our district was recognized as a leader in the state!”

Differentiated instruction and response to intervention

According to the ACSD, “Differentiated instruction and Response to Intervention share a central goal: to modify instruction until it meets the needs of all learners.” With this, differentiation and RTI have many overlaps and similarities.  

Differentiated instruction is flexibility in teaching style to cater to different learning styles. This allows you to provide several different avenues to student success on a daily basis. Differentiation can work within RTI. You can differentiate content in tier 1 of RTI, which is whole-class instruction, or in tier 2, which is small group instruction.

Digital assessment provides a natural transition to RTI

Progress monitoring is important for RTI. Quick checks in low-stakes settings can help you understand what students are retaining, so you can intervene, set up groups, and offer support. A solid online process can help you as the teacher save time and get immediate feedback on your students’ progress. 

In Edulastic, you can align your assessments to standards. This sets you up for standards tracking. Then, have students complete the work. Finally, look at the immediate reports in Edulastic to easily break students up into groups based on mastery. 

Whether you’re tackling the summer slide or the impacts of the pandemic, preparing for state testing, or simply keeping students on pace to graduate, RTI can help you identify and support students who may be struggling. The RTI process setup takes time, but the results are rewarding. This is a great way to meet students where they are at, to support the whole student, and to boost student achievement.

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