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Response to Intervention

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A Response to Intervention (RtI) approach is not new. RtI refines earlier initiatives in general education such as teacher assistant teams, pre-referral interventions, and problem-solving teams. With the reauthorization of IDEA in 2004, however, RtI is brought to the forefront of educational practice and service delivery as an alternative to the traditional approach to identifying students with learning disabilities.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 states, “a local educational agency may use a process that determines if the child responds to scientific, research-based intervention as part of the evaluation procedures.”

RtI represents a progressive intervention approach that identifies students at risk for learning difficulties, including those who may have a Specific Learning Disability (SLD), and provides early intervention with the goal of improving the achievement of all students. To that end, RtI also aligns itself with the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001.

Definition of Response to Intervention (RtI)

The National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE, 2005) defines RtI as the practice of providing high-quality instruction and intervention based on a student’s needs, changing instruction and/or goals through frequent monitoring of progress, and applying the student response data to important educational decisions.

Although there is no universally accepted RtI model or approach, it is typically understood within the context of multiple tiers of intervention service delivery for students with difficulties. In other words, students who are identified as at-risk through universal screening have their progress monitored and receive increasingly intense, multi-tiered interventions, which may evaluate in eligibility for special education and related services.

RtI models currently in practice may vary across LEAs and states. However, they use a generally similar structure with some common components. According to NASDSE (2005), three essential components of RtI are as follows:
- Multi-tiered intervention service delivery
- Integrated data collection/assessment system
- Data-based decisions based on a problem-solving model


Prior to implementation, strategic planning and staff development will be needed to address all of the following components. It is also important to recognize that the successful implementation of RtI hinges upon such prerequisite elements as building capacity and parent involvement.



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If you have questions, please contact the Special Education Office at the South Dakota Department of Education at 605-773-3678.






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