I am hearing more and more about "Response to Intervention" (RTI). As a classroom teacher, what is my role in RTI?

Schools are using Response to Intervention (RTI) more frequently to address the needs of all students who struggle with learning in the general classroom. You may already be familiar with the components of RTI because some school systems and states may be using processes similar to those of RTI. The RTI process may make a great deal of sense if you have been concerned about how to provide extra support to students who are struggling but may not be eligible for special education. In addition, you may have wondered why one student is identified for special education while another is not. These issues point to the importance of using systems in our schools that address the needs of all students, including those who have disabilities. In short, RTI is a system that brings general and special educators together to make better decisions about the needs of all students who are struggling in classrooms.

Factual Information

As noted in a paper by the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE) and the Council of Administrators of Special Education (CASE) , RTI builds on two recommendations of the President's Commission on Excellence in Special Education report, A New Era: Revitalizing Special Education for Children and Their Families:

  • "Consider children with disabilities as general education children first...In instruction, the systems must work together to provide effective teaching."
  • "Embrace a model of prevention not a model of failure. The current model guiding special education focuses on waiting for a child to fail. Not on early intervention to prevent failure. Reforms must move the system toward early identification and swift intervention, using scientifically-based instruction and teaching methods" (2002, p. 9)

The NASDSE/CASE paper provides a good overview of the core principles guiding RTI, the key components of the process, and the tiered levels of intervention. The paper also includes a discussion of the relationship of RTI to IDEA 2004. Also important, the paper clarifies the roles that both general and special education play in the RTI process.

Classroom Activities

No classroom activities are available at this time.


If your school is not engaged in RTI, talk with your principal about whether RTI is currently used or being considered for use in your district and/or state. Ask your principal to host a discussion of RTI and, if applicable, review your state or school district's approach to RTI.

Resources and Links