Response to Intervention

As we look to individualizing the curriculum, we will start with Response to Intervention (RTI). The Response to Intervention (RTI) program is a tiered model of instruction that allows teachers to target students’ individualized learning needs and provide more focused instruction in areas of concern, as well as strengths (McAssey, 2014).

According to Gorski (2015), RTI is a multi-tiered approach to the early identification and support of students with learning and behavior needs. The RTI process begins with high-quality instruction and universal screening of all children in the general education classroom. Struggling learners are provided with interventions at increasing levels of intensity to accelerate their rate of learning. These services may be provided by a variety of personnel, including general education teachers, special educators, and specialists. Progress is closely monitored to assess both the learning rate and level of performance of individual students. Educational decisions about the intensity and duration of interventions are based on individual student response to instruction. RTI is designed for use when making decisions in both general education and special education, creating a well-integrated system of instruction and intervention guided by child outcome data.

Case  Study – Response to Intervention Issues

Maintaining academically challenged students in the regular classroom can be rewarding, but it can also pose some difficulties. The following is an example of how one teacher–leader handled a problem for a colleague.

Mr. Rusk, a new sixth-grade teacher, meets with one of the teacher–leaders, Susan Thomas.

Shortly after entering Thomas’ classroom, Rusk nervously walks around a few desks and appears to be very frustrated and down. “I want to visit with you about a student in my classroom,” he says quietly.

“Well, I’m glad you came to me,” shares Thomas smiling, hoping to ease the tension.

“So what can we do about these kids who are really struggling in math?” Rusk asks, wanting an answer but not expecting much. “I have a student who is just not getting fractions.”

“Well, that’s a tough situation,” shares Susan, showing concern. “We just started using an RTI program here at school. Maybe this kid would qualify. What do you think?”

“Gosh, hadn’t thought of that,” notes Rusk, now embarrassed he hadn’t thought about RTI.

Thomas smiles and reaches for her scheduler buried deep in her purse. “Let me get things started. I’ll schedule him in for testing right away. Also, let me check around and see who is already doing some RTI interventions. Maybe they can help.”

“Sounds like a plan!” Rusk says, breaking into a big grin and pleased to have Thomas as a friend.

The Challenge

Making sure the school addresses the needs of all students and follows federal guidelines is a critical component of any curriculum across the country. How can programs like RTI be helpful in addressing student academic needs?

Key Issues or Questions

  1. What are your impressions of Susan Thomas and how she dealt with the issue of RTI? Did the teacher–leader adequately address Mr. Rusk’s concerns? Why or why not?
  2. What are your beliefs about RTI? How much in-service should schools provide regarding RTI guidelines?
  3. If a principal meets with a teacher about RTI, what should be discussed? When should the teacher be first involved in the discussion?
  4. What are your feelings on state or federal mandated programs? Do you feel that RTI is a viable option for academically challenged students?
  5. What are some innovative approaches that principals and teacher–leaders might use to address RTI concerns? Identify specific strategies and explain why you think they might be effective.



A., Glatthorn, A., Boschee, A., Whitehead, M., Boschee, F.. Curriculum Leadership: Strategies for Development and Implementation, 4th Edition. SAGE Publications, Inc, 02/2015. VitalBook file.

Gorski, D. (2015, March 30). What is RTI? Retrieved October 17, 2017, from

McAssey, L. (2014). Common core assessments: A principal’s view. Principal, 93(3), 14–17.

Questions for Curriculum Leaders

●      What is differentiated instruction, and how does it help students with diverse academic needs?

●      What are some examples of current individualized programs, and why are they considered to be successful?

●      What individualized adaptive approaches are being used in gifted education, and are they considered successful?

●      What are some examples of specialized curriculum, and how are they enhancing the concept of individualization?