Let’s Put the Horse Before the Cart!


Before exploring progress monitoring and interventions, we must put the horse before the cart. That is, we must first look at Response to Intervention or what the N.H. Department of Education calls Response to Instruction.  In this post, we will briefly explore RTI’s history and New Hampshire’s RTI framework (frameworks vary slightly state-to-state).

A Little RTI History: 

The RTI practice stemmed from Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This law was passed in 1997 to ensure schools were held accountable and that academic progress was occurring. In 2004, IDEA was reauthorized to further the push for results in students progress and increase funding (5% to 15%). Also, individuals are now able to qualify for Special Education by their response to interventions. In the past, students would qualify for Special Education “based on the discrepancy between academic achievement and intellectual ability” (Buffum, Mattos, Weber, 18) Thus, educators use a framework to closely observe students struggling and provide interventions prior to referral (Buffman, Mattos, Webber, 2008).

What is RTI?

Response to Intervention is a practice used to ensure two aspects of teaching:

1. High-quality instruction and interventions meet the needs of learners.

2. Rate of academic growth and levels of performance is used to guide instructional decisions (Buffman, Mattos, Webber, 14).

The RTI framework is based on a three tier model.


Figure 3. http://education.nh.gov/innovations/rti/documents/framework.pdf

A Brief Look at the 3 Tiers:

As seen in the above figure, New Hampshire’s Response to Instruction (RTI) triangle has 3 tiers.

Tier I includes:

– Core instruction and universal interventions for all students.

– Universal interventions include flexible grouping, learning centers, scaffolding, peer tutoring, enrichment or extensions, differentiation, reteaching, and additional practice (Integrated Instructional Framework for Transformation: NH Response to Instruction Model for Implementation, p. 10).

– Universal screening for all to identify at-risk students and those who surpass benchmarks.

Tier II  includes:

– Additional explicit and systematic instruction aligned with Tier I core instruction.

– Targeted skill instruction to students not making adequate growth or meeting benchmarks.

– Interventions that are differentiated and scaffolded based on student’s targeted skill.

– Progress monitoring to track growth, level of performance and effectiveness of intervention/instruction.

– Instruction that is provided by highly qualified staff

Tier III includes:

– Instruction for students with severe academic needs and students who have not made adequate growth at Tier II.

– Instruction that is systematic, more intensive and closely aligned with student’s needs.

– Frequent progress monitoring to track growth, level of performance and effectiveness of intervention/instruction.

– Instruction provided is delivered by highly trained staff.

In conclusion, Tier 1 provides instruction for all students. As universal screening data is analyzed, slow-to-respond or non-responsive students receive more intensive and individualized interventions/instruction based on targeted skills. After analysis of progress monitoring data of Tier II students, a small percentage may need more intensive Tier III instruction due to persistent and sever academic needs.

Now that we have put the horse before the cart, we can explore interventions and progress monitoring in future blog posts.

Please feel free to post thoughts and questions pertaining to the tiers of RTI.


A. Buffum, M. Mattos & C. Webber. Pyramid Response to Intervention. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree, 2008, Print.

New Hampshire Department of Education. Integrated Instructional Framework for Transformation: NH Response to Instruction Model for Implementation. September 2013.  Web. February 8, 2015. (http://education.nh.gov/innovations/rti/documents/framework.pdf).


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