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Response to intervention : strengths, weaknesses, and future pathways

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Response to intervention : strengths, weaknesses, and future pathways
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Murray, Kaitlyn
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Response to Intervention: Strengths. Weaknesses, and Future Pathways
by Kaitlyn Murray
An undergraduate thesis submitted in partial completion of the Metropolitan State University of Denver Honors Program
December 2015
Dr. Peggy Anderson
Dr. Diane Carroll Dr. Megan Hughes-Zarzo
Primary Advisor
Second Reader
Honors Program Director


Running Head: RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION
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Response to Intervention: Strengths, Weaknesses, and Future Pathways Kaitlyn M. Murray
Metropolitan State University of Denver


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Abstract
Response to intervention is an educational system used in schools throughout the United States as a means to assist students who have fallen behind. The system moves a student through three different tiers in order to find the right level of intervention based on the students needs. Every student begins in Tier 1, the students who need additional help move on to Tier 2, and the students who learn better in a one-on-one environment and need the most support move on to Tier 3. Although all students benefit from the components of response to intervention, the systems primary function identifies students with learning disabilities. This paper will review the history, design, strengths, weaknesses, and the future of response to intervention.
Keywords: Response to intervention, Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3, and multi-tiered systems of support


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Schools in the United States have implemented the response to intervention (RTI) approach to identify students who need additional academic assistance in the classroom. Response to intervention is a multi-tiered intervention system implemented in the general education classroom with the possibility of special education. Although RTI can be seen as a means of helping all students and transcending across the lines of general education and special education (Hollenbeck, 2007), this paper will focus on RTI as a diagnostic tool for learning disabilities, identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the process, as well as examining future pathways the process might take.
History and Laws
Prior to the implementation of response to intervention, United States schools utilized other models to identify students with learning disabilities. The IQ-achievement discrepancy model appeared in federal regulations for education in 1977 (Restori, Gresham, & Cook, 2008). The IQ-achievement discrepancy model required a significant difference between a students IQ and academic achievement before receiving additional academic assistance (Turse & Albrecht, 2015). In order to determine the severity of the discrepancy, the difference between the students ability level and achievement level had to be evaluated (Lemer, 2003). To evaluate the difference, standardized tests were applied to test the students cognitive ability and academic achievement. The scores were then used in a specific formula to analyze the students discrepancy based on IQ and achievement scores (Cohen & Swerdlik, 2005). Although the model identified many students there were several large problems.
One of the biggest problems with the model was many students had to wait until third grade and already be academically behind to manifest the IQ-discrepancy (Turse & Albrecht, 2015). Another challenge was the fact that no set guidelines were put into place in regards to


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implementation or structure, so states could create their own discrepancy formula/model (Turse & Albrecht, 2015). The increased probability of over-identifying or under-identifying students of color, low socio-economic status, and/or limited English proficiency made the model a problem as well. Another difficulty occurred because of the lack of methods to prove whether a student received adequate evidenced-based instruction or if the student had a learning disability (A1 Otaiba, Wagner, & Miller, 2014). Also, none of the assessments used to determine the IQ discrepancy guided teachers with data to decide what types of interventions to implement (A1 Otaiba, et al., 2014). In addition there is scant validity and reliability of the model for identifying a student with a learning disability (Restori, et al., 2008). The model only measures a students academic ability one time with a single assessment, which means there is no reliability behind the model. The IQ-discrepancy model lacked the ability to adequately identify students universally based on educational need and required a shift in methodology.
Fuchs and Fuchs (1998) presented the idea of shifting away from the IQ-Discrepancy model into a treatment validity model, which examines whether a system truly measures what it is supposed to do over a period of time. In their case Fuchs and Fuchs decided to prove the validity behind increasing the potential of a general education setting before introducing special education services. The proposal for the treatment validity model began because of the overrepresentation of minority students with learning disabilities in special education (Fuchs & Fuchs, 1998). A treatment validity model only considers special education when a student performs much lower than his/her peers and has a drastically lower learning rate than his/her peers (known as a dual discrepancy) (Fuchs & Fuchs, 1998). Fuchs and Fuchs explained the reason behind using a dual discrepancy. The first reason states since all students perform at different levels, a low-performing student will still learn, but have difficulty proving his/her


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learning. The second rationale expresses a low-performing student would not benefit from additional interventions because the learning rate matches his/her peers. However, if a low-performing student does not show any growth, then additional interventions should be attempted. Finally, if all of the students in a class do not show academic growth, the classroom environment must be examined and an entire classroom intervention may need to be tried (Fuchs & Fuchs, 1998). The proposals helped shape the idea of treatment validity and how it should be conducted.
The treatment validity model involves four phases with assessments used in each phase. The first assessment determines how all of the students in the class perform in comparison with other students in a different classroom as well as how students are maintaining the information from instruction (Gresham, 2007). The second phase assessment compares individual students performance levels against the class to possibly discover some sort of discrepancy. Once all of the students have proven they have adequate instruction, data from each student is examined to determine whether a dual discrepancy exists (Gresham, 2007). Data collection occurs for six weeks to determine whether the intervention has impacted the student (Gresham, 2007). The assessment in the third phase generates the database for enhancing instruction in the general education classroom and determining whether that regular education setting can, with adaptations, produce better growth and thus be transformed into an acceptable learning situation (Fuchs & Fuchs, 1998, p. 206). Phase three lasts eight weeks with the students educational team (general education teacher, special education teacher, parents, and other school staff) meeting at the end to go over the data and determine the impact of the more intense intervention methods (Gresham, 2007). The fourth and final assessment phase evaluates whether the student could benefit from special education services instead of interventions in the classroom (Fuchs & Fuchs, 1998). If the students educational team decides the intensive intervention has not helped the


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student, then the final assessment determines whether the student has a learning disability (Gresham, 2007). Overall, the four assessments must prove (a) a dual discrepancy exists between the students academic growth and his/her peers by at least one standard deviation, (b) the general education environment works well for all of the other students, (c) the student did not show adequate academic growth through the use of interventions, and (d) having the student in special education will provide the student with substantial academic growth (Fuchs & Fuchs, 1998; Gresham, 2007). The assessments, known as Curriculum Based Measurement (CBM), are still in use today. The curriculum based measurements, developed back in 1985, monitor accurate, effective, and assistive information for growth and better instruction for teachers and students (Fuchs & Fuchs, 1998). The treatment validity model proposal came seven years ahead of the federal legislation that now guides RTI.
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), signed into law by President George W. Bush was intended to help all students achieve their academic potential in addition to holding schools accountable for making adequate growth each year in student progress (Seedorf, 2014, p. 250). The ideas of NCLB and RTI line up well because they share the idea that students can learn and will not fall behind as long as student support exists (Kavale, Kauffman, Bachmeier, & LeFever, 2008). The introduction of response to intervention came in 2004, three years after the No Child Left Behind Act, with the revision of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The Act did not impose RTI on schools as a means of identifying students with learning disabilities (LD), but offered it as an option to use either with IQ-Discrepancy or another model for identification (Bineham, Shelby, Pazey, & Yates, 2014). The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act provides the options of (a) permitting or requiring RTI; (b) permitting or prohibiting evaluation based on a severe discrepancy between ability and achievement; and (c)


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omitting, permitting, or requiring a third alternative of other research-based procedures (Zirkel & Thomas, 2010, p. 60). This model identifies students early, prevents identification bias (actually identifying students who have a disability instead of those who require extra assistance in the classroom), and connects assessments with planning and progress monitoring (Vaughn & Fuchs, 2003).
As of 2009 only a few states have enforced RTI over the IQ-Discrepancy model; however, many states have decided to leave the decisions to each school district (Zirkel, 2009). The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act did state if response to intervention was chosen the school must write an evaluation for an eligibility report that must have specific parts.
A detailed description of the types of interventions used with a student, the data collected through the interventions, and documentation that proves parents were made aware of their parental rights, the amount of data that will be collected from the students, and the strategies discussed to increase students academic achievement (Department of Education, 2006, p. 46544).
Design of RTI
Response to intervention is a multi-tiered (three or four levels depending on the state) problem-solving model designed to identify students at risk for academic failure and/or behavioral difficulties in need of more intensive instruction than what they experience in the general education classroom (Sullivan & Castro-Villareal, 2013, p. 182). The support in the tiers increases in intensity only after a student has proven the inability to perform adequately within the tier (Gresham, 2007). In response to intervention, teachers deliver evidenced-based interventions while keeping track of students responses to the interventions and determining


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their academic needs (Turse & Albrecht, 2015). The delivery of the interventions can come from two different RTI approaches: problem-solving and standard protocol.
RTI Approaches
Response to intervention involves both problem-solving and standard-protocol (Gresham, 2007). The problem-solving approach follows a behavioral consultation model created in 1977. The point behind the consultation model is to define the problem in clear, unambiguous, and operational terms, to identify environmental conditions related to the referral problem, to design and implement an intervention plan with integrity, and to evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention (Gresham, 2007, p.14). Applied to academics, the first step explores the data to see if the student has a discrepancy between his/her performance and his/her peers. Then an examination of the data focuses on discovering why the student does not learn like his/her peers. Once the discrepancy is determined an intervention plan is put into place and after several weeks examined to determine effectiveness (Gresham, 2007). The second approach, standard-protocol, uses scripted treatment protocols that have been validated through research. The protocols expose students to other opportunities for reading, which is where a lot of students struggle because of either a lack of opportunity or understanding. The standard-protocol approach has not been used in school settings very much, but has been supported by many researchers (Gresham, 2007). In a school setting, the standard-protocol approach would serve well as a reading intervention for students who struggle academically.
Components
The two primary structures of response to intervention consist of several components. The main component within both structures addresses universal screening, which involves procedures to identify children at risk, the use of high-quality classroom instruction, the use of


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evidence-based interventions that are monitored for integrity, continuous progress monitoring of childrens responses, and modifications of interventions based on childrens responses (Gustafson, Svensson, & Faith, 2014, p. 28). Universal screening is the principle means for identifying early those students at risk of failure and likely to require supplemental instruction [intervention strategies] (Jenkins, Hudson, & Johnson, 2007, p. 582). To conduct universal screenings, curriculum based measurements (CBMs) measure student skills through the use of assessments that target specific predictive academic skills (Ardoin et al., 2004; Jenkins et al., 2007). According to Lenz (2006) classroom instruction can be considered high-quality when several characteristics are met. These characteristics include concentrated instruction for students who are struggling, teaching students critical thinking skills, strategies that can be used inside and outside the classroom, and supported instruction through feedback and assessment (Lenz, 2006).
High-quality classroom instruction can also be achieved through evidenced based intervention, which means strategies, practices, and programs are researched and proven effective (Williams, 2008). Progress monitoring also promotes high-quality classroom instruction and keeps track of student growth. Progress monitoring works as a formative assessment to gauge students academic growth and the effectiveness of the instruction (Vannest, Soares, Smith, & Williams, 2012). Before and during the RTI process, teachers keep data to ensure students learn the curriculum. Teachers use progress monitoring at each tier level in order to track whether a student requires intervention or achieves effective instruction through the use of classroom interventions (Hoover & Love, 2011). Progress monitoring provides the evidence needed to ensure high-quality education and movement between tiers.
Structure


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Structures for RTI vary between a three-tiered and four-tiered system. The three-tiered system is the most common, but a four-tiered model is also used in a few states (the fourth tier means special education) (Berkeley, Bender, Peaster, & Saunders, 2009). Statistically, around eighty percent of students should be taught in Tier 1, roughly fifteen percent in Tier 2, and only around five percent in Tier 3 when looking at a three-tiered system (Turse & Albrecht, 2015). Tier 1 of both structures consists of a universal design for learning, which means students are presented with information in a way most students can learn. Tier 1 includes evidence-based instruction delivered with high fidelity to all students and systematic screening and monitoring to identify students who need additional assistance (Castro-Villarreal, Rodriquez, & Moore, 2014, p. 104). Tier 2 includes more support and progress monitoring for students who did not respond well to the universal instruction provided in Tier 1 (Castro-Villareal et. al., 2014). This additional support in the students classroom is provided through one-on-one or small group instruction with the general education teacher (Gustafson et. al., 2014; Turse & Albrecht, 2015).
After the determination of Tier 2, a team is composed (general education teacher, special education teacher, response to intervention guide, etc.) to create a plan to provide the student with stronger interventions. Involving parents during Tier 2 can typically help with the planning of interventions by providing teachers with additional insight about the students lack of learning. Then the assessment of the new implemented interventions occur to make sure they work for the student or are adjusted to fit the students learning needs (Turse & Albrecht, 2015). Within the first two tiers, special education teachers provide support for the general education teachers by providing intervention ideas, but the general education teachers administer the interventions (Mitchell, Deshler, & Lenz, 2012).


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The most intensive level of intervention resides in Tier 3, which gives the student the most direct and individualized forms of intervention or in some cases a referral to special education (Turse & Albrecht, 2015). Tier 3 works in a one-to-one scenario; the student works directly with the special education teacher (Mellard, McKnight, & Jordan, 2010). A student receives the most concentrated evaluation of his learning strengths and weaknesses and the best individualized approach to satisfy learning need (Turse & Albrecht, 2015, p. 85).
In order to implement all of the components and the structure of RTI, Buffum, Mattos, and Weber (2011) suggested four guiding principles known as the four Cs of RTI: Collective Responsibility, Concentrated Instruction, Convergent Assessment, and Certain Access. Collective responsibility refers to the idea that high levels of learning are given to every student by every teacher. Concentrated instruction means deciding on the most essential components of higher level learning and also keep in mind the needs of every student. Convergent assessment indicates progress monitoring and keeping track of student growth as well as how students learn. Certain access means every child will be given the time and support needed to learn at the higher levels (Buffum et al., 2011). The guiding principles assist teachers with implementing interventions within the classroom.
General education teachers have the primary roles of implementing classroom interventions and moving students up and down tiers depending on students needs. Special education teachers intervene either during the third or fourth tier depending on the structure the school uses and the schools/districts definition of general education and special education (Mastropieri & Scruggs, 2005). General education teachers must assess and implement research-based assessments as well as interventions to guide students learning, which presents a huge shift from typical practice (Hazelkom, Bucholz, Goodman, Duffy, & Brady, 2010).


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Strengths/Benefits
Numerous benefits to the use of response to intervention make it a worthwhile process. The key strength behind RTI lies in the early identification of students who struggle academically (Bineham et al., 2014). Emphasizing RTI in elementary schools assists with getting students back on track and keeping them from failing and falling behind as much as possible. The earlier the response to intervention process begins, especially in reading and math, the earlier the student will be identified as having a learning disability and will receive the interventions needed in order to not fall behind. Another benefit of RTI happens in the large reduction of special education referrals resulting from more effective interventions; especially minority students and students who are English language learners (ELL) (Bineham et al., 2014).
One study conducted by Swanson, Solis, Ciullo, and McKenna (2012) asked special education math and reading teachers between 3rd and 5th grade in the same school district to provide their comments about response to intervention. Teachers praised RTI by saying,
[RTI] gives kids an opportunity they wouldnt have had at another campus. Some kids need extra assistance, smaller groups, more intensive instruction, but they are not eligible to receive special education services. So, it is nice that they can still be taught by us (Swanson et al., 2012, p. 120).
Collaboration amongst the general education teachers, special education teachers, administration, and interventionists was also stated as a benefit. In the Werts, Carpenter, and Fewell study (2014), some of the benefits listed included statements about students not falling behind, and gaining a higher instruction level. There were also statements about the decrease in special education referrals and mislabeling being prevented more often due to RTI (Werts et al., 2014). Special education teachers commented on how general education teachers were providing more


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differentiated instruction, modifications, and direct intervention for struggling students (Werts et al., 2014). Teachers shared their opinions on the benefits of the interventions; It makes regular educators really look at their teaching and assessment, and providing teachers with strategies to use with their whole class (Werts et al., 2014, p. 8). There was also mention of the collaboration amongst teachers and parents happening more often; Parents are aware of their childs problems and that they are an integral part of [sic] educational process (Werts et al., 2014, p. 8). Special education teachers commented that general education teachers were improving their teaching skills and teaching strategies. Comments such as accountability were mentioned frequently in the benefits section in regards to making better professional decisions about students (Werts et al., 2014, p. 8).
Gresham, Restori, and Cook (2007; 2008) identified many benefits to RTI. The most prominent strength transpires in the early identification of struggling students. There is no need to wait until failure has occurred several times over the years before receiving intervention (Restori et al., 2008). Between kindergarten and first grade, students are screened for any academic difficulties (Gresham, 2007). Using a risk model also means the level of intensity for instruction at each tier will depend on the tier level and the students ability (Gresham, 2007). Identification biases have also decreased due to RTI. Response to intervention is based on relativity (students academic performance versus average students performance), so the overidentification of boys, students with lower socio-economic status, and minority students are less likely to be referred to special education than in the past (Gresham, 2007). The progress monitoring required provides immediate data and shows positive growth. The direct measuring (progress monitoring) displays what teachers need to teach students either as a whole group,


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small group, or individual instruction (depending on the presentation of the progress monitoring) (Gresham, 2007).
Restori, Gresham, and Cook (2008) have also explored the benefits of response to intervention. A student must show a need to receive assistance in response to intervention. The problem-solving approach within RTI allows teachers to analyze and pinpoint what the student needs, provide various intervention methods, and collect the students data to track progress (progress monitoring) (Restori et al., 2008). The assessment process ingrained in the RTI process, proves the reliability and validity behind the method. The research-based assessments help teachers find an intervention method that will match the students needs (Restori et al., 2008). Another benefit is the focus on students performance outcomes. Response to intervention promotes a students change in learning and increase in knowledge. The progress monitoring is put into place to assure that a student learns and closes the gap between himself/herself and his/her peers (Restori et al., 2008).
Greenfield, Rinaldi, Proctor, and Cardarelli (2010) interviewed teachers after a response to intervention reading program was implemented into the school for a year. The elementary school, in the northeast, serves students from kindergarten to fifth grade. The school implemented RTI (three-tier) through a partnership with a university in the 2007-2008 school year. Teachers commented on several aspects of the RTI implementation. Teachers said the data from the progress monitoring helped with driving and planning their instruction. One teacher commented [progress monitoring] helps me see if what Im doing is working. It helps me to see what students need more support (Greenfield et al., 2010, p. 52). In regards to providing instruction, one general education teacher commented on how targeted and focused the instruction became based on the data from progress monitoring. A special education teacher


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commented, With the data, Im able to target whats working and whats not, and I can continue to make changes based on what the data is telling me (Greenfield et al., 2010, p. 53). Response to intervention brought about more collaboration and communication between the special and general education teachers as well as students. The collaboration amongst the teachers focused on using the data to match interventions with students and created more positive learning outcomes for students (Greenfield et al., 2010).
Weaknesses/Challenges
Several concerns still need to be addressed in order to improve response to intervention and continue using the process in all schools across the United States. Along with the many benefits of RTI there are just as many challenges.
Despite increased professional literature addressing RTI, no consensus has been reached, but a variety of concerns have been reported...vagueness of a RTI definition, lack of defined measures and criteria used in the implementation process...lack of extensive professional development, and an overall need for more research on the development and implementation of RTI frameworks in large-scale situations (Bineham et al., 2014, p. 232).
As of 2010, forty-three of the fifty states have implemented response to intervention in some form (Zirkel, 2010). One of the problems with implementing RTI is the lack of guidance provided by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA). The act simply states a school may use a process that determines if the child responds to scientific, research-based intervention as part of the evaluation procedures of a LD (Bineham et al., 2014, p. 233). Several school districts still use the IQ-Discrepancy model or a version of both IQ-Discrepancy


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and RTI. Many school districts do not understand how to introduce and/or implement response to intervention due to the lack of guidance and research (Bineham et al., 2014).
Challenges Reported by Teachers/Description of Studies
Several studies have been conducted in order to receive feedback from teachers in various states who deal with response to intervention in their schools. Teachers mainly discuss the aspects of RTI that directly affect their practice: training, time, support, resources, and paperwork. The studies graphed the various topics into the five categories and took key responses, both complaints and suggestions, from each category to share. Castro-Villarreal, Rodriquez, and Moore conducted a study using one hundred teachers from a large urban city in the Southwest United States (2014, p. 101). A questionnaire was conducted with several different types of questions in order to assess teachers attitudes and perceptions of RTI (Castro-Villarreal et al., 2014, p. 106). Another study conducted by Werts, Carpenter, and Fewell sent out a questionnaire to over 3,570 special education teacher emails in North Carolina. By the end of the questionnaire process only 775 teachers responded with 211 commenting on the different topics (Werts, Carpenter, & Fewell, 2014).
Lack of Training
The Castro-Villareal (2014) study concluded that twenty-eight percent of the problem with RTI resided in the lack of training opportunities teachers received. Teachers felt they needed more training, specifically in the areas of interventions and what should occur in each tier. Teachers shared comments about the interventions such as interventions are not done with fidelity, and The various interventions needed can be confusing (Castro-Villarreal et al., 2014, p. 108). Some of the teachers commented on the lack of training in tiers said, there is a dispute whether there is a time frame before moving on to another tier and not knowing when


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the student needs to change tiers (Castro-Villarreal et al., 2014, p. 108). Teachers also commented on the lack of training for RE [regular education] teachers in the use of interventions, as well as the special education teachers, which indicates that administration should provide the training and many questions still needed to be answered in order to provide effective instruction (Werts et al., 2014, p. 6). They also made broad statements such as (a) lack of training in the use of proper interventions, (b) progress monitoring methods, and (c) use of assessment instruments when implementing interventions (Werts et al., 2014, p. 6). Teachers in the Greenfield, Rinaldi, Proctor, and Cardarelli (2010) study stated they did not understand what to do after gathering the data during progress monitoring. One teacher said, Progress monitoring, to me, doesnt show what intervention they need, just that what I am doing is or is not working (Greenfield et al., 2010, p.52-53). Another teacher said they were not sure what to do with the results of the progress monitoring (Greenfield et al., 2010).
Not Enough Time
Time played another key factor against implementing RTI effectively. Teachers felt there was a lack of time to plan, implement, and gather data (Castro-Villarreal et al., 2014, p. 108). One teacher expressed, When I am working with a small group, the rest of the class loses instructional time. Another teacher commented on the amount of time the paperwork and progress monitoring costs them at each step of RTI (Castro-Villarreal et al., 2014). There were also comments such as, Not enough time in the day to get it all done, Many teachers avoid initiating the process due to the time required, (Werts et al., 2014, p. 5). Teachers also commented on how difficult it is to teach and implement RTI interventions as they are, Time-consuming, especially with high teacher-to-student ratios (Werts et al., 2014, p. 5).
Few Resources and Little Support


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In the Castro-Villarreal, Rodriquez, and Moore study (2014), resources and support were combined in regards to teachers thoughts and comments. One teacher stated, There are not enough teachers to split the students into the correct groups to get the interventions they need Castro-Villareal et al., 2014, p. 108). Another teacher commented on the lack of support from RTI specialists. Others said they needed additional resources for students working below grade-level (Castro-Villarreal et al., 2014, p. 108). The resources spoken of in the Werts et al. (2014) study were about money, assessments, instructional programming, and technology to track data more accurately. A lack of trained personnel and expertise was mentioned often as well as the need for an additional person just to progress monitor students (Werts et al., 2014). One person commented [There are] not enough qualified staff members to work with all the groups, another commented on the lack of persons to do the paperwork and to staff the meetings (Werts etal., 2014, p. 7).
Paperwork
The fifth problem teachers revealed, resided in the amount of paperwork required for RTI. The teachers said, the need for constant documentation is difficult to keep up with, the paperwork involved in RTI is unmanageable and the various forms are lengthy and some are duplicated (Castro-Villarreal et al., 2014, p. 108). Teachers also complained about the amount of data collection, which involves the most paperwork. Some said, Teachers finding it is too much data collection, There is so much more the teachers have to do with the progress monitoring and graphing data, [It is] too hard for regular classroom teachers to manage if they have several students (Werts et al., 2014, p. 6). Some teachers said the forms were redundant and difficult to understand (Werts et al., 2014, p. 6). At some point in the future RTI will either be replaced with a newer system or the weaknesses will be addressed in order to improve RTI.


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Future Pathways for RTI
The newest pathway for RTI is known as a multi-tiered system of support (MTSS). The basis for MTSS comes from a mixture of RTI and positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) and integrates a continuum of system-wide resources, strategies, structures, and evidence-based practices for addressing barriers to student learning and discipline (Utley & Obiakor, 2015, p. 1). A positive behavioral intervention and support system promotes schoolwide positive behavior and tiered interventions in regards to behavior (Donovan et al., 2015). A multi-tiered system of support represents an evidence-based, system-wide change effort to build a comprehensive, integrated system of tiered support (i.e., core instruction with differentiation, supplemental instruction/intervention, and targeted/intensive intervention (Donovan et al., 2015, p. 253-254).
Within Colorado, the terms multi-tiered system of support and response to intervention are used interchangeably because RTI is seen as a learning disabilities identifier and a system of support for all students (Colorado Department of Education, 2015). A multi-tiered system of support in Colorado is defined as a whole-school, prevention-based framework for improving learning outcomes for every student through a layered continuum of evidence-based practices and systems (Colorado Department of Education, 2015). In Colorado MTSS is already utilized and over-riding RTI. There are six components that must be included in order to effectively satisfy the goals of MTSS: shared leadership, data-based problem solving and decision making, layered continuum of supports, evidence-based instruction, intervention and assessment practices, universal screening and progress monitoring; family, school, and community partnering (Colorado Department of Education, 2015). Implementing all six components


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ensures an effective system and one that ensures all students get the required level of support for their needs (Colorado Department of Education, 2015).
A multi-tiered system of support can be difficult to implement into a school system because of the complexity of the system. Teachers, school psychologists, and administrators must work together to implement the whole system effectively (Forman & Crystal, 2015). An analysis of the schools former system must be made in order to implement the new MTSS system effectively and efficiently. Using evidenced based interventions also makes MTSS more effective because of the demand to implement evidenced based instruction (Forman & Crystal, 2015). The evidenced based instruction is led by data based decision making and observed over several weeks to ensure the student is receiving the interventions he/she needs. Just like following along with the progress monitoring, MTSS support and training must be ongoing for all teachers in order to implement the system effectively (Forman & Crystal, 2015). The implementation process begins with the school psychologists, who play a key role in supporting MTSS and applying all of the systems parts within the school. School psychologists lead the MTSS programs and ensure the student receives the support and interventions he/she might need (Forman & Crystal, 2015). School psychologists and administrators depend on data collection to ensure success of the process.
Data drives MTSS in the same way it does RTI. The data collection proves student growth, determining what interventions may need to be used, deciding any changes within the system, and guiding implementation and support of the system (VanDerHyden & Snyder, 2006). Evidenced-based practices guide the implementation of MTSS as do the teachers who implement the interventions within MTSS. The tiers work in the same manner as the tiers in RTI do because
the data backs up the reasoning for the interventions at each level. Students start out in Tier 1 and


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move on to Tier 2 when the MTSS team has decided the student is not growing within the first tier (Witzel & Clarke, 2015). Tier 2 instruction occurs in a small group setting within the classroom for about thirty minutes four times a week (Donovan et al., 2015). Tier 3 intervention, if needed, occurs for about an hour a day, all five days in the school week and taught in a one-on-one tutoring session (Witzel & Clarke, 2015). In order to guarantee a successful MTSS system, teams made up of general and special educators, school psychologists, and administrators must co-operate to create target goals, build practices, and plan professional development to increase the potential of MTSS (Donovan et al., 2015). A multi-tiered system of support is an evolution of RTI that has yet to be proven as more or less effective.
Future Research
Although a lot of research has gone into RTI and the system has proven effective within schools there are still many questions to answer. The biggest question is what data supports the use of RTI? There is very little research to prove RTI is more effective than the IQ Discrepancy model. There is very little explanation in regards to how the idea of RTI began, who started the system, and what research was completed to prove the effectiveness and validity of the process (Daves & Walker, 2012). Another major question is when do students move up or down within a tier? Is there a time frame or does it depend on the amount of growth during progress monitoring? (Mastropieri & Scruggs, 2002). Teachers still have questions on how to know what types of interventions to provide and who provides the interventions at each tier level (Werts et al., 2014). Questions still remain as to how to implement RTI. There are no guidelines from IDEA, NCLB, or any other federal law on what RTI should look like in a school. Most states


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allow the school districts to decide what type of system they want to use (RTI, IQ-Discrepancy, or another) (Zirkel & Thomas, 2010). Response to intervention must be proven for effectiveness, enforced through federal legislation, and clearer on what interventions and tiers to use on each student in order for the system to succeed in helping every student and identifying students with learning disabilities.
Conclusion
Prior to response to intervention, identification of students with learning disabilities was based on the students IQ. The IQ-Discrepancy model was used for quite some time, but the amount of problems certainly outweighed the benefits. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the No Child Left Behind act encouraged the use of response to intervention as a means to help all students and clearly identify students with learning disabilities. Response to intervention has taken off slowly since the introduction in 2004. Countless teachers praise the system and love how much information is received through the progress-monitoring, how the lessons are changing with the data-driven instruction, and the amount of involvement amongst the students. Many other teachers struggle to keep up with the time, paperwork, lack of support, few resources, and the small amount of training. Using teachers perspectives to guide the future implementation of RTI would be beneficial for the system, school, and teachers. Questions still remain, many from the teachers, in regards to the use of RTI and the validity of the small amount of research that supports the system. In order for RTI to continue to be successful to improve student learning and identification, the questions must be answered through validated research, teachers comments reflected upon, the process enforced to all schools through legislation, and intervention methods, training, and support given to all teachers in every school throughout the
United States.


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Full Text

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Response to Intervention: Strengths. Weaknesses, and Future Pathways by Kaitlyn Murray An undergraduate thesis submitted in partial completion of the M etropolitan State University of D enver Honors Program December 2015 Dr. Peggy Anderson Dr. Diane Carroll Dr. Megan Hughes Zarzo Primary Advisor Second Reader Honors Program Director

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Running Head: RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION 1 Response to I ntervention: Strengths, Weaknesses, and Future Pathways Kaitlyn M. Murray Metropolitan State University of Denver

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RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION 2 Abstract Response to intervention is an educational system used in schools throughout the United States as a means to assist students who have fallen behind. The system moves a student t hrough three different tier s in order to find the right level of intervention based on the student's ne eds Every student begins in Tier 1, the students who need additional help move on to Tier 2, and the students who learn better in a one on one environment and need the most support move on to Tier 3. Although all students benefit from the components of re sponse to intervention, the system's primary function identifies students with learning disabilities. This paper wil l review the history, design strengths, weaknesses, and the future of response to intervention Keywords: Response to i ntervention Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3, and multi tiered systems of s upport

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RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION 3 S chools in the United States have implemented the response to intervention (RTI) approach to identify students who need additional academic assistance in the classroom. Response to intervention is a multi tiered intervention system implemented in the general education classroom with the possibility of special education Although RTI can be see n as a means of helping all students and transcending across the lines of general education and special education (Hollenbeck, 2007) this paper will focus on RTI as a diagnostic tool for learning disabilities identifying the strengths and weaknesses of t he process, as well as examining future pathways the process might take. History and Laws Prior to the implementation of response to intervention, United States schools utilized other models to identify students with learning disabilities. The IQ achievement discrepancy model appeared in federal regulatio ns for education in 1977 (Restori, Gresham, & Cook, 2008) The IQ achievement discrepancy model r equired a significant difference between a student's IQ and academic achievement before receiving additional academic assistance (Turse & Albrecht, 2015). In order to determine the severity of the discrepancy, the difference between the student's ability l evel and achievement level had to be evaluated (Lerner, 2003) T o evaluate the difference standardized tests were applied to test the student's cognitive ability and academic achievement. The scores were then used in a specific formula to analyze the student's discrepancy based on IQ and achievement scores (Cohen & Swerdlik, 2005). Although the model identified many students there were several large problems. One of the biggest problems with the model was many students had to wait until third grade and already be academically behind to manifest the IQ discrepancy (Turse & Albrecht, 2015). Another challenge was the fact that n o set guidelines were put into place in regards to

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RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION 4 implementation or structure so states c ould create their own discrepancy formula/ model (Turse & Albrecht, 2015). T he increased probability of over i dentifying or under identifying students of color, low socio economic status, and/or l imite d English p roficiency made the model a problem as well Another difficulty occurred because of the lack of method s to prove whether a student received adequate evidenced based instruction or if the student had a learning d isability (Al Otaiba, Wagner, & Miller, 2014) Also none of the assessments used to determine the IQ discrepancy guided teachers with data to decide what types of interventions to implement (Al Otaiba, et al., 2014). In addition t here is scant v alidity and reliability of the model for identifying a student with a learning disability (Restori, et al., 2008). The model only measures a student's academic ability one time with a single assessment which means there is no reliability behind the model The IQ discrepancy model lacked the ability to adequately identify students universally based on educational need and required a shift in methodology. Fuchs and Fuchs (1998) presented the idea of shifting away from t he IQ Discrepancy model into a treatment validity model which ex amines whether a system truly measures what it is supposed to do over a period of time In their case Fuchs and Fuchs decided to prove the validity behind increasing the potential of a general education setting before intr oducing special education services The proposal for the treatment validity model began because of the overrepresentation of minority students with learning disabilities in special education (Fuchs & Fuchs, 1998). A treatment validity model only considers special education when a student performs much lower than his/her peers and has a drastically lower learnin g rate than his/her peers ( known as a dual discrepancy) (Fuchs & Fuchs, 1998). Fuchs and Fuchs explained the reason behind using a dual discrepancy The first reason states since all students perform at different levels, a low performing student will still learn, but have difficulty proving his/h er

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RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION 5 learning. The second rationale expresses a low performing student would not benefit from additional inter ventions because the learning rate matches his/her peers However, if a low performing student does not show any growth then additional interventions should be attempted. Finally, if all of the students in a class do not show academic growth, the classroo m environment must be examined and an entire classroom intervention may need to be tried (Fuchs & Fuchs, 1998). The proposals helped shape the idea of treatment validity and how it should be conducted. The treatment validity model involves four phases wit h assessments used in each phase. The first assessment de termines how all of the student s in the class perform in comparison with other students in a different classroom as well as how students are maintaining the information from instruction (Gresham, 200 7). The second phase assessment compares individual students performance levels against the class to possibly discover some sort of discrepancy. Once all of the students have proven they have adequate instruction, data from each student is examined to determine whether a dual discrepancy exists (Gresham, 2007). Data collection occurs for six weeks to determine whether the intervention has impacted the student (Gresham, 2007). The assessment in the third phase "generates the database for enhancing in struction in the general education classroom and determining whether that regular education setting can, with adaptations, produce better growth and thus be transformed into an acceptable learning situation" (Fuchs & Fuchs, 1998, p. 206). Phase three lasts eight weeks with the student's educational team (general education teacher, special education teacher, parents, and other school staff) meeting at the end to go over the data and determine the impact of the more intense intervention methods (Gresham, 2007 ). The fourth and final assessment phase evaluates whether the student could benefit from special education services instead of interventions in the classroom (Fuch s & Fuchs, 1998). If the student's educational team decides the intensive intervention has n ot helped the

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RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION 6 student then the final assessment determines whether the student has a l earning d isability (Gresham, 2007). Overall, the four assessments must prove (a) a dual discrepancy exists between the student's academic growth and his/her peers by at least one standard deviation, (b) the general education environment works well for all of the other students, (c) the student did not show adequate academic growth through the use of interventions, and (d) having the student in special education will provi de the student with substantial academic growth (Fuchs & Fuchs, 1998 ; Gresham, 2007 ). The assessments known as Curriculum Based Measurement (CBM) are still in use today. The curriculum based measu rements, developed back in 1985, monitor accurate, effecti ve, and assistive information for growth and better instruction for teachers and students (Fuchs & Fuchs, 1998). The treatment v alidity model proposal came seven years ahead of the federal legislation that now guides RTI. The No Child Left Behind Act of 20 01 (NCLB), signed into law by President George W. Bush "was intended to help all students achieve their academic potential in addition to holding schools accountable for making adequate growth each year in student progress" (Seedorf, 2014 p. 250 ). The ideas of NCLB and RT I line up well because they share the idea that students can learn and will not fall behind as long as student support exists (Kavale Kauffman, Bachmeier, & LeFever, 2008). The introduction of response to intervention came in 2004, three years after the No Child Left Behind Act, with the revision of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) The Act di d not impose RT I on schools as a mean s of identifying students with learning d isabilities (LD), but offered it as an option to use either with IQ Discrepancy or another model for identification (Bineham, Shelby, Pazey, & Yates, 2014) The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act provides the options of "(a) permitting or requiring RTI; (b) permitting or prohibi ting evaluation based on a severe discrepancy between ability and achievement; and (c)

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RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION 7 omitting, permitting, or requiring a third alternative of other research based procedures" (Zirkel & Thomas, 2010, p. 60). This model identifies students early, prevents identification bias (actually identifying students who have a disability instead of those who require extra assistance in the classroom), and connects assessments with planning and progress monitoring (Vaughn & Fuchs, 2003). As of 2009 only a few states have enforced RTI over the IQ Discrepancy model; however, many states have decided to leave the decisions to each school district (Zirkel, 2009). The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act did state if response to intervention was chosen the school mu st write an evaluation for an eligibility report that must have specific parts. A detailed description of the types of interventions used with a student, the data collected through the interventions, and documentation that proves parents were made aware o f their parental rights, the amount of data that will be collected from the students, and the strategies discussed to increase student's academic achievement ( Department of Education, 2006, p. 46 544 ). Design of R T I Response to i ntervention is a multi tiered (three or four levels depending on the state) "problem solving model designed to identify students at risk for academic failure and/or behavioral difficulties in need of more intensive instruction than what they experience in the general education classroom" (Sullivan & Castro Villareal, 2013 p. 182 ). The support in the tiers increase s in intensity only after a student has proven the inability to perform adequately within the tier (Gresham, 2007). In response to intervention, teachers deliver evidenced based interventions while keeping track of students' responses to the interventions and determining

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RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION 8 their academic needs (Turse & Albrecht, 2015) The delivery of the interventions can come fr om two d ifferent RTI approaches: problem solving and standard protocol. RT I Approaches Response to i ntervention involves both problem solving and standard protocol (Gresham, 2007 ). The problem solving approach follows a behavioral consultation model created in 1977. The point behind the consultation model is to "define the problem in clear, unambiguous, and operational terms, to identify environmental conditions related to the referral problem, to design and im plement an intervention plan with integrity, and to evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention" (Gresham, 2007, p.14). Applied to academics the first step explore s the data to see if the student has a discrepancy between his/her performance and his/he r peers. Then an examination of the data focuses on discovering why the student does not learn like his/her peers. Once the discrepancy is determined an intervention plan is put into place and after several weeks examin ed to determine effectiveness (Gresha m, 2007) The second approach, standard protocol, use s scripted treatment protocols that have been validated through research. The protocols expose students to other oppo rtunities for reading, which is where a lot of students struggle because of either a l ack of opportunity or understanding The standard protocol approach has not been used in school settings very much, but has been supported by many researchers (Gresham, 2007). In a school setting, the standard protocol approach would serve well as a readin g intervention for students who struggle academically. Components The two primary structures of response to i ntervention consist of several components The main component within both structures addresses universal screening, which involves procedures to identify children at risk, the use of high quality classroom instruction, the use of

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RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION 9 evidence based interventions that are monitored for integrity, continuous progress monitoring of children's responses, and modifications of interventions bas ed on children's responses" (Gustafson, Svensson, & Falth, 2014 p. 28 ). Unive rsal screening "is the principle means for identifying early those students at risk of failure and likely to require supplemental instruction [intervention strategies]" (Jenkins, Hudson, & Johnson, 2007 p. 582 ). To conduct universal screenings, curriculum based measurements (CBMs) measure student skills through the use of assessments that target specific predictive academic ski lls (Ardoin et al., 2004 ; Jenkins et al., 2007). According to Lenz (2006) classroom instruction can be considered high quality when several characteristics are met. The se characteristics include concentrated instruction for students who are struggling, teaching students critical thinking skills, strategi es that can be used inside and outside the classroom, and supported instruction through feedback and assessment (Lenz 2006) High quality classroom instruction can also be achieved through evidenced based intervention, which means strategies, practices, and programs are researched and proven effective (Williams, 2008) Progress monitoring also promotes high quality classroom instruction and keeps track of student growth Progress monitoring works as a format ive assessment to gauge student s academic growth and the effectiveness of the instruction (Vannest, Soares, Smith, & Williams, 2012). Before and during the RTI process, teachers keep data to ensure students learn the curriculum. Teachers use progress monitoring at each tier level in orde r to track whether a student requires intervention or achiev es effective instruction through the use of classroom interventions (Hoover & Love, 2011). Progress monitoring provides the evidence needed to ensure high quality education and movement between ti ers. Structure

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RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION 10 Structures for RTI vary between a three tiered and four tiered system. The three tiered system is the most common, but a four tiered model is also used in a few states (the fourth tier means special education) ( Berkeley, Bender, Peaster, & Saunders, 2009) Statistically, around eighty percent of students should be taught in Tier 1, roughly fifteen percent in Tier 2, and only around five percent in Tier 3 when looking at a three tiered system (Turse & Albrecht, 2015). Tier 1 of both structur es consists of a universal design for learning, which means students are presented with information in a way most students can learn Tier 1 includes evidence based instruction delivered with high fidelity to all students and systematic screening and moni toring to identify students who need additional assistance (Castro Villarreal, Rodriquez, & Moore, 2014 p. 104 ). Tier 2 includes more support and progress monitoring for students who did not respond well to the universal instruction provided in Tier 1 (C astro Villareal et. al., 2014) This additional support in the student's classroom is provided through one on one or small group instruction with the general education teacher (Gustafson et. al., 2014; Turse & Albrecht, 2015). After the determination of Tier 2 a team is composed (general education teacher, special education teacher, response to intervention guide, etc.) to create a plan to provide the student with stronger interventions. Involving parents during Tier 2 can typically help with the plannin g of interventions by providing teachers with additional insight about the student's lack of learning. Then the assessment of the new implemented interventions occur to make sure they work for the student or are adjusted to fit the student's learning needs (Turse & Albrecht, 2015). Within the first two tiers, special education teachers provide support for the general education teachers by providing intervent ion ideas but the general education teachers administer the interventions ( Mitchell, Deshler, & Lenz 2012)

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RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION 11 The most intensive level of intervention resides in Tier 3 which gives the student the most direct and individualized forms of intervent ion or in some cases a referral to s pecial e ducation (Turse & Albrecht, 2015). Tier 3 works in a one to one scenario; the student works directly with the special education teacher (Mellard, McKnight, & Jordan, 2010). A student receives "the most concentrated evaluation of his learning strengths and weaknesses and the best individuali zed approach to satisfy learning need" (Turse & Albrecht, 2015 p. 85 ). In order to implement all of the components and the structure of RT I, Buffum, Mattos and Weber (2011) suggest ed four guiding princi ples known as the four C's of RT I: Collective Responsibility, Concentrated Instruction, Convergent Assessm ent, and Certain Access Collective responsibility refers to the idea that high levels of learning are given to every student by every teacher. Concentrated instruction means deciding on the most essential components of higher level learning and also keep in mind the needs of every student. Convergent assessment indicates progress monitoring and keeping track of st udent growth as well as how students learn. Certain access means every child will be given the time and support needed to learn at the higher leve ls (Buffum et al., 2011 ). The guiding principles assist teachers with implementing interventions within the classroom. General education teachers have the primary roles of i mplementing classroom inter ventions and moving students up and down tiers depending on student s needs. Special e ducation teachers intervene either during the third or fourth tier depending on the structure the school uses and the schools/districts definition of general educat ion and sp ecial education (Mastropieri & Scruggs, 2005). General education teachers must assess and implement research based assessments as well as interventions to guide students learning, which presents a huge shift from typical practice (Hazelko rn, Bucholz, Goodman, Duffy, & Brady, 2010 ).

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RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION 12 Strengths/Benefits Numerous benefits to the use of response to intervention make it a worthwhile process. T he key strength behind RT I lies in the early identification of students who struggle academically (Bineham et al ., 2014). Emphasizing RT I in elementary schools assists with getting students back on track and keeping them from failing and falling behind as much as possible. The earlier the response to interventio n process begins especially in reading and math, the earlier the student will be identified as having a learning disability and will receive the interventions needed in order to not fall behind. Another benefit of RTI happens in the large reduction of special education referrals resulting from more effective interventions ; especially minority students and students who are English language learners (ELL) (Bineham et al., 2014 ) One study conducted by Swanson, Solis, C iullo, and McKenna (2012) asked special education math and reading teachers between 3 rd and 5 th grade in the same school district t o provide their comments about response to i ntervention. Teachers praised RT I by saying, [RTI] gives kids an opportunity they wouldn't have had at another campus. Some kids need extra assistance, smaller groups, more intensive instruction, but they are not eligible to receive special education services. So, it is nice that they can still be ta ught by us (Swanson et al., 2012, p. 120). Collaboration amongst the general education teachers, special education teachers, administration, and interventionists was also stated as a benefit. In the Werts, Carpenter, and Fewell study (2014), some of the b enefits listed included statements about students not falling behind, and gaining a higher instruction level. There were also statements about the decrease in special education referrals and mislabeling bein g prevented more often due to RT I (Werts et al., 2014). Special education teachers commented on how general education teachers were providing more

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RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION 13 differentiated instruction, modifications, and direct intervention for struggling students (Werts et al., 2014 ). Teachers shared their opinions on the benefit s of the interventions; "It makes regular educators really look at their teaching and assessment," and "providing teachers with strategies to use with their whole class" (Werts et al., 2014, p. 8). There was also mention of the collaboration amongst teache rs a nd parents happening more often; "Parents are aware of their child's problems and that they are an integral part of [sic] educational process" (Werts et al., 2014, p. 8). Special education teachers commented that general education teachers were improvi ng their teaching skills and teaching strategies. Comments such as "accountability" were mentioned frequently in the benefits section in regards to making better professional decisions about students (Werts et al., 2014, p. 8). Gresham, Restori, and Cook (2007; 2008) identified many benefits to RT I. The most prominent strength transpires in the early identification of struggling students. There is no need to wait until failure has occurred several times over the years before receiving intervention (Restori et al., 2008). Between k indergarten and first grade students are screened for any academic difficulties (Gresham, 2007). Using a risk model also means the level of intensity for instruction at each tier will depend on the tier level and the student's abi lity (Gresham, 2007). Identification bias es have also decreased due to RT I. Response to intervention is based on relativity (student's academic performance versus average students' performance), so the over identification of boys, students with low er socio economic status, and minority students are less likely to be referred to special education than in the past (Gresham, 2007). The progress monitoring required provides immediate data and shows positive growth. The direct measuring (progress monitoring) dis plays what teachers need to teach students either as a whole group,

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RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION 14 small group, or individual instruction (depending on the presentation of the progress monitoring) (Gresham, 2007). Restori, Gresham, and Cook (2008) have also explored the benefits of re sponse to intervention. A student must show a need to receive assistance in response to intervention. The probl em solving approach within RTI allows teachers to analyze and pinpoint what the student needs, provide various intervention methods, and collect the student's data to track progress (progress monitoring) (Restori et al., 2008). The assessment process ingra ined in the RTI process, proves the reliability and validity behind the method. The research based assessments help teachers find an intervention method that will match the student's needs (Restori et al., 2008). Another benefit is the focus on student's p erformance outcomes. Response to intervention promotes a student's change in learning and increase in knowledge. The progress monitoring is put into place to assure that a student learns and closes the gap between himself/herself and his/her peers (Restori et al., 2008). Greenfield, Rinaldi, Proctor, and Cardarelli (2010) interviewed teachers after a response to intervention reading program was implemented into the school for a year. The elementary school, in the n ortheast, serves students from kindergarte n to f ifth grade. The school implemented RTI (three tier) through a partnership with a university in the 2007 2008 school year. Teachers commented on several aspects of the RTI implementation. T eachers said the data from the progress monitoring helped with driving and planning their instruction. One teacher commented "[progress monitoring] helps me see if what I'm doing is working. It helps me to see what students need more support" (Greenfield et al., 2010, p. 52). In regards to providing instruction one general education teacher commented on how targeted and focused the instruction became based on the data from progress monitoring. A special education teacher

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RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION 15 commented, "With the data, I'm able to target what's working and what's not, and I can continue t o make changes based on what the data is telling me (Greenfield et al., 2010, p. 53). Response to intervention brought about more collaboration and communication between the special and general education teachers as well as students. The collaboration amo ngst the teachers focused on using the data to match interventions with students and created more positive learning outcomes for students (Greenfield et al., 2010). Weaknesses/Challenges Several concerns still need to be addressed in order to improve response to i ntervention and continue using the process in all schools across the United States. Along with the many benefits of RTI there are just as many challenges. Despite increased professional literature addressing RTI, no consensus has been reached, but a variety of concerns have been reportedvagueness of a RTI definition, lack of defined measures and criteria used in the implementation processlack of extensive professional development, and an overall need for more re search on the development and implementation of RTI frameworks in large scale situatio ns (Bineham et al. 2014, p. 232). As of 2010 forty three of the fifty states have implemented response to i ntervention in some form (Zirkel, 2010) One of the problems with implementing RT I is the lack of guidance provided by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA). The act simply states "a school may use a process that determines if the child responds to scientific, research based intervention as part of the evaluati on procedures' of a LD" (Bineham et al., 2014, p. 233). Several school districts still use the IQ Discrepancy model or a versi on of both IQ Discrepancy

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RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION 16 and RT I. Many school districts do not understand how to introduce and/or implement r e sponse to i ntervent ion due to the lack of guidance and research (Bineham et al., 2014). Challenges Reported by Teachers /Description of Studies Several studies have been conducted in order to receive feedback from teachers in various states who deal with response to i ntervent ion in their schools. Teachers mainly discuss the aspects of RT I that directly affect their practice : training, time, support, resources, and paperwork. The studies graphed the various topics into the five categories and took key responses, both complaints and suggestions, from each category to share. Castro Villarreal, Rodriquez, and Moore conducted a study using one hundred teachers from "a large urban city in the Southwest United States" (2014 p. 101 ). A questionnaire was conducted with several different types of questions in order "to assess teachers' attitudes and perceptions of RTI" (Castro Villarreal et al., 2014 p. 106 ). Another study conducted by Werts, Carpenter, and Fewell sent out a questionnaire to over 3,570 special educ ation teacher emails in North Carolina. By the end of the questionnaire process only 775 teachers responded with 211 commenting on the different topics (Werts, Carpenter, & Fewell, 2014). Lack of Training The Castro Villareal (2014) study concluded that t wenty eight percent of the problem with RTI resided in the lack of training opportunities teachers received. Teachers felt they needed more training, specifically in the areas of interventions and what should occur in each tier. Teachers shared comments ab out the interventions such as "interventions are not done with fidelity," and "The various interventions needed can be confusing" (Castro Villarreal et al., 2014 p. 108 ). Some of the teachers commented on the lack of train ing in tiers said, "there is a di spute whether there is a time frame b efore moving on to another tier and not knowing when

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RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION 17 the student needs to change tiers (Castro Villarreal et al., 2014 p. 108 ). T eacher s also commented on the "l ack of training for RE [regular education] teachers in t he use of interventions," as well as the special education teachers, which indicates that administration shou ld provide the training and many questions still needed to be answered in order to provide effective instruction (Werts et al., 2014 p. 6 ) They also made broad statements such as "(a) lack of training in the use of proper interventions, (b) progress monitoring methods, and (c) use of assessment instruments" when implementing interventions (Werts et al., 2014 p. 6 ). Teachers in the Greenfield, Ri naldi, Proctor, and Cardarelli (2010) study stated they did not understand what to do after gathering the data during progress monitoring. One teacher said, Progress monitoring, to me, doesn't show what intervention they need, just that what I am doing is or is not working" (Greenfield et al., 2010, p.52 53). Another teacher said they were not sure what to do with the results of the progress monitoring (Greenfield et al., 2010). Not Enough Time Time played another ke y factor against implementing RT I effectively. Teachers felt there was a "lack of time to plan, implement, and gather data" (Castro Villarreal et al., 2014 p. 108 ). One teacher expressed, "When I am working with a small group, the rest of the class loses instructional time." Another teach er commented on the amount of time the paperwork and progress monitoring costs them at each step of RT I (Castro Villarreal et al., 2014). There were also comments such as, "Not enough time in the day to get it all done," "Many teachers avoid initiating the process due to the time required," (Werts et al., 2014 p. 5 ). Teachers also commented on how difficult it is to teach and implement RT I interventions as they are "Time consuming, especially with high teacher to student ratios (Werts et al., 2014 p. 5 ) Few Resources and Little Support

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RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION 18 In the Castro Villarreal, Rodriquez, and Moore study (2014) resources and support were combined in regards to teachers' thoughts and comments. One teacher stated, "There are not enough teachers to split the students int o the correct groups to get the interventions they need Castro Villareal et al., 2014, p. 108). Another teacher commente d on the lack of support from RT I specialists. Others said they "needed additional resources for students working below grade level" (Castro Villarreal et al., 2014 p. 108 ). The resources spoken of in the Werts et al. (2014) study were about money, assessments, instructional programming, and technology to track data more accurately A lack of trained personnel and expertise was mention ed often as well as the need for an additional person just to progress monitor students (Werts et al., 2014). One person commented "[There are] not enough qualified staff members to work with all the groups another commented on the lack of persons to do the paperwork and to staff the meetings" (Werts et al., 2014 p. 7 ). Paperwork The fifth problem teachers revealed, resided in the amo unt of paperwork required for RT I. The teachers said, "the need for constant documentation is difficult to keep up with ," "the paperwork involved in RTI is unmanageable" and "the various forms are lengthy and some are duplicated" (Castro Villarreal et al., 2014 p. 108 ). Teachers also complain ed about the amount of data collec tion which involves the most paperwork Some said, "Teachers finding it is too much data collection," "There is so much more the teachers have to do with the progress monitoring and graphing data," "[It is] too hard for regular classroom teachers to manage if they have several students" (Werts e t al., 2014 p. 6 ). Some teachers "said the forms were redundant and difficult to understand" (Werts et al., 2014 p. 6 ). At some point in the future RTI will either be replaced with a newer system or the weaknesses will be addressed in order to improve RT I.

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RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION 19 Future Pathways for RTI The newest pathway for RTI is known as a multi tiered system of support (MTSS) The basis for MTSS comes from a mixture of RTI "and positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) and integrates a continuum of system wide resources, strategies, structures, and evidence based practices for addressing barriers to student learning and discipline" (Utley & Obiakor, 2015, p. 1). A positive behavioral intervention and support system promotes school wide positive behavior and tiered interventions in regards to behavior (Donovan et al. 2015). A multi tiered system of support "represents an evidence based, system wide change effort to build a comprehensive, integrated system of tiered support (i.e., core instruction with differe ntiation, supplemental instruction/intervention, and targeted/intensive intervention" ( Donovan et al., 2015, p. 253 254). Within Colorado the terms multi tiered system of support and response to intervention are used interchangeably because RTI is seen a s a learning disabilities identifier and a system of support for all students ( Colorado Department of Education, 2015). A multi tiered system of support in Colorado "is defined as a whole school, prevention based framework for improving learning outcomes f or every student through a layered continuum of evidence based practices and systems" ( Colorado Department of Education, 2015). In Colorado MTSS is already utilized and over riding RTI. There are six components that must be included in order to effectively satisfy the goals of MTSS: "shared leadership, data based problem solving and decision making, layered continuum of supports, evidence based instruction, intervention and assessment practices, universal screening and progress monitoring; family, school, a nd community partnering" ( Colorado Department of Education, 2015). Implementing all six components

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RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION 20 ensures an effective system and one that ensures all students get the required level of support for their needs ( Colorado Department of Education, 2015) A multi tiered system of support can be difficu lt to implement into a school system because of the complexity of the system. Teachers, school psychologists, and administrators must work together to implement the whole system effectively (Form an & Crystal, 2015). An analysis of the school s former system must be made in order to implement the new MTSS system effectively and efficiently. Using evidenced based interventions also makes MTSS more effective because of the demand to implement evidenced based instr uction (Forman & Crystal, 2015). The evidenced based instruction is led by data based decision making and observed over several weeks to ensure the student is receiving the interventions he/she needs. Just like following along with the progress monitoring, MTSS support and training must be ongoing for all teachers in order to implement the sys tem effectively (Forman & Crystal, 2015). T he implementation process begins with th e school psychologists, who play a k ey role in supporting MTSS and applying all of t he system 's parts within the school. School psychologists lead the MTSS programs and ensure the student receives the support and interventions he/she might need (Forman & Crystal, 2015). School psychologists and administrators depend on data collection to ensure success of the process. Data drives MTSS in the same way it does RTI. The data collection proves student growth, determining what intervent ions may need to be used deciding any changes within the system, and guiding implementation and support of t he system (VanDerHyden & Snyder, 2006). Evidenced based practices guide the implementation of MTSS as do the teachers who implement the interventions within MTSS. The tiers work in the same manner as the tiers in RTI do because the data backs up the reasoning for the interventions at each level. Students start out in Tier 1 and

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RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION 21 move on to Tier 2 when the MTSS team has decided the student is not growing within the first tier (Witzel & Clarke, 2015). Ti er 2 instruction occurs in a small group setting within the classroom for about thirty mi nutes four times a week (Donovan et al., 2015) Tier 3 intervention, if needed, occurs for about an hour a day, all five days in the school week and taught in a one on one tutoring session (Witzel & Clarke, 2015). In order to guarantee a successful MTSS system, teams made up of general and special educators, school psychologists, and administrators must co operate to create target goals, build practices, and plan profes sional development to increase the potential of MTSS (Donovan et al., 2015). A multi tiered system of support is an evolution of RTI that has yet to be proven as more or less effective. Future Research Although a lot of research has gone into RTI and the system has proven effective within schools there are still many questions to answer. The biggest question is what data supports the u se of RTI? There is very little research to prove RTI is more effective than the IQ Discrepancy model. There is very li ttle explanation in regards to how the idea of RTI began, who started the system, and what research was completed to prove the effectiven ess and validity of the process (Daves & Walker 2012). Another major question is when do students move up or down with in a tier? Is there a time frame or does it depend on the amount of growth during progress monitoring? (Mastropieri & Scruggs, 2002). Teachers still have questions on how to know what types of interventions to provide and who provides the interventions at each tier level (Werts et al., 2014). Questions still remain as to how to implement RTI. There are no guidelines from IDEA, NCLB, or any other federal law on what RTI should look like in a school. Most states

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RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION 22 allow the school districts to decide what type of system they want to use (RTI, IQ Discrepancy, or another) (Zirkel & Thomas, 2010). Response to intervention must be proven for effectiveness, enforced through federal legislation, and clearer on what interventions and tiers to use on each student in ord er for the system to succeed in helping every student and identifying students with learning disabilities. Conclusion Prior to response to intervention, identification of students with learning disabilities was based on the student's IQ. The IQ Discrepanc y model was used for quite some time, but the amount of problems certainly outweighed the benefits. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the No Child Left Behind act encouraged the use of response to intervention as a means to help all stude nts and clearly identify students with learning disabilities. Response to intervention has taken off slowly since the introduction in 2004. Countless teachers praise the system and love how much information is received through the progress monitoring, how the lessons are changing with the data driven instruction, and the amount of involvement amongst the students. Many other teachers struggle to keep up with the time, paperwork, lack of support, few resources, and the small amount of training. Using teacher s' perspectives to guide the future implementation of RTI would be beneficial for the system, school, and teachers. Questions still remain, many from the teachers, in regards to the use of RTI and the validity of the small amount of research that supports the system. In order for RTI to continue to be successful to improve student learning and identification, the questions must be answered through validated research, teachers' comments reflected upon, the process enforced to all schools through legislation, and intervention methods, training, and support given to all teachers in every school throughout the United States.

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RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION 23 References Al Otaiba, S., Wagner, R. K., & Miller, B. (2014). "Waiting to fail" redux: Understanding inadequate Response to Intervention. Learning Disability Quarterly, 37 (3), 129 133. Ardoin, S. P., Witt, J. C., Suldo, S. M., Connell, J. E., Koenig, J. L., Resetar, J. L., Williams, K. L. (2004). Examining the incremental benefits of administering a maze and three versus one curriculum based reading probes when conducting universal screening School Psychology Review, 33 (2), 218 233. Berkeley, S., Bender, W. N., Peaster, L. G., & Saunders, L. (2009). Implementation of response to intervention: A snapshot of progress. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42 85 95.

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RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION 24 Bineham, S. C., Shelby, L., Pazey, B. L., & Yates, J. R. (2014) Response to intervention: Perspectives of general and special education professionals. Journal of School Leadership, 24 230 252. Buffum, A., Mattos, M., & Weber, C. (2011). Simplifying response to intervention: Four essential guiding principles Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press Castro Villarreal, F., Rodriquez, B., & Moore, S. (2014). Teachers' perceptions and attitudes a bout Response to Intervention (RTI) in their schools: A qualitative analysis. Teacher and Teaching Education, 40 104 112. Cohen, R. J., & Swerdlik, M. E. (2005). Psychological testing and assessment: An introduction to tests and measurement Boston, MA: McGraw Hill. Colorado Department of Education. (2015). The evolution of RTI in Colorado. Retrieved from: http://www.cde.state.co.us/rti/ Daves, D. P., & Walker, D. W. (2012). RTI: Court and case law confusion by design. Learning Disability Quarterly, 35 (2), 68 71. Department of Education. (2006). Assistance to states for the education of children with disabilities and preschool grants for children with disabilities (Federal Register Vol. 71, No.156) Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Donova n, L., McCoy, D., Denune, H., Barnett, D. W., Graden J. L., & Carr, V. (2015). Preparing doctoral level consultants for systems change: Implementing and supervising multitiered practices in early childhood education. Journal of Educational and Psychologica l Consultation, 25 (2 3), 252 275.

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RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION 25 Forman, S. G., & Crystal, C. D. (2015). Systems consultation of multitiered systems of support (MTSS): Implementation issues. Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, 25 (2 3), 276 285. Fuchs, L. S., & Fuchs, D. (1998). Treatment validity: A unifying concept for reconceptualizing the identification of learning disabilities. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 13 (4), 204 219. Gresham, F. M. (2007). Evolution of the response to intervention concept: Empirical foundations and recent developments. In S. R. Jimerson, M. K. Burns, & A. M. VanDerHeyden (Eds.), Handbook of response to intervention: The science and practice of assessme nt and intervention (pp. 10 24). New York, NY: Springer. Gustafson, S., Svensson, I., & Falth, L. (2014). Response to Intervention and dynamic assessment: Implementing systematic, dynamic and individualized interventions in primary schools. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, 61 (1), 27 43. Hazelkorn, M., Bucholz, J. L., Goodman, J. I., Duffy, M. L., & Brady, M. P. (2010) Response to intervention: General or special education? Who is responsible? The Educational Forum, 75 (1), 17 25. Hollenbeck. A. F. (2007) From IDEA to implementation: A discussion of foundational and future responsiveness to intervention research. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 22 (2), 137 146. Hoover, J. J., & Love, E. ( 2011). Supporting school based response to i ntervention: A practitioner's model. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 43 (3), 40 48.

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RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION 26 Jenkins, J. R., Hudson, R. F., & Johnson, E. S. (2007). Screening for at ris k readers in a response to i ntervention framework. School Psychology Review, 36 (4), 582 600. Kavale, K. A., Kauffman, J. M., Bachmeier, R. J., & LeFever, G. B. (2008) Response to intervention: Separating the rhetoric of self congratulation from the reality of specific learning disability identification. Learning Disability Quarterl y, 31 135 150. Lenz, B. K. (2006). Creating school wide conditions for high quality learning strategy classroom instruction. Intervention in School & Clinic, 41 (5), 261 266. Lerner, J. (2003). Learning disabilities: Theories, diagnosis, and teaching stra tegies. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin. Mastropieri, M. A., & Scruggs, T. E. (2005). Feasibility and consequences of response to intervention: Examination of the issues and scientific evidence as a model for the identification of individuals with learning disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 38 (6), 525 531. Mellard, D., McKnight, M., & Jordan, J. (2010). RTI tier structures and instructional intensity. Learning Disabilities Resea rch & Practice 25 (4), 217 225. Mitchell, B. B., Deshler, D. D., & Lenz, B. K. (2012). Examining the role of the special educator in a response to intervention model. Learning Disabilities: A Contemporary Journal, 10 (2), 53 74. Restori, A. F., Gresham, F. M., & Cook, C. R. (2008) "Old habits die hard:" Past and current issues pertaining to response to intervention. The California School Psychologist, 13 67 78. Seedorf, S. (2014). Response to intervention: Teacher's needs for implementation in gifted and talente d programs. Gifted Child Today, 37 (4), 248 257.

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RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION 27 Sullivan, J. R., & Castro Villarreal, F. (2013). Special education policy, response to intervention, and the socialization of youth. Theory into Practice, 52 (3), 180 189. Swanson, E., Solis, M., Ciullo, S., & McKenna, J. W. (2012). Special education teachers' perceptions and instructional practices in response to intervention implementation. Learning Disability Quarterly, 35 (2), 115 126. Turse, K.A., & Albrecht, S. F. (2015). The ABCs of RTI : An introduction to the building blocks of Response to Intervention. Preventing School Failure, 59 (2), 83. Utley, C. A., & Obiakor, F. E. (2015). Special issue: Research perspectives on multi tiered system of support. Learning Disabilities: A Contemporary Journal, 13 (1), 1 2. VanDerHeyden, A. M., & Snyder, P. (2006). Integrating frameworks from early childhood intervention and school psychology to accelerate growth for all young children. School Psychology Review, 35 (4), 519 534. Vannest, K. J., Soares, D. A., Smith, S. L. & Williams, L. E. (2012). Progress monitoring to support science learning for all students. Teaching Exceptional Children, 44 (6), 66 72 Vaughn, S., & Fuchs, L. S (2003). Redefining learning disabilities as inadequate response to instruction: The promi se and potential problems. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 18 (3), 137 146. Werts, M. G., Carpenter, E. S., & Fewell, C. (2 014). Barriers and benefits to response to i ntervention: Perceptions of special education teachers. Rural Special Education Quarterly, 33 (2), 3 11. Wil liams, R. B. (2011). Effective school i nterventions: Evidenced b ased strategies for impr oving student outcomes Psychology of Education Review, 35 (2), 26 28.

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RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION 28 Zirkel, P. A. (2009). Legal eligibility of st udents with learning disabilities: Consider not only RTI, but also 504. Learning Disability Quarterly, 32 (2), 51 53. Zirkel, P. A. & Krohn, N. (2008). RTI after IDEA: A survey of state laws. Teaching Exceptional Children, 40 (3), 71 73. Zirkel, P. A. & Thom as, L.B. (2010). State laws and guidelines implementing RTI. Teaching Exceptional Children, 43 (1), 60 73.