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For Immediate Release: May 29, 2008
Contact: Mary Stadick Smith - (605) 773-7228

Intervention program adds pilot sites

Elementary schools in 17 districts will receive grants during the 2008-09 school year to implement Response to Intervention in reading. (See list below.) Seven existing pilot sites will receive continued funding to expand their current RtI programs into additional grades.

“The fact that we received so many applications to implement the RtI system is exciting,” said Ann Larsen, director of Special Education Programs for the South Dakota Department of Education. “All RtI practices are founded on the assumption and belief that all children can learn. It is our responsibility to identify the curricular, instructional and environmental conditions that enable learning.”

RtI is the practice of providing high-quality, research-based instruction and interventions in general education. It relies on frequent monitoring and measurement of student progress in response to instruction and interventions. It uses these measures of student progress to shape instruction and make data-driven educational decisions.

The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act provides districts with the option to use the RtI approach when determining the educational needs of a student with a learning disability. RtI uses universal screening of all students three times a year to determine benchmark. Frequent progress monitoring is done throughout the year to assess academic performance and evaluate the effectiveness of instruction. “RtI offers a comprehensive approach for identifying students who have difficulty learning and applying interventions that will help students improve academically – before they might require special education services,” Larsen explained.

Within the RtI multi-tiered system, students who require increasingly intensive interventions are assisted by classroom teachers, Title teachers or other qualified professionals. All of the interventions are strategic, scientifically based, and designed to improve student performance.

An orientation and online class for the new pilot schools will be held in June. Additional professional development will be held throughout the upcoming year. This project is funded with federal Special Education and Reading First funds.

School districts with new pilot sites for 2008-09:

Bon Homme






Harding County







Shannon County


Stanley County


Existing pilot sites that will expand their programs:

Brandon Valley Elementary

Groton Elementary

Lennox Elementary

Meade – Whitewood Elementary

New Underwood Elementary

West Central Elementary at Humboldt and Hartford