Response to intervention

Elaine Mulligan is the Assistant Director of NIUSI-LeadScape, a federally-funded technical assistance project that supports principals of inclusive schools.  Her responsibilities include designing and delivering professional learning, coordinating LeadScape’s online resources, and coaching principals to support their transformation of school cultures and practices.

In working with educators through our various projects, I hear a lot of different viewpoints on Response to Intervention (RTI). Many states are encouraging districts to focus on RTI approaches in an effort to improve state assessment outcomes for groups that have historically not scored well on these tests (e.g., students with disabilities, English language learners, students in particular racial/ethnic groups). Districts are implementing mandatory professional development and support teams, and schools are rechanneling instructional supports and redesigning schedules to support intervention processes. There is a lot of activity and attention around RTI, from preschool through high school. Some educators consider RTI a great success and report great improvements in student achievement, while others see it as a series of bureaucratic hoops to jump through that impede student support processes. Which is it?
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Dr. Janette KlingnerJanette Klingner, Ph.D., is a Professor at the University of Colorado. Before earning her doctorate in reading and learning disabilities from the University of Miami, she was a bilingual special education teacher for ten years. Currently, she is a co-Principal Investigator for The National Center for Culturally Responsive Educational Systems (NCCRESt), a Technical Assistance Center funded to address the disproportionate representation of culturally and linguistically diverse students in special education, and a co-Principal Investigator on the Collaborative Strategic Reading (CSR) Project, an IES funded efficacy study. Of her more than 80 published works, one article, three chapters, and two books are on the topic of Response to Intervention (RtI). An additional book on RtI for practitioners is under contract and in preparation. She has presented at numerous local, national, and international conferences, and conducted several professional development workshops, many on the topic of RtI. She is a member of numerous professional organizations in special education, literacy, bilingual education, and multicultural education. In 2004 she was honored with AERA’s Early Career Award for outstanding research.

Greetings! I’m so glad to have been asked to write on this blog because I really feel passionate about RTI. I believe that RTI has the potential to change the way we think about supporting kids and may especially hold promise as a way to improve outcomes for culturally and linguistically diverse students and reduce their disproportionate representation in special education (see Donovan & Cross, 2002). Certain aspects of the RTI model are particularly encouraging: the emphasis on early intervention, the focus on making sure children receive appropriate instruction at the “first tier” or classroom level, and the push to match instruction to a child’s needs based on ongoing classroom assessment. I hope that RTI will help educators shift from a mentality of finding disability or within-child deficits to focusing on providing the best instruction for all students, regardless of label.

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