Special Education


Response to Intervention (RtI) is the practice of providing high-quality instruction/intervention matched to student needs and using learning rate over time and level of performance to make important educational decisions about an individual student.  (NASDSE, 2006)

RtI represents an important educational strategy to close achievement gaps for all students, including students at risk, students with disabilities and English language learners, by preventing smaller learning problems from becoming insurmountable gaps.  It has also been shown to lead to more appropriate identification of and interventions with students with learning disabilities.  Each day educators make important decisions about students' educational programs, including decisions as to whether a student who is struggling to meet the standards set for all students might need changes in the nature of early intervention and instruction or might have a learning disability.  This decision as to whether a student has a learning disability must be based on extensive and accurate information that leads to the determination that the student's learning difficulties are not the result of the instructional program or approach.  RtI is an effective and instructionally relevant process to inform these decisions.

The New York State Education Department (NYSED) has established a regulatory policy framework for RtI in relation to school-wide screenings, minimum components of RtI programs, parent notification and use of RtI in the identification of students with learning disabilities.  The Regents policy establishes RtI as a school-wide system of organizing instruction and support resources to deliver high quality instruction to meet the diverse needs of learners.

RtI begins with high quality research-based instruction in the general education setting provided by the general education teacher.  Instruction is matched to student need through provision of differentiated instruction in the core curriculum and supplemental intervention delivered in a multi-tier format with increasing levels of intensity and targeted focus of instruction.  As a consequence of school-wide screenings of all students and progress monitoring, students who have not mastered critical skills or who are not making satisfactory progress can be identified for supplemental intervention.  If the student continues not to make sufficient progress after receiving the most intensive level of instructional intervention, it may be determined that a referral for a comprehensive evaluation to determine eligibility for special education is needed.

Reading in the early grades is a primary focus of the RtI process, as this is the area in which most of the research is available and the curriculum area in which the most students are identified with learning difficulties.  However, the process of data-based decision making and the principles of RtI can apply to other content areas as well as to behavioral issues that impact learning.

There are several areas of regulatory requirements in which screening, assessment and the provision of appropriate instruction are outlined reflecting the principles of RtI. It is the integration of these requirements that forms New York’s policy framework for school districts to use to systematize effective educational practice.  These regulations, which are included in Appendix A, include:

  • Part 117 – School-wide Screening Requirements
  • Part 200 – Requirements for Written Board of Education Administrative Policies and Practices
  • Part 100 – Required Components of an RtI Program
  • Part 200 – Requirements for Procedures for Determining if a Student Has a Learning Disability

The purpose of this guidance document is to describe features or components of an effective RtI model by defining RtI as a multi-tiered early prevention system designed to improve outcomes for all students.  The chapters of this document provide guidance on:

  • minimum requirements of an RtI program:
    • appropriate instruction,
    • screenings applied to all students,
    • instruction matched to student needs,
    • repeated assessments of student achievement,
    • application of student information to make educational decisions, and
    • notification to parents;
  • school district selection of a specific structure and its components;
  • staff knowledge and skills needed to implement an RtI program; and
  • use of RtI data in determining if a student has a learning disability.

In general, each chapter presents regulatory requirements, followed by guidance, quality indicators, and tools to assist districts in selecting a specific structure and model.  Appendices include information on references and resources, regulatory policy framework, and a sample form for documenting procedures for determining if a student has a learning disability.  This guidance document should be used in conjunction with information provided by the New York State Response to Intervention Technical Assistance Center (NYS RtI TAC) on their website at www.nysrti.org.  The charts at the end of each chapter (reprinted with permission from Mellard and Johnson, A Practitioner’s Guide to Implementing Response to Intervention, 2008) are intended to assist districts to identify the essential tasks to be considered when implementing the various features of the RtI process.

For purposes of this document, the RtI process is described as having three tiers.  The RtI framework supports both academic and behavioral support, and schools should implement positive behavior support models which are closely related to RtI.  However, the primary focus of this document is on the academic instructional aspects of RtI.

This nonregulatory guidance does not impose any requirements beyond those required under applicable law and regulations.  The guidance is intended to reflect the current thinking on this topic as of the publication date.

Last Updated: October 28, 2010