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Response to Intervention—Tiers Without Tears

Response to Intervention-RTI interventionsSchools across the nation are working hard to ensure that all students are provided the best possible educational experiences during their pre-K through grade 12 years, and in doing so, are faced with enormous challenges. Even without taking into account such variables as the many dozens of language spoken by students and families and the impact of economic hardship, schools need to be increasingly effective in ensuring that all of their students, including those with learning disabilities (LD) and other obstacles to learning, have the best opportunities to succeed during their school, and be college- and career-ready upon graduation.

It's no surprise, therefore, that greater numbers of schools are embracing Response to Intervention (RTI) approaches all the time. Read on to learn why, and visit the RTI Action Network to discover common myths about RTI implementation.

Organizing Instruction in Tiers

While there is no single, sure-fire RTI model, schools that embrace this type of approach share some common features:

  • All students receive high-quality instruction in general education settings.
  • To the greatest extent possible, all instruction is evidence-based.
  • General education professionals and other teaching staff share active roles in student instruction and in collecting data on student performance.
  • All students are screened to establish an academic and behavioral baseline and to identify struggling learners who need additional support.
  • Student progress is monitored across the curriculum (not just in isolated skill areas).
  • Student progress monitoring is ongoing (not just one assessment or snapshot of scores at a particular point in time).
  • The RTI approach is most effective when documentation of effort and outcomes are seamlessly integrated into school-wide practice.


How does this approach play out in school settings? Successful implementation of an RTI approach to helping students includes at least these three essential components:

  • Multiple tiers of intervention (the most common number of tiers described in the literature is 3 but some models include 4 or more)
  • A well-defined, step-by-step method of problem-solving and trouble-shooting to identify precisely where students are experiencing frustration and failure
  • A procedure for collecting data that allows for prompt decision-making about what to do next to accelerate students' learning