An Overview of RtI and the plan developed
by the State of Illinois.
By Stephanie Wascher
November 20, 2009
I would like to dedicate this primer to all of the teachers who strive
for life long learning, those that are dedicated to their jobs and inspire
others to learn. Also, I would like to dedicate this primer to Stephen
Jackson who helped me understand RTI.
Page 2 Response to Intervention (RtI)
RTI is an initiative that helps identify students who are considered at risk with
respect to academics or behavioral issues. This is an important topic for all
teachers because it involves all students and provides intervention strategies
and ways to target instruction for the students at risk. (Clark, Brouwer,
Schmidt, & Alexander, 2008)
Teachers may not have a lot of knowledge regarding this initiative. Some
districts provide extensive training to a few individuals and designate those
individuals as liaisons to teachers and staff within that district. Other districts
may be new to the initiative and therefore their teachers may not have had
training so the school may not have a knowledgeable person on staff. All
school districts in Illinois were required to develop an RtI plan by January
2009 by the State of Illinois. So if you are a teacher in Illinois, your school
should have a RtI plan that will affect all of your students in some way. Not
only does this initiative affect special education teachers, but it affects general
education teachers as well.
This primer was created in response to the RtI plan created by the State of
Illinois. Teachers need a resource where they can quickly learn about RtI. As
a teacher in Illinois, you will come in contact with RtI sometime in your career
if you have not already experienced it. This document will provide a teacher
with the basics of RtI along with why it is being used, specifics from the State
of Illinois plan, and concerns. It is meant as a general overview of RtI with
additional resources for teachers to use if you would like to learn more.
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This document is intended for general and special education teachers at the
middle school and high school levels that work in Illinois. It is designed as an
informational resource that would also be useful to K-12 teachers working in
any district in the United States. It contains some information specific to
Illinois, but is general enough for all teachers.
After reading the primer, the reader will:
Understand the general definition of RtI.
Know the reasons behind why the RtI initiative was developed.
Understand the concepts behind RtI such as the three tier model and the
problem solving model for decision making.
Have a basic understanding of the RtI plan developed by the State of
Know where to find additional information on RtI.
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WHAT IS RTI?
Response to Intervention is a general education initiative developed to pool
the school district resources together in order to match high quality
instruction to a students’ needs. In order to do this, a school district must use
learning rate over time as well as level of performance data to make
educational decisions regarding the student (Bishop, 2008).
First the legal aspects of RtI. President Bush signed the Individuals with
Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) where section 300-307 stated
that federal funds may be used for RtI initiatives. This meant that 15 percent
of the special education monies could be used by school districts for early
interventions (Fuchs & Fuchs, 2006). As stated earlier, the State of Illinois
required all school districts to complete an RtI plan by January 2009. Specific
information on Illinois’ State plan will be covered in the RtI in Illinois section
of this document.
What does Response to Intervention mean to teachers? The first part,
response, is the process of discovering if the students would benefit from an
intervention. In order to determine this, every student needs to be assessed
and then monitored. In turn, most of the assessment in RtI is monitoring
student performance and/or progress. As for intervention, it can be looked at
as focusing on reading instruction and multitiered instruction (Fuchs &
Fuchs, 2006). In order to explain it further we can take a look at the
components of RtI. Those components are a three-tier model of school
supports, a problem-solving model for decision-making, and an integrated data
On page 7 of this document is a diagram of the Three Tier Model. As you
can see the resources are based on the students needs. The intensity of the
instruction increases as you move up the model. Tier 1 being the bottom and
less intensive of the three tiers, includes core instruction to all students in all
settings. As you move up the pyramid, Tier 2 is aimed at students who can
benefit from interventions provided along with core instruction. The last tier,
Tier 3, is for individual students who will benefit from intensive interventions
along with the core instruction (Bishop, 2008).
The problem solving component is composed of four steps: 1) problem
identification, 2) problem analysis, 3) intervention planning, and 4) progress
monitoring. The purpose of this model is to match the instructional resources
Page 6 Response to Intervention (RtI)
to the educational needs of the student. A simple way to think about it is first
the problem is determined by assessing the difference between what is
expected of the student and student performance. After the data is analyzed, a
performance goal and an intervention plan is created for that student. This
goal will also state monitoring and implementation procedures. In the end,
the evaluation is performed by data monitoring (Bishop, 2008).
The last component is the integration of data. Since the RtI model is a tiered
model, it becomes progressively more intense with the monitoring becomes
more frequent. Tier 1 is a general assessment of all students and determining
students who could benefit from interventions as well as deciding the
effectiveness of core instruction. Tier 2 data focuses on intervention
effectiveness and the possibility of instructional change. Tier 3 data is
collected more often than Tier 2, but consists of the similar data (Bishop,
2008). It all comes down to the importance of consistency in data systems
used for RtI. Data collection and the systems used to store and collect the
data must be consistent across all of the tiers as well as be scientifically based.
Three Tier Model
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RTI IN ILLINOIS
The link for the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) can be found in the
Online Resources section on page 11. The state plan describes RtI and states
that student success with regard to the Illinois Learning Standards improves
when frequently monitored. The document stresses that a successful plan will
meet the needs of all students and provide frequent assessment monitoring
and analysis (Bishop, 2008).
This plan is for both general education and special education teachers. There
are a few considerations regarding Special Education described in the plan.
When it is thought that a student may have a specific learning disability, then
by the 2010-2011 school year schools must make documentation of the RtI
process part of the evaluation for that student. Schools may be implementing
this now and they may use it for eligibility considerations in other disability
areas, but it must be fully implemented by next year (Bishop, 2008).
A guideline for RtI funding was provided as well. Federal and state funds may
be used for RtI. Of the usable Federal IDEA monies, Illinois school districts
are required to use 5 percent of those monies for professional development.
They can use up to 15 percent of the IDEA monies for supporting
implementation of RtI. The state specifies that the funds can be used for
professional development for teachers and staff, information and training for
parents, and provide educational and behavior assessments, services and
supports. As for state funds, ISBE will continue to search for funding
opportunities and notify districts when those opportunities arise (Bishop,
The state plan also includes an evaluation plan for the RtI process. The RtI
plan stated some of the areas of evaluation are as follows: skill development
and implementation of educators; satisfaction of educators and parents based
on survey results; evaluation of training and technical assistance; impact on
students on the achievement, behavior, referral rates, disproportionality rates,
drop out rates, graduation rates, attendance, special education placement
rates, and retention; and the relationship between implementation integrity
and student outcomes (Bishop, 2008). When looking at the evaluation items
regarding the impact the intervention has on the students, we can just imagine
what the impact may be without the interventions for students . Also, knowing
the data required by the State helps to understand the data that needs to be
collected and how it will affect the students.
Page 8 Response to Intervention (RtI)
WHY USE IT?
There are many reasons and benefits to using RtI. It enables educators to
target instructional interventions in response to student’s specific areas of
need as soon as those needs arise. It allows special and general educators to
collaborate in order to educate all students. RtI identifies struggling learners
early and requires data-driven educational decision-making for all learners.
Current research demonstrates that early intervention is crucial to a student’s
success. Before, the education system waited for a student to fail before
attempting more intensive instructional interventions (Fuchs & Fuchs, 2006).
Keep in mind that many students have been labeled as being a student with a
learning disability. As more and more students have been given this label, it
has become increasingly expensive to the school districts. As stated by Douglas
Fuchs and Lynn Fuchs, it costs two to three times more to teach children with
learning disabilities (Fuchs & Fuchs, 2006). If school districts can use the RtI
assessment instead of the IQ-achievement discrepancy as well as integrating
students with learning disabilities into the classroom, then they can save
money. It also helps the students that are given that label. They are not
segregated into separate classrooms, they are in the regular classroom with the
appropriate accommodations. Inclusion has shown to have a large impact on a
students’ self esteem as well as how their peers view them.
As with the reasons why to use RtI, there are many challenges or concerns
with it. Mastropieri and Scruggs brought up the following questions:
Are special educators or general educators responsible for ensuring that
the procedures are implemented fully and with fidelity?
How will RtI procedures apply in the middle school and high school
settings considering that a large number of students are identified early?
How will issues of consistency of decision making be ensured throughout
the United States?
How will a learning disability be differentiated from other disabilities if a
cognitive assessment is not used (Mastopieri & Scruggs, 2005)?
Other concerns are what type of technologies do we use to record the data, do
we need to dedicate a staff member to data assessment and entry? The answer
is in the data and whether the interventions work.
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Allington, R.L. (2008). What Really Matters in Response to Intervention: Reasearch
-Based Designs. New Jersey: Pearson Publications.
Bender, W.N. & Shores, C. (2007). Response to Intervention: A Practical Guide
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Bishop, F. (2008). The Illinois State Response to Intervention (RtI) Plan.
Retrieved from http://www.isbe.state.il.us/RtI_plan/default.htm.
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Response to Intervention: IEANA. Retrieved from http://
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RtI Action Network. Retrived from http://www.rtinetwork.org/.
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Wright, J. RTI Wire Website. Retrieved from http://
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Bishop, F. (2008). The Illinois State Response to Intervention (RtI) Plan.
Retrieved from http://www.isbe.state.il.us/RtI_plan/default.htm.
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Response to Intervention (RtI) Page 12