Breaking down Response to Intervention (RTI)

If you look inside any general education classroom, chances are you will experience different students struggling for different reasons. It can be difficult for a teacher to tell right away which students are struggling and why. Through the years, Tennessee has implemented programs and initiatives to attempt to alleviate this problem – one being the Response to Intervention and Instruction model (RTI). This model aims to identify struggling students early on in order to give them the support they need to thrive in school. 

However, there are several barriers that prohibit many schools from utilizing this model to its full potential, including lack of resources, training, and funding. Below, we break down RTI and offer insight into how ALLMemphis can help schools successfully implement it.  

What is RTI?

The Response to Intervention and Instruction model is a multi-tiered approach, working first to identify students facing academic challenges based on careful monitoring of student progress and data. It then offers those students evidence-based, individualized instruction at different levels of intensity – separated into three tiers. 

All students in the general education classroom are in Tier I. Teachers do their best to deliver instruction that fits their students’ skill levels and how they learn best. However, there’s not always time to give kids individual attention. If a child is struggling, he or she will move into Tier II, which is considered the strategic intervention tier. When Tier I and II support don’t seem to help, children are put into Tier 3. Those students should be in smaller groups and get more time with their interventionist. Students who are in Tier II and Tier III still take part in regular lessons with the rest of the class and receive Tier I support. 

Why isn’t it working?

While RTI is required in all schools, it is rare to see a truly thriving implementation of the RTI model. In fact, the share of students truly receiving intensive intervention remains at 3-5%, despite the real number of students who need intervention being much higher than that. This is true for a number of reasons. The first is a common thread among the majority of problems afflicting education – lack of funding. A school without proper funding is not able to hire the staff necessary to successfully execute a RTI program, leading to fewer opportunities to appropriately respond to each students’ set of needs. Additionally, lack of funds renders schools unable to purchase evidence-based curriculum that works best in RTI groups and unable to properly train the teachers tasked with overseeing these programs.

How do we make successful RTI a reality?

In order to be successful, RTI programs need updated curriculum and materials, quality instruction from skilled educators, and necessary mentoring and professional development for those educators. ALLMemphis’ model checks all of these boxes. ALLMemphis partners with area schools to provide its teachers with training, ongoing coaching and mentoring, as well as our curriculum, Ditto Literacy. Helping schools implement more successful RTI programs takes ALLMemphis one step closer toward our mission of ensuring educational equity. 

Is your school interested in learning more about our approach? Contact us today. Are you a supporter of educational excellence in Memphis and interested in helping ALLMemphis continue our mission of ensuring educational equity for all students? Click here to learn more and to make an online donation today.