Special Education

Survey of School, District Workers Shows Wider Use of RTI

By Nirvi Shah — August 19, 2011 2 min read
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Yet another study shows the growing popularity of response to intervention.

Response to intervention, or RTI, is a strategy that involves identifying students’ learning problems quickly and using a series of focused lessons, or interventions, to address those problems before they become entrenched. The intensity of the interventions increase if a student doesn’t respond. In this survey, full implementation of RTI involved universal screening of students at least three times a year, the use of clear decision rules to move students between tiers of instruction, and regular monitoring of students’ progress based on their learning needs.

In a survey of nearly 1,400 school- and district-level workers, 68 percent said they are either in full implementation or in the process of districtwide implementation. The survey showed that districts with 10,000 or more students were significantly more likely to be in full implementation than smaller districts.

GlobalScholar conducted the survey. The company describes itself as being comprised of the education solution offerings of Scantron, GlobalScholar and Spectrum K12. The survey was also sponsored by the American Association of School Administrators and the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, among others.

The survey also reaffirmed what other studies have found: of schools planning or implementing RTI, most are elementary schools. Among survey respondents who said they are using or considering RTI, 98 percent said they already use or are planning to implement it in the elementary grades.

Also, the survey found, a majority of districts report that putting RTI into place is a unified effort between special education and general education. In districts where the effort is coming from a single area, general education is a little more likely to be leading.

RTI has been credited with a decline in the number of students identified as having learning disabilities in recent years. This survey found that in 35 percent of districts, using RTI cut referrals to special education by at least 10 percent, and in some districts it was as much as 50 percent.

Something I haven’t heard about much: 14 percent of those surveyed said that RTI has been the focus of legal proceedings, such as due process hearings or official complaints.

Also interesting: 11 percent said using RTI has led to an increase in the number of schools in the district making adequate yearly progress under the No Child Left Behind law. That’s up from 5 percent last year.

A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.