Response to Instruction and Intervention (RtII) is a multi-step approach to helping each individual student reach his or her maximum potential. RtII is designed to help students who struggle with learning to read get the assistance they need in the form of research-based instructional interventions applied at increasing levels of intensity. It is also designed to address the needs of students who are performing at grade level by providing enrichment activities in reading and writing.
The RtII process is designed to identify students before they experience academic failure and frustration. In order to identify those students who need assistance, universal screenings (also called "benchmark assessments") are given three times a year in grades kindergarten through four. These assessments are meant to measure a student’s ability to learn, as opposed to assessing a student’s retention of material that has been previously taught. Assessment teams at the elementary schools administer these benchmark assessments three times per year, and each individual student’s progress is closely monitored by teachers and administrators.
The varying levels of intensity in instruction and intervention programs within the RtII process are described as “tiers.” Students who meet grade level expectations are in Tier One. Students needing additional interventions in order to reach grade level benchmarks are in Tier Two. Students in Tier Two are given small group instruction using research-based instructional methods and tools designed especially for them. Students who need more intensive instruction, meaning instruction targeted at individual literacy skills provided in a smaller group setting, are in Tier Three.
The key to these groupings is flexibility. We know that students learn at differing rates, and it is not uncommon for a student to struggle for a period of time only to later reach the grade level expectations and get back on track. Thus, just because a student is in Tier 2 or 3 at one point of the school year does not mean he/she will remain there throughout the year. Groupings are flexible, and student progress is constantly measured to ensure that the programming is meeting each child's needs.
The information gathered by the RtII process leads to earlier interventions for children who may experience difficulties and enriches students reaching grade level expectations.