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A Family Guide to Response to Instruction and Intervention (RTI²) – 2020-2021 School Year

August 24, 2020

Please note: This article was originally posted during a previous school year. Information and/or dates from past events
may be not be relevant for the current school year.

A Family Guide to Response to Instruction and Intervention (RTI²) – 2020-2021 School Year

What is RTI²?

Response to instruction and intervention is the way CMCSS intervenes with students who are struggling academically by focusing on quality core instruction and intervention of specific skill deficits. The purpose of RTI² is to intervene with students quickly in the area of need so skill deficit gaps do not develop as they progress through school.

What does the RTI² Framework look like?

The RTI² Framework has three tiers; each tier provides intensifying levels of support.

  • In Tier l, all students receive evidence-based, high quality, general education standards-based instruction that incorporates ongoing universal screening and assessments to inform instruction. Tier I is another name for the regular core instruction all students get every year. 
  • In Tier ll, students identified as having significant skill deficits receive intervention targeted to the specific area of need. Student progress is consistently monitored during intervention and decisions about tier movement are based on progress monitoring data.
  • In Tier III, more intensive interventions are provided to students who have not made significant progress in Tier II, or who demonstrate a deficit significant enough to warrant immediate Tier III intervention. Students are monitored closely to determine if the intervention is effective. Movement from Tier III is dependent upon intervention success.

Tier II and III intervention occur in addition to regular classroom instruction. Schools will communicate with parents in writing when students go into and out of intervention, as well as update progress during intervention.

What are the key components of RTI²?

RTI² has been around for many years and is proven to improve instruction for all students by identifying areas for improvement in core instruction.  

Schools assess all students in the fall, winter and spring using what is called a Universal Screener. This is a skills-based measure students are given to quickly check how they perform compared to grade-level expectations. Screeners are brief and measure math and reading proficiency. School teams consider data from a variety of sources, including the screener, to determine the level of intervention most appropriate and the specific skill deficit.  

Another key component of RTI² is progress monitoring. Progress monitoring is a way for teachers to take a snapshot of how children are doing on a specific skill. It includes formal and informal assessments. Progress monitoring helps determine whether an intervention is successful or needs to be changed. Data from this type of monitoring is shared with parents on a regular basis (every 4-5 weeks).

When progress monitoring indicates a student is not responding to the intervention at an acceptable rate (gap closure is not occurring at reasonable rate), another approach or intervention may be implemented. If a higher level of support is needed, students may be provided more intensive intervention that further focuses on the supporting skills they need to be successful learners (Tier lll). Students who do not respond to Tier III interventions may be referred for a special education evaluation. 

What if I think my child needs special education?

If at any time parents become concerned that their child needs special education services, they should contact their child’s teacher or administrator. Other forms of evaluation, in addition to information gathered through the RTI² framework, are needed to determine if a student is eligible for special education services. A parent’s written consent is required for these evaluations to be conducted.

Additional information about RTI² implementation will be provided by each school.


CMCSS was impacted by COVID-19 beginning on March 13, when school closure was ordered by Governor Lee and supported by the TN Department of Education. To prevent loss of attained learning, CMCSS began providing Continuing Learning Packets (including resources and strategies for academic intervention) the week of April 6. Although Continuing Learning did not offer access to new learning, it did provide students and their families with necessary supports in online and paper formats. Direct instruction and tiered intervention were not available to students during the school closure, which lasted 9 weeks (March 16-May 21), due to the fact implementation requires face-to-face participation for explicit instruction, student response, and engagement in multisensory activities. For some of our families, this unprecedented and abrupt change in the delivery of instruction highlighted equity issues for access to technology and/or devices. Thus, some assessments and data chats may not have been completed in Spring 2020. Please know your child’s continuation in evidence-based, high quality, standards instruction (Tier I) and skill-specific intervention (Tiers II/III) is one of our top priorities.

If your student was participating in tiered intervention as of March 12, that intervention will be continued this Fall. After CMCSS has determined students are ready, and the safety and social-emotional wellbeing of our staff and students is restored, the district will quickly begin administering fall universal screening measures to gauge student progress and make instructional plans to meet the needs of all students. Data from the fall universal screening will be used in conjunction with previous screening, progress monitoring, and curriculum-based data to determine the need for continued intervention, tier level, and pinpoint specific deficits. After universal screening measures are administered, parents/guardians will be provided information if the continued or initial placement of their student(s) in tiered intervention is recommended. All data will be treated as continuous (i.e., the quarantine does not necessitate a ‘restart’ on data collection and/or delay progression toward referral) and data teams will meet frequently and consistently to review student progress and make informed decisions.

We wish you and your student(s) a healthy, productive school year! Should you have any questions, please contact your school’s RTI2 lead or the district RTI2 data team at [email protected].


Adapted from: A Parent Advocacy Brief written by the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), Family Guide to RTI², August 2020.