Navigating RTI in Education: Understanding the Basics

As an educator or parent, you may have heard of RTI, but you might need clarification on what this means and how this works. RTI stands for Response to Intervention, a multi-tiered approach to identifying and supporting students who struggle in school. This article will provide an overview of RTI in education and help you understand the basics of navigating this complex system.

Teacher explaining lesson to pupils
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What Is RTI in Education?

RTI is a framework designed to identify and address the needs of struggling learners. It is established on the idea that early intervention and prevention can help students who are struggling academically, behaviorally, or emotionally. RTI consists of three tiers of instruction and intervention, each with its level of intensity and support.

The Three Tiers of RTI

Tier 1

The first tier of RTI involves universal screening for all students in a particular grade level or subject area. This screening is designed to identify students who may be at risk for academic or behavioral problems. Next, teachers use the results of the screening to determine which students need additional support or intervention. Tier 1 interventions are typically classroom-based, such as differentiated instruction, small-group instruction, or peer tutoring.

Tier 2

The second tier of RTI provides targeted interventions for students who did not respond to Tier 1 interventions. These interventions are more intensive and may include one-on-one or small-group instruction, a longer duration of support, or more frequent monitoring of progress. In addition, a specialist, such as a reading specialist or a behavioral specialist, often provides Tier 2 interventions.

Tier 3

The third tier of RTI is the most intensive level of support. Students who have not responded to Tier 1 or Tier 2 interventions receive more individualized and intensive interventions. These interventions may involve a more comprehensive assessment and more frequent progress monitoring and may be provided by a team of specialists.

If your child or student is struggling in school, it can be overwhelming to navigate the RTI process. Below you can find some tips to help you understand the basics of RTI and advocate for your child:

1. Understand the Screening Process

Ask your child's teacher or school administrator about the universal screening process and how it works. Be certain to ask how you will be notified if your child is identified as needing additional support.

2. Ask Questions

If your child is identified as requiring additional support, ask questions about what kind of interventions will be provided, how long they will last, and how progress will be monitored.

3. Keep Track of Progress

As your child receives interventions, keep track of their progress. Ask for regular updates from your child's teacher or intervention provider, and take note of any changes or improvements you see.

4. Advocate for Your Child

Don't hesitate to speak up if your child is not obtaining the support they need. Ask for a meeting with your child's teacher or school administrator to discuss your concerns and work together to develop a plan to support your child's needs.


Navigating RTI in education can be challenging, but it is essential for identifying and supporting students who need additional help. By understanding the basics of RTI and advocating for your child or student, you can help them obtain the support they need to succeed in school. Remember to ask questions, keep track of progress, and work collaboratively with your child's teacher or school administrator to develop a plan that meets your child's unique needs. With the right support and interventions, students can overcome academic, behavioral, or emotional challenges and succeed in school and beyond.