What s Response to Intervention?
Response to Intervention (RtI) is defined as a multi-tier approach to the identification and support of students who demonstrate difficulty with learning and behavior. This approach is used in schools to identify students, currently receiving high-quality instruction in their classroom that needs additional supports. The approach is broken in to tiers in order to provide interventions of increasing intensity and frequency as needed. Interventions may be provided by a variety of professionals including general education teachers, special education teachers, therapists, psychologists, and learning specialists. Progress is monitored very closely to assess if and how interventions are impacting the student’s ability to function academically and socially in school.
Three Tiered Approach
Tier 1: High-Quality Classroom Instruction, Screening, and Group Interventions
Within Tier 1, students are receiving appropriate instruction in the classroom with some additional support. The classroom teacher screens the class on a periodic basis to establish their student’s baselines and identify any struggling learners. Those identified as, “at-risk,” receive additional support within the classroom, i.e. additional 1:1 or small group conferences or increased scaffolding. It is recommended that this last no longer than 8 weeks before assessing if the “at-risk” child has made significant improvement or is need of additional supports. If the student does not demonstrate significant improvement, they are moved to Tier 2.
Tier 2: Targeted Interventions
Within Tier 2, students have already been identified as needing additional support outside of the classroom teacher. The type of targeted intervention is dependent on their current needs. Those needs dictate group size, type of specialist, and frequency of intervention. Often a specialist, including reading specialists, special education teacher, Speech Language Pathologist, Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, or Guidance Counselor, provides these interventions in small-group settings in or out of the classroom. This Tier should not extend beyond a grading period before the child is reassessed for improvement. Student’s who do not show significant progress are then referred to Tier 3 interventions.
Tier 3: Intensive Interventions and Comprehensive Evaluation
Within Tier 3, students are receiving highly individualized and intense interventions directly addressing their deficits. Tier 3 is often confused with Tier 2. In short, Tier 3 is individualized, occurs at a higher frequency, and with increased intensity of remediation. While the time frame varies depending on the child’s progress, and school decisions, it often lasts anywhere from 8-12 weeks. Assessment should be ongoing, using RIOT/ICEL to determine if a comprehensive evaluation needs to be completed and the student should be considered for special education services under IDEA (2004). If the student does not show significant improvement or appears to need a more comprehensive assessment a referral would be put initiated by the school or student’s parent.
The Role of an SLP in RtI
An SLP can be involved from the very beginning of the RtI process. Initially, an SLP can be used as a consultant, providing some strategies or tips for use in the classroom. Depending on caseload numbers and availability, an SLP may begin seeing a student for Tier 2 or Tier 3 interventions. While providing Tier 2 and Tier 3 interventions is the most challenging logistically due to scheduling, group sizes, and current caseload, Tier 1, in my opinion, is the most important time to get involved. It can be very challenging to discriminate between learning difficulties and an underlying speech and/or language deficit. However, students who have an underlying speech and/or language deficit that goes untreated will most likely continue to struggle and the gap in their learning may increase putting them farther and farther behind their peers.
How can an SLP jump in right away? One idea is to provide professional development to your school staff. How often do we hear, “Don’t you helps kids with their ‘R’s?’” Many professionals don’t actually know the scope of what we do and whom we work with. I didn’t know until I began my own professional journey from classroom teacher to SLP. To get you started on your planning, download my Speech Cheat Sheet FREEBIE here. It’s a great tool to share with your staff.
Once a teacher thinks there may be a speech and/or language concern, you can begin consulting, providing suggestions that can be easily implemented in the classroom. Having been on the other side, I understand the immense amount of work it takes just to provide the class with high quality instruction, forget additional modifications and support. Teachers are not and should not be expected to perform the duties of an SLP. However, you can provide them with what I refer to as, “easy to integrate,” tools that they can use daily in the classroom.
After spending much time researching and working alongside teachers, I developed an RtI Classroom Resource for use by teachers starting in Tier 1. This resource can be used for a student who may present as having a speech and/or language delay or a general learning delay. This resource includes interventions that support a variety of areas of speech and language, data collection forms, and printable prompts and organizers for use in the classroom. You can grab a copy in my shop or here.
Leave a Reply