7. RTI Success

REL West (Regional Education Laboratories, U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, 2009) conducted a survey of RTI policies and procedures employed in selectedstates. A table 3 presents an overview of how nine states (Arizona, Arkansas, California, Illinois, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Utah, Washington) conformed to eight programmatic concerns.

No state addressed all eight concerns. Three states addressed six, and one four. Of the 73 cells in table, 41 (64%) were filled. Progress in the nine states was uneven, suggesting considerable discretion as to how RTI was being organized. (There is no federal mandate for RTI.)

All nine states were “promoting general education ownership” of RTI. The table format excluded special education as a concern. “…while state respondents highlighted as accomplishments progress in training and technical assistance, cross-discipline collaborative efforts, and framing RTI as a general education initiative (as opposed to one exclusively for identifying students with spe­cific learning disabilities), they also acknowledged some of these areas as ongoing concerns…”

“In four states—Arizona, Arkansas, Illinois, and Washington—respondents described special and general education depart­ments as sharing responsibility.”

“Two states deliberately excluded the term RTI in naming their initiatives, according to respondents, to avoid its association with special education and to foster broader application.”

Only 4 states were “incorporating student diversity” into their RTI programs. “In implementing RTI policy, as with any other educa­tion reform or policy, states need to con
sider the di­verse needs of students.”

“New Mexico is the only study state whose documents explicitly identify the tier III intervention as a special education intervention, implemented as part of the student’s individualized education program.”

Six states were “ensuring personnel capacity.” Related services were not mentioned.

As to aims for special education, “Respondents indicated that evaluation efforts should contain outcome data on student achievement and referrals to special education. Respondents for all nine states mentioned student achievement outcome data as a potential focus for evaluating their RTI processes. Seven state respondents cited a reduction in special education referrals as an anticipated impact of RTI. However, respondents from four of these states noted that reducing the number of referrals was not a state goal of RTI; rather, the goal was to clarify the ac­curacy and efficiency of the referrals. “

COMMENT

The REL West survey indicated state-wise progress in rolling out RTI. Demonstrated was a wide variety of philosophies, policies and procedures applied under the RTI umbrella. Discretion is far ranging. Considering the IDEA-2004 purpose of reducing special education over-identification through RTI, general educators appeared to be moving in another direction, taking control of RTI and converting it into remedial programs. Preventing the over-identification of special needs children was not a priority.

http://relwest.wested.org/

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