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Running head:  RESPONSE  TO  INTERVENTION                                  

Response to Intervention Amy Martinez EDU 422: Public Policy & Special Education Professor Sharon Haddy November 11, 2011

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Response to Intervention For the purpose of this paper we will analyze whether  or  not  pre-­‐referral  approaches,   such  as  Response  to  Intervention,  could  deny  students  with  disabilities  a  Free,  Appropriate   Public  Education  (FAPE).    We  will  begin  with  a  critical  evaluation  of  this  approach,  as  well   as  discuss  the  different  principles  of  FAPE  to  determine  the  effectiveness  of  Response  to   Intervention.       Response  to  Intervention  (RTI)  is  often  misunderstood  by  both  parents  and   teachers  alike  who  sometimes  consider  it  to  be  a  “stalling  tactic”  used  to  postpone  formal   eligibility  proceedings  that,  in  the  end,  hold  no  true  value  for  students.    However,  that  is  not   at  all  the  purpose  of  RTI.  RTI,  by  definition,  is  the  practice  of  obtaining  student  outcome   data  in  response  to  providing  high-­‐quality  interventions  to  assist  teams  in  making   eligibility  decisions  (Bartlett,  Etscheidt,  &  Weisenstein,  2007).    Simply  put,  this  is  a   scientific,  research-­‐based  approach  to  solving  academic  and  behavioral  problems  in  the   classroom  that  seeks  to  identify  and  resolve  issues  on  the  front  end  instead  of  waiting  on   the  student  to  fail  or  be  labeled  as  disabled  to  receive  services.       RTI  is  set  up  into  three  tiers  by  which  students  are  categorized.    Tier  I  begins  by   serving  all  students  in  the  general  education  classroom  by  the  general  education  teacher  by   which  differentiated  instruction  is  delivered  using  evidence  based  core  curriculum.     According  to  AtlasIntiative.org,  students  who  received  their  instructional  needs  in  this  tier   are  about  80%  to  85%  (Atlasinitiatvie.org,  2008).       For  students  who  are  behind  or  struggling  in  an  area  of  instruction,  they  are  placed   in  Tier  II  instruction  where  they  will  receive  interventions  to  help  them  catch  up  in  those  


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areas.  It  is  important  here  to  understand  that  students  who  receive  Tier  II  instruction  are   also  still  receiving  Tier  I  instruction  with  the  rest  of  the  class.    Tier  II  is  designed  to  build   upon  the  differentiated  instruction  in  Tier  I.    For  instance,  if  a  student  were  having   difficulty  in  reading,  they  would  continue  to  participate  in  regular  classroom  reading   assignments,  but  also  receive  additional  interventions  at  another  time  during  the  day  to   further  work  on  reading.    Around  15%    (Atlasinitiatvie.org,  2008)  of  those  students  whose   instructional  needs  are  not  met  in  Tier  I  fall  into  this  Tier  II  category.      

The third  and  final  tier  represents  the  few  students  whose  needs  are  not  met  in  

either Tier  I  or  Tier  II,  and  this  makes  up  for  about  5%  of  all  classroom  students   (Atlasinitiatvie.org,  2008).    In  this  tier,  students  receive  the  most  intensive  evidence  based   interventions  to  specifically  target  their  academic  and/or  behavioral  needs.    These   interventions  can  be  given  by  either  the  general  education  teacher  in  the  general   classroom,  or  by  a  specialized  or  special  education  teacher  in  a  resource  environment.      

Now, we  need  to  understand  the  principles  off  FAPE  to  see  how  RTI  affects  a  

student’s access  to  a  free  appropriate  public  education.      These  principles  include  IDEA   defined  concepts  of  Zero  Reject,  Nondiscriminatory  Assessment,  Appropriate  Education   and  the  IEP,  Least  Restrictive  Environment,  Due  Process,  Parent  Participation,  and  the   Right  to  Educational  Achievement    (Weishaar,  2007).    A  few  of  these  principles  are  present   in  RTI  as  well,  such  as  Appropriate  Education,  Least  Restrictive  Environment,  and  Parent   Participation.    

Once a  child  is  determined  to  be  eligible  for  special  education  services,  an  Individual  

Education Program  (IEP)  is  to  be  created  specifically  to  address  that  students  needs.    The   goals  set  forth  in  the  IEP  are  required  to  be  measurable  and  include  research-­‐based  


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instructional strategies  (Bartlett,  Etscheidt,  &  Weisenstein,  2007).    This  is  the  same  in  RTI   where  data  about  the  students  performance  is  collected  and  an  intervention  strategy  that  is   evidence  based  is  chosen  to  be  monitored  using  measurable  goals  (Froiland,  2011).    So  it  is   a  very  real  possibility  that  students  receiving  special  education  services  might  see  some  of   the  same  or  similar  intervention  approaches  in  their  IEP  as  they  underwent  during  pre-­‐ referral  interventions.      

RTI also  utilizes  the  concept  of  Least  Restrictive  Environment  by  allowing  students  

to receive  intervention  in  the  general  education  classroom  unless  otherwise  determined  by   the  pre-­‐referral  committee  that  they  are  better  served  these  interventions  in  a  specialized   environment.  It  is  important  to  note  here  that  all  of  these  pre-­‐referral  discussions  and   decisions  are  done  alongside  the  student’s  parents  just  as  they  would  be  in  a  formal   eligibility  proceeding  (Bartlett,  Etscheidt,  &  Weisenstein,  2007).      

At this  point,  we  can  see  that  pre-­‐referral  interventions  such  as  RTI  are  very  

compatible with  FAPE,  showing  no  obvious  conflict  between  the  two  that  might  hinder   students  from  receiving  FAPE  in  most  circumstances.    However,  we  have  to  acknowledge   that  there  are  those  circumstances  where  there  may  be  concerns  by  teachers  and/or   parents  that  RTI  might  impede  a  student’s  access  to  special  education  services  that  they   feel  are  desperately  need.         For  instance,  some  teachers  or  parents  may  feel  strongly  that  special  education   services  are  needed  and  may  not  understand  why  pre-­‐referral  intervention  services  are   justified.    They  may  feel  that  skipping  ahead  to  formal  evaluations  is  necessary  for  the   student  to  receive  services  in  a  timely  manner.    This  is  an  area  that  is  best  decided  upon  in   each  individual  case  based  on  data  available,  however,  it  is  important  for  teachers  and  


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parents to  understand  that  much  of  what  goes  into  the  scientific  approach  of  RTI  must  also   take  place  in  formal  eligibility  proceedings.    Data  about  the  student’s  current  performance   must  be  evaluated,  and  the  evaluation  data  obtained  during  pre-­‐referral  observations  can   be  used  to  help  determine  eligibility  for  special  education  services  (Bartlett,  Etscheidt,  &   Weisenstein,  2007).    Furthermore,  there  needs  to  be  the  understanding  that  just  because  a   student  is  not  formally  determined  to  be  eligible  for  special  education  services,  that  does   not  mean  that  their  needs  must  go  unmet  until  eligibility  is  determined.    As  mentioned   earlier,  the  interventions  used  in  RTI  are  evidence-­‐based  just  like  what  is  required  in  IEPs,   so  the  student  will  still  have  access  to  high-­‐quality  instruction  and  intervention  that  may,  in   itself,  resolve  the  academic  and/or  behavioral  issues  being  experienced,  thereby   eliminating  the  need  for  more  formal  evaluations  and  eligibility  proceedings  (Froiland,   2011).    Simply  put,  time  and  efforts  are  not  being  wasted  in  the  pre-­‐referral  process.   Let  us  go  a  step  further  to  fully  evaluate  the  relationship  between  RTI  and  FAPE  by   quickly  discussing  a  scenario  where  a  student  does  not  respond  to  pre-­‐referral   intervention  strategies.    If  this  were  to  happen,  the  lack  of  response  would  obviously   initiate  the  formal  eligibility  proceedings,  however,  as  mentioned  before,  the  data  collected   during  pre-­‐referral  evaluations  and  interventions  does  not  have  to  be  duplicated,  it  can  be   used  to  determine  eligibility,  thereby,  in  some  cases  speeding  up  the  process  of   determining  eligibility.    An  example  of  this  is  the  2004  amendment  to  IDEA  that  no  longer   requires  severe  discrepancy  to  determine  eligibility  for  Learning  Disabilities,  but  can  be   determined  by  a  lack  of  response  to  research-­‐based  interventions  (Weishaar,  2007).    So   this  could  mean,  in  some  cases,  that  the  pre-­‐referral  intervention  strategies  can  play  a  very   significant  role  in  determining  eligibility.    


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In conclusion,  when  used  appropriately  and  according  to  it’s  defined  purpose,  RTI   does  not  present  a  circumstance  that  would  limit  or  impede  a  student’s  access  to  a  free,   appropriate  public  education.    In  fact,  the  findings  discussed  in  this  paper  lead  to  the   opposite  conclusion  where  students  needs  are  evaluated  and  addressed  using  high-­‐quality,   research-­‐based  instructional  intervention  strategies  based  on  a  scientific  approach.      


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References: Atlasinitiatvie.org.  (2008,  September  25).  Response  to  Intervention:  A  Tiered  Approach  to    Instructing  All  Students.  Retrieved  November  10,  2012,  from  AtlasInitiative  for     Public  Education:  atlasinitiative.org   Bartlett,  L.  D.,  Etscheidt,  S.,  &  Weisenstein,  G.  R.  (2007).  Special  Education  Law  and  Practice      

in Public  Schools.  Upper  Saddle  River,  NJ:  Pearson  Education,  Inc.  

Froiland, J.  M.  (2011).  Response  to  Intervention  as  a  Vehicle  for  Powerful  Mental  Health      

Interventions in  the  Schools.  Contemporary  School  Psychology  ,  15,  35-­‐42.  

Weishaar, M.  K.  (2007).  Case  Studies  in  Special  Education  Law:  No  Child  Left  Behind  Act  and    Individuals  with  Disabilities  Education  Improvement  Act.  Upper  Saddle  River,  NJ:     Pearson  Education,  Inc.    

Response to intervention  

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