Activity Guide

Federal legislation calls for a comprehensive Response to Intervention (RTI) model which, when implemented faithfully, will contribute to more meaningful identification of learning and behavioral problems, improve instructional quality, provide all students with the best opportunities to succeed in school, and assist with the identification of learning disabilities and other disabilities.

Since special education identification is more likely to have occurred for most students in the early grades, middle and secondary schools find that there are few secondary school models available. Middle level and high school teams tasked with complying with this directive would benefit from a clear overview of the essential components of RTI, the variety of models, and the three-tier intervention process. The article included here for reading and discussion provides a foundation for the work.

An implementation template is included here to help you organize the new actions being considered for implementation.

Reading: “Responding to Need,” Principal Leadership, January 2008, pp. 50–54.


After all team members have read the article, conduct a brief discussion about Sherry, the student whose dilemma is used to introduce the article:

  • Do you recognize this student? Does she have counterparts in our school?
  • What kinds of things are we currently doing to help our Sherrys?
  • Are our students who do not qualify for special education services but are struggling academically “falling through the cracks” in our school?
  • Are our efforts to support these students and give them voice intentional and systematic, or haphazard and dependent on luck?
  • How successful are our efforts? Do we know? Do we have data or only anecdotal information?

In small groups or as a full faculty discussion, ensure that all participants understand and can articulate:

  • What are the legal provisions of RTI?
  • What is the purpose of the initiative?
  • What are the interventions in the “three-tier model”?
  • What are the six critical components of an RTI model?

The second level of discussion/study should examine the six critical components listed in the reading. If the study group is larger than 8–10 people, it might be more useful to divide into smaller groups, by subject area or grade level, to begin to discuss what model(s) would work best for your school’s implementation of the six components.

Want to Know More?

As with any new work, you will no doubt find that some level of professional development and/or further study is required.

One excellent and very comprehensive resource can be found at the website of the National Center for Response to Intervention. The site includes a glossary of RTI terminology; in-depth information about the essential components; resources, including webinars, training modules, and tools for screening; and intervention plans. Trainers are also available through this organization.

A second site is the RTI Action Network. The site contains RTI information and “Get Started” resources that will help your school’s team develop and implement a plan and monitor its effectiveness.