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Response to Intervention. Big Ideas: Since its inception as a category, SLD has been characterized by severe discrepancy between ability/achievement. In IDEA 2004 RTI was added as a “don’t wait to fail’ alternative.

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response to intervention

Response to Intervention

Big Ideas:

Since its inception as a category, SLD has been characterized by severe discrepancy between


In IDEA 2004 RTI was added as a “don’t wait to fail’ alternative.

Council for Exceptional Children has a position on RTI that warrants consideration.

Specific Learning Disability-Determination


wac definition wac 392 172a 03055
WAC DefinitionWAC 392-172A-03055
  • The student does not achieve adequately for the student's age or meet the state's grade level standards when provided with learning experiences and instruction appropriate for the student's age in one or more of the following areas:

(a) Oral expression.

(b) Listening comprehension.

(c) Written expression.

(d) Basic reading skill.

(e) Reading fluency skill (Added in 2004 IDEA).

(f) Reading comprehension.

(g) Mathematics calculation.

(h) Mathematics problem solving.

More on next slide.


wac criteria wac 392 172a 03065
WAC CriteriaWAC 392-172A-03065
  • If the school district uses a severe discrepancy model, it will use the OSPI's published discrepancy tables for the purpose of determining a severe discrepancy between intellectual ability and academic achievement.
  • The tables are developed on the basis of a regressed standard score discrepancy method that includes:
  • (a) The reliability coefficient of the intellectual ability test;
  • (b) The reliability coefficient of the academic achievement test; and
  • (c) An appropriate correlation between the intellectual ability and the academic achievement tests.
  • The regressed standard score discrepancy method is applied at a criterion level of 1.55.

See example on next slide.


wac criteria wac 392 172a 030651
WAC CriteriaWAC 392-172A-03065

The assumption is that a Chuck’s IQ and reading performance would be approximately the same.


Intelligence test performance


Reading test performance

More on next slide.


wac criteria wac 392 172a 030652
WAC CriteriaWAC 392-172A-03065

Here is an example of when a 2 SD discrepancy exists. Chuck’s IQ standard score is 100 but his reading test standard score is 70.

Check your curve if you don’t know the percentile ranks for both of Chuck’s scores.


Intelligence test performance


Reading test performance

More on next slide.



Well, that’s the discrepancy formula approach. Thanks Silver Guy.

IDEA 2004 provided another way of identifying a student with LD that is based on ‘Response to Scientific Research-Based Intervention’ (AKA Response to Intervention or RTI).

The next slide provides the WAC description of how this works.


WAC CriteriaWAC 392-172A-03060 - Process based on a student's response to scientific research-based intervention.
  • School districts using…[RTI]…shall adopt procedures…[containing]…the following elements:
  • (a) Universal screening and/or benchmarking at fixed intervals at least three times throughout the school year;
  • (b) A high quality core curriculum designed to meet the instructional needs of all students;
  • (c) Scientific research-based interventions as defined in WAC 392-172A-01165 are identified for use with students needing additional instruction;
  • (d) Scientific research-based interventions used with a student are appropriate for the student's identified need and are implemented with fidelity;
  • (e) A multitiered model is developed for delivering both the core curriculum and strategic and intensive scientific research-based interventions in the general education setting;
  • (f) Frequent monitoring of individual student progress occurs in accordance with the constructs of the multitiered delivery system implemented in the school consistent with the intervention and tier at which it is being applied; and
  • (g) Decision making using problem solving or standard treatment protocol techniques is based upon, but not limited to, student centered data including the use of curriculum based measures, available standardized assessment data, intensive interventions, and instructional performance level.

See more on next slide.


WAC CriteriaWAC 392-172A-03060 - Process based on a student's response to scientific research-based intervention.

Such policies and procedures outlined in subsection (1) of this section shall be designed so that districts can establish that:

  • (a) The student's general education core curriculum instruction provided the student the opportunity to increase her or his rate of learning;
  • (b) Two or more intensive scientific research-based interventions, identified to allow the student to progress toward his or her improvement targets, were implemented with fidelity and for a sufficient duration to establish that the student's rate of learning using intensive scientific research-based interventions in the general education setting, in addition to or in place of the core curriculum, did not increase or allow the student to reach the targets identified for the student;
  • (c) The duration of the intensive scientific research-based interventions that were implemented was long enough to gather sufficient data points below the student's aim line to demonstrate student response for each of the interventions through progress monitoring to determine the effectiveness of the interventions.
  • OSPI has developed guidelines for using response to intervention to assist districts in developing the procedures required under this section.



Whew, that was a lot to cover. The big idea seems to be that identification based on RTI requires faithful application of research based instructional procedures and materials.

Hmmm…I wonder how this hand is going to play out?

Dave, does Council for Exceptional Children have anything to say about RTI?



I’m glad you asked; yes. CEC (largest professional group that works on behalf of persons with disabilities) has a position statement on RTI. They begin by saying…

“The RTI process is designed to identify struggling learners early, to provide access to needed interventions, and to help identify children with disabilities. …by providing data about how a child responds to scientifically based interventions as part of the comprehensive evaluation required for identification of any disability.”



CEC continues with specific statements

RTI “must be viewed as a schoolwide initiative…representing an inclusive partnership between all school personnel and families to address the academic and behavioral needs of learners beginning as early as the preschool years.”

Shall not delay the referral of a child who is suspected of having a disability for a comprehensive evaluation.



Regarding ‘interventions,’ CEC says these….

Shall consist of a multi-tiered problem-solving process with at least three tiers.

  • The first tier provides instruction through a universal core program in general educationuntil students show evidence of failing to respond as expected to the instruction provided.*
  • The second tier…more intensive than general education but less individualized than special education.
  • The third or highest tier provides specially designed instruction and related services…which is delivered by special educators. This tier may also include intense individualized intervention services to a small number of children not identified as having a disability but requiring these services that are delivered by specialized general educators and/or other professionals.

*NCLB emphasized “Reading First” initiative which requires research-based instruction by highly qualified teachers using materials with proven effectiveness.


cec on rti interventions cont
CEC on RTI Interventions cont.

Special education and related services in tier three are based on an IEP. …Specially designed instruction should be characterized by individualized, data-based, and recursive instruction, combined, as appropriate, with general education instruction.

Shall use a formative evaluation process, such as progress monitoring measures, to inform instructional decision making about adjusting instruction, changing curricula or materials, and/or determining movement among tiers.




Shall include provisions for referral for a comprehensive evaluation in any tier, which includes measures of cognitive ability, to determine if a child has a disability and is eligible for special education and related services and due process protections.

Data from RTI in tiers one and two shall not be a substitute for a comprehensive evaluation. RTI data does not provide sufficient data to rule out or identify a disability.

This is what CEC considers important regarding referral to special education.




Regarding RTI team roles, CEC indicates the following.

Shall recognize general educators as the primary interveners and special educators as members of the problem-solving teams in tiers one and two.

Conversely special educators are the primary interveners in tier three or the highest tier.



Shall recognize that the knowledge and skill level of educators needed in each of the three tiers is very different, thereby supporting requirements that educators possess the appropriate level of knowledge and skills in such areas as

  • identifying and implementing evidence-based intervention strategies;
  • monitoring academic and behavioral progress;
  • selecting, implementing, and evaluating instructional and programmatic elements;
  • participating meaningfully and actively in the multidisciplinary comprehensive evaluation process; and
  • designing, implementing, and evaluating problem-solving models that ensure fidelity and integrity.

I’m getting tired of that Diamondhead picture. You?

In closing, here’s how CEC considers professional knowledge and skills.


the end
The End

Special thanks to…

  • CEC whose position statement appears in Teaching Exceptional Children, Jan/Feb 2008
  • OSPI for its guidance in translating the federal law, IDEA, in WA school practices
  • Silver Guy for his help on discrepancy formula.