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Response to Intervention (RTI): What Teachers of Reading Need to Know

Author(s): Eric M. Mesmer and Heidi Anne E. Mesmer


Source: The Reading Teacher, Vol. 62, No. 4 (Dec., 2008 - Jan., 2009), pp. 280-290
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the International Reading Association
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to
Response
What
Teachers
to

Need

Clear

Readinq

E. Mesmer

RTI was

because
of the many problems
developed
the discrepancy
model
for identifying students
with learning disabilities
(e.g., Francis et al.? 2005;
Francis,
Fletcher, & Swank,
Foorman?
O'Malley,

to identifying and supporting


learners who may

and Rationale

Background

this approach

help explain

^^fW^

RTI ?r?
Theory

of relevant

legislation, and examples of RTI in


action

/j?
sitar

Heidi Anne

details

definitions,

of

with

be struggling.

Scanion, & Lyon,


2007). In 1977, a learn

2002; Stanovich?
In

the most

recent "What's hot, what's

not for 2008?"

Reading Today survey? 75% of prominent


literacy
to Intervention
that Response
researchers believed
be
(RTI) was "very hot" and the same percentage
lieved

that it should

"hot" (Cassidy & Cassidy?


to identifying students
2008). RTI is a new approach
with specific learning disabilities and represents a ma

be

in special

jor change

education

law, the Individuals

With Disabilities Act (IDEA).This change shifts the


emphasis

of the identification
and

intervention

process toward provid


to struggling students

ing support
in the Reading First
early and is similarly reflected
of
No
Child
Left
which calls for
Behind?
provisions
methods
to
of
instruction
reduce
the inci
proven
dence

of reading difficulties. RTI will alter the work of


reading teachers because more than 80% of students
identified

for special

education
struggle with literacy
names
and
the
law
(Lyon? 1995),
"reading teachers"
as qualified participants
in the RTI process because
of the International

Reading

Association's

(IRA,
RTI has only recent

2007) lobbying efforts. However,


ly attracted the attention of the reading community
such
(Bell, 2007), despite having roots in approaches
as prereferral

intervention (Flugum & Reschly? 1994;


mea
&
Fuchs? Fuchs?
Bahr? 1990), curriculum-based
surement (Shinn? 1989), and Reading Recovery (Clay,

1987;Lyons& Beaver? 1995).

The Reading

Teacher,

62(4),

DOf:10.1598/RT.62A1
280

pp, 280-290

(RTI):

Know

Er'c M. Mesmer,

^ll^?^^

Intervention

2005; Vellutino,

& Allington,
defined as "a severe

2000; Walmsley

was

ing disability
between achievement

and

discrepancy

intellectual

ability" (U.S.
of Education?
1977? p. G1082). In prac
Department
tice, this involves schools administering
IQ tests and
achievement

tests and

discrepancies

between

scores
then examining
intellect and achievement

for
to

identify a learning disability (see Table 1).The dis


has drawn four major criticisms.
crepancy model
First? it requires that a learning problem becomes
acute in terms of an IQ/achievement
considerably
before a learner can receive additional
discrepancy
a
support,
problem called "waiting to fail" (Vaughn
a dis
& Fuchs? 2003? p. 139). Second,
establishing
is not necessary
to improve outcomes
for
crepancy
readers, as students both with and with
struggling
are qualitatively
out a discrepancy
the same in their
needs (Fuchs, Mock? Morgan?
literacy instructional

& Young, 2003; Vellutino et al, 2000). Third? the IQ/


achievement

has shifted
focus away
discrepancy
from understanding
the impact of other possible
to learn (Walmsley &
factors? such as opportunities

Allington? 2007). These factors need to be considered


that a learning disability exists.
prior to determining
under
the
Fourth?
discrepancy model? many districts
and states
students

have

seen

identified

of
percentages
skyrocketing
as learning disabled, particularly

minorities (IRA,2007;Walmsley & Allington? 2007).

ISSN:

2008

International

Reading

Association

0034-0561 print /1936-2714 online

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Tafale 1
Definitions

of RTI Terms

Term

Definition

Discrepancy model

The standard for identifying students with learning disabilities based on the 1977 federal
between a
regulations. This process required that a significant difference be documented
in order for a learning disability to be identified. RTI
student's ability (IQ) and achievement
models respond to the many problems identified with the discrepancy model.
Targeted instruction provided in addition to the regular classroom program that addresses
a student's documented
instructional needs.
Instruction that intends to prevent students who are struggling from falling farther behind
their peers and intends to improve their future educational trajectory.

Intervention

Information that reflects how students are performing


in time.

Level data

in comparison

to peers at a specific

point
Slope data

Information that reflects how a student is learning across time in comparison to his or her
previous learning. These data capture rate of learning and can also be called growth rates.
Slopes that are steeper show more growth over a smaller period of time than slopes that
are flatter. Slope data are obtained by repeatedly measuring student performance
in a
particular area. They are displayed using a line graph.

Student progress
monitoring

An assessment technique required by RTI regulations. Teachers administer quick


assessments
{1-5 minutes) frequently (weekly) to gauge the improvement of a student. The
assessments provide information about the student's rate of learning and the effectiveness
of a particular intervention (National Center on Student Progress Monitoring, 2007).

Literacy screening

The process of assessing the most basic and predictive literacy skills for all students
in a school. The goal of screenings is to select learners whose reading achievement
is
significantly below standards. Literacy screenings are intended to identify students who
require additional help so that further slippage and literacy failure can be prevented.

The Law
In 2004, IDEA?Public Law 108-446, introduced RTI
of Education,
2006). In
language (U.S. Department
Table 2, the section entitled
"Specific learning dis
asserts
abilities" (? 300.307)
that states cannot be
use
to
the
model
for identify
required
discrepancy
ing learning disabilities but may "permit the use of a
to scientific?
process based on the child's response
research-based
intervention." This is RTI? a process
a learner's academic
whether
perfor
measuring
mance
improves when provided with well-defined?
based
interventions.
In an RTI model?
scientifically
the "tests" of whether
abilities
measured

students

are not standardized


responses

possess
measures

learning dis
but students'

to interventions. Within

RTI? stu

dent potential (IQ) is replaced by a goal thatallows


for the evaluation
fined academic

relative to a de
of a performance
standard (e.g., performance
of other

in the class or grade


ing quickly and significantly

students

level). Students respond


to interventions are less

Response

a disability
than students respond
likely to possess
more
or
not
at
all.
However? data showing
slowly
ing
a student's response to an intervention serves as only
one source

whether
of information
for determining
a learning disability
is present. Learning disabilities
cannot be diagnosed
when appropriate
instruction?
socioeconomic
status? culture? sensory
issues, emo
tional issues? or English as a second
language may
be of concern.
In the section

entitled

"Determining

the existence

of a specific learningdisability" (? 300.309), the law


states that a learning disability may be present when a
tomeet grade
is not adequate
student's performance
in
level standards when provided with appropriate
struction and research-based
interventions. The term
appropriate
that matches

refers

to instruction

a student's

scientific or research-based
should
verifiable

in the classroom

skill

level The descriptors


indicate that interventions

on practices
that have produced
results through research studies.

be based

to Intervention (RTI):What Teachers of Reading Need

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to Know

281

Table 2
Additional

Procedures

Children With

for Identifying

IDEA terminology

Specific

Disabilities

Learning

IDEA definition
A State must adopt, consistent with 34 CFR 300.309, criteria for determining whether a
child has a specific learning disability as defined in 34 CFR 300.8(c)(10). Inaddition, the
criteria adopted by the State:

? 300.307 Specific
learning disabilities.

intellectual ability and


Must not require the use of a severe discrepancy between
achievement for determining whether a child has a specific learning disability, as
defined in 34 CFR 300.8(c)(10);
Must

use

the

permit

based

a process

of

on

based

the

child's

to scientific,

response

research

and

intervention;

May permit the use of other alternative research-based procedures for determining
whether a child has a specific learning disability, as defined in 34 CFR 300.8(c)(10).
A public agency must use the State criteria adopted pursuant to 34 CFR 300.307(a) in
determining whether a child has a specific learning disability.
[34 CFR 300.307] [20 U.S.C. 1221e-3; 1401(30); 1414(b)(6)]
? 300.309
the

existence

in 34 CFR 300.306 may determine that a child has a specific


The group described
learning disability, as defined in 34 CFR 300.8(c)(10), if:
The child does not achieve adequately for the child's age or to meet State-approved

Determining
of

specific learning
disability.

learning
grade-level

in one

standards

grade-level

and

experiences
standards:

o Oral

or more

of

the

following
for
appropriate

instruction

when

areas,
the

child's

age

with
provided
or
State-approved

expression.

Listening
oWritten

comprehension.
expression.

o Basic
reading skills.
o
Reading fluency skills.
o

comprehension.
Reading
o Mathematics
calculation.
o Mathematics
problem

The

child

standards

does

not make

solving.
sufficient

to meet

progress

inone or more of the areas identified

a process
the child

exhibits

or both,

relative

based

on

the

child's

to scientific,

response

a pattern
of strengths
to age,
State-approved

age

or State-approved

in 34 CFR 300.309(a)(1)
research-based

and weaknesses
grade-level

grade-level

when

using
or

intervention;

in performance,
achievement,
or intellectual
standards,

that isdetermined by the group to be relevant to the identification


development,
of a specific learning disability, using appropriate assessments, consistent with 34
CFR 300.304 and 300.305; and the group determines that its findings under 34 CFR
300.309(a)(1) and (2) are not primarily the result of:
o A visual,
hearing, or motor disability;
o Mental retardation;
o Emotional disturbance;
o Cultural factors;
o Environmental

or economic

disadvantage;

or

o Limited
English proficiency.
in a child suspected of having a specific learning
To ensure that underachievement
disability is not due to lack of appropriate instruction in reading or math, the group must
in 34 CFR 300.304 through 300.306:
consider, as part of the evaluation described
Data

that

provided
personnel;
Data-based
intervals,
provided

demonstrate

that

appropriate

prior

to, or as a part

The Reading Teacher

the

referral

the

process,

settings, delivered

child

was

by qualified

and
documentation
formal

reflecting
to the child's

of repeated
assessment

parents.

Vol. 62, No. 4

December

assessments
of

student

of
progress

achievement
during

at

reasonable

instruction,

which

was

Note. From U.S. Department


to states for the education
of Education. (2006). Assistance
disabilites
DC: Author.
(Federal register 34 CFR Parts 300 and 301). Washington,

282

of,

instruction in regular education

of children with disabilities

2008/January

and preschool

2009

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grants

for children with

(Deno, Mirkin, & Chiang,

RTI Processes
The

processes
for evaluating
individualized

RTI have
undergirding
the success of schoolwide

been

used

supports,
education

and special
interventions,
&
Bell, 2005; Powell-Smith
(O'Connor, Fulmre, Harty,
in
et al., 1997). However,
& Ball, 2002; Taylor-Greene
this article we focus on RTI as an initial referral and
identification

process
ing learning disabilities.

for students

suspected

progress.org/chart/chart.asp.

of hav

Step 4

Step 1
are established.

Universal

Prevention

literacy practices
to identify
literacy screenings
begins with universal
students who could be at risk (see Table 3). Any state
receiving Reading First monies has identified a litera

in grades K-3. All students are screened


cy screening
on basic literacy skills approximately
three times per
is compared with
year. Typically, student performance
scores and students not meeting
minimal benchmark
receive help.

are implemented.
valid interventions
Scientifically
When students do not meet benchmarks,
they need

intended
will

allow

instruction. Within
are first delivered
to assist

students

them to improve

most

RTI models,

inter

to a small group and are


in developing
skills that
their reading skills.

interventions
Students who

for students who


continue

continue

to struggle

despite
initial intervention
instruction will require
receiving
more intense, targeted interventions. These
interven
to clarify
tions may require additional
assessments
the nature of the difficulty. The data generated
from
these

additional

assessments

should

be used

col

school
laboratively by teachers, reading specialists,
more
to
and
intensive
parents
psychologists,
develop
intervention
the
strategies.
Upon
implementation,
student's

Step 2

ventions

on

2007). For a list of tools


Progress Monitoring,
see the National Center on
for progress monitoring,
at www.student
Student Progress Monitoring website

Individualize

additional

Center

Student

to struggle.

benchmarks

1982; Fuchs & Deno,


1981;
measures

Riedel, 2007). Finally, progress-monitoring


must be reliable, valid, and brief (National

progress

to be monitored.

continues

Step 5
A decision-making
special education

process
services

to determine
occurs

for

eligibility

when

necessary.
In the last step, a team of school-based
professionals
and the student's parents review all data to determine
whether
the student is eligible for special education
services.

services may be indicated when


Special
to interventions
has not responded
that
have been well implemented
for a sufficient period
the student

Step 3
Progress of students receiving intervention instruction
RTI requires that progress-monitoring
ismonitored.
as students receive
collected
data are continuously
assessments
Progress-monitoring
the skills that are being targeted for
should address
and should indicate if the intervention
intervention
interventions.

is changing
the student's reading. Also,
ments should be administered
repeatedly
test-wise
biweekly) without
introducing
the results of an assessment
occurs when

the assess
(weekly or
bias, which
reflect

the

about a test rather


acquired
knowledge
In addition,
the assessments
than true performance.
to small changes
in
sensitive
should be sufficiently
those
that
the student's
(i.e.,
reading performance
testtaker's

if students
might occur within a few days) because
are showing growth on the more sensitive, microlevel
measures,
they will also be show
progress-monitoring
measures
in the more comprehensive
ing growth

Response

If the team suspects


of response may be explained

that the student's

social,

intellectual,

of time.

lack

by some other factor


a
not
then it
(i.e.,
by
learning disability),
explained
should request additional assessment
of the student's
behavioral,

emotional,

and adap

tive functioning.

RTI in Real Life: Making


a Difference for Mark
we use a vignette
To illustrate RTI processes,
(with
in schools. This
based on our experiences
pseudonyms)
vignette shows how a team including Donisha, a read
ing teacher, Julie, a special educator, Carol, a second
grade teacher, and Sandra, a school psychologist,
worked collaboratively
(and sometimes painstakingly)
within an RTI model to assist a student named Mark.

to Intervention

(RTI):What Teachers of Reading Need

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to Know

283

Table 3
Examples

of Literacy

Assessments

Screening

Authors

Screener

Dynamic

Awareness

Phonological

Texas Primary Reading

Literacy Screening

Invernizzi, Juel, Swank, & Meier, 2005

(PALS)

8c University of

Texas Education Agency


Texas System, 2006

Inventory (TPRI)

Illinois State Board of Education,

of Early Literacy (ISEL)

Illinois Snapshots

8c Kaminski, 2002

Good

Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS)

2004
4

1: Universal

Step

instruction, including reading daily in on-level mate


and
rials and working with Carol on comprehension

Practices

Literacy

Are Established
InSeptember, Mark was administered

the Phonological
and Literacy Screening
Awareness
(PALS; Invernizzi,
an
assessment
that be
&
Juel, Swank,
Meier, 2005),
measures,
gins with two screening
word list, given in the fall of grade
assessment.
From these measures,
mark

score

is formed.

the first-grade
2, and a spelling
an entry bench

If the benchmark

score

does

then additional
the grade-level minimum,
are
administered
(preprimer and primer
diagnostics
letter sounds, concept of word,
lists, letter naming,
not meet

blending,
passages

Students also read


and sound-to-letter).
which
rate,
accuracy,
reading
through
and
compre
scale),
(a 3-point subjective

phrasing
hension scores

are collected.

score of
In the fall, Mark received a benchmark
22 (7/20 on the first-grade word list) and 15/20 on the
score
An expected
benchmark
spelling assessment.
of 35, based on 15words on the first-grade list, and
for the begin
20 spelling
feature points is expected
at
of
Mark
read
second
ning
grade.
instructionally
level (1.1) with moderate
phrasing and
and answered
five-sixths of the questions

the primer
expression
correctly.
in 4 minutes

He read the 120 words

in the primer story


a rate of about 28 words

and 20 seconds,
per minute (WCPM) and 20 words below the
50th percentile
for second graders in the fall (Parker,
assess
Hasbrouck, &Tindal,
1992). When diagnostic
correct

ments

were

had mastered
awareness

administered,

data

showed

that Mark

skills, such as phonemic


alphabetic
and letters. Carol described
her initial

to have the basic building


"Mark seemed
analysis:
blocks
for reading but needed more practice at his
level." Initially, Mark received small-group classroom

284

The Reading Teacher

Vol. 62, No. 4

December

and November,
In September,
October,
decoding.
Carol took running records on the books that Mark
and the other students had been reading. Although
the accuracy

and book

levels of other students were

steadily increasing, Mark's accuracy was averaging


"I felt
90% in less difficult books. Carol explained,
more

like Mark needed


Iwas

because

concerned

to act
help, and we needed
to
that he would continue

fall behind."

Step 2: Scientifically Valid


Are

Interventions
RTI requires

Implemented

that instructional

interventions

be sci

entifically valid, public, implemented with integrity,


evaluated. Julie, who had recently
and systematically
that
the district's RTI workshop,
attended
explained
"The who, what, when, where, and how of interven
tions must be clear." The content of the intervention
the teacher responsible
be designated,
it identified, and the assessments
implementing

should

termined. Often different

team members

plan,

for
de
imple

ment, or assess the intervention based on availability


For this reason, educators must col
and expertise.
laborate and share information.
team discussed

The

an intervention.
team determined
nected

Mark's needs

and designed
its
the data, the
review
of
upon
fluent
that accurate,
reading in con

Based

to be the problem. Mark could


above his reading level, but
being impeded by word recogni

text seemed

easily understand
his progress was

books

that an intervention increas


tion. The group decided
for Mark would
ing the amount of reading practice
intervention
build up his reading level. The designed

2008/January

2009

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the following
comprised
fluent reading, repeated

of
components:
modeling
error
correction,
readings,

and self-monitoring.
comprehension
questions,
They
decided
that Donisha would
the inter
implement
in the classroom
vention with three other students
in 20-minute

three times per week.


In addi
towork with Mark in the class

sessions,

tion, Carol continued


room during small-group
instruction.
Specifically,
she had Mark read from the same materials
used by
to further

Donisha

increase

practice opportunities,
and she set a daily goal for Mark on comprehension
his answers each day and
questions. Mark checked
to
the
results
his
teacher at the end of the
provided
reading block.

As the intervention was

implemented, Sandra tracked


at
Mark's accuracy
and fluency in reading passages
the primer and second-grade
the goal
levels, because
was to understand
Mark's progress
toward grade
She used a PDA device

loaded with pas


levels. As Mark read these passages
kept track of his accuracy
(percent

for six weeks.

involved. Donisha's

for the professionals


to RTI was strong:

first reaction

At first, I felt like this group was shrinking reading down


to something very simplistic. Ihad to advocate for com
prehension questions to be included in the interven
tion.

Even

though

Mark's

matter.
and

also

We
by

solving

clarified

specific

their

The

on while
wasn't
of her

a child
going

is receiving

to stop

guided

power

comprehensive

program is broad and multifaceted,


an

be scripted.
to
Scripts
that are read verbatim during instruction.
are specific and systematic,
Interventions
but noth

ing in the law requires them to be scripted.


Carol also had concerns.
"Iwas not used

to peo
me
about
ple asking
specific questions
exactly what
Iwas doing, and how often, and what my results
were. At first, it felt invasive and suspicious."
Given
the frequency with which blame is placed on class
room teachers, Carol's reaction was understandable.
the team members
However,
pointed out that the in
all of the other

the time limitations

and

as a classroom

teacher.
placed
she had felt it in the past, Carol did not feel
Although
as though fingers were being pointed at her. Sandra
had faced equal frustration before:
I come

in because

a teacher

start asking questions,

has

a concern

It's like asking

contribute

to a useful
Ihad
be

intervention

a teacher
able

tell me,

on

is stepping

questions

Ican't help others further understand


gritty. Once
er. You won't

and when

Iget tight responses and defen

ifwe

can't

"You're

to help." While

toes.

the problem or

I am

not
not

talk nitty
a teach

a teacher,

Ican contribute to the development of interventions,


and Ihave particular skill inmeasuring effects.

So Carol
the

Response

Mark's

progress during
instruction, Mark's mid
evaluated by the team. He was

year PALS scores were


at the primer (1.1) level and barely in
independent
at
structional
the first-grade level with 14 errors and a
reading rate of 42 WCPM. Despite his increase
structional
level and fluency, the team remained
about

the lack of reduction

errors that Mark was making.


these errors would ultimately

The

in in

in the number
team decided

con
of
that

detrimental

to

fluency and comprehension,


particularly
text increased
in difficulty. The team determined

as

become

Mark's

intervention

that

was warranted.

rest

Interventions
for
Step 4: Individualize
to
Who Continue
Students
Struggle
Because
decided

program.

to reviewing
of intervention

in

reading

or doing

for almost

on Carol

individualized

lies

and itkeeps going

intervention.

reading

didn't

are additive

interventions

because

problems.

fine, we

that comprehension

that

narrower

nature

was

comprehension

that the interven

teachers

cerned

did not want him to believe

concerned

tion would

the six weeks

goals.
RTI to this point, it sounds
free. But itwas anything but that

and trouble

also

fruits, or

replace meat,

are directions

In addition

second-grade
As we have described

smooth

but it doesn't

was

the reading program


is like an extra

intervention

some

Mark demonstrated

and fluency, but his progress was


gains in accuracy
not increasing at a rate that would allow him to meet
established

vegetables.
Donisha

siveness.

sages
Sandra
weekly,
rate (WCPM).
and reading
age of words
correct)
1
Mark's
shows
and
accuracy
Figure
Figure 2 shows
his reading rate before and after implementing
the
intervention

of milk,

serving

and

diet. The

demands

IsMonitored

at different

liken the intervention

to a balanced

struction was working well


students and acknowledged

3: Progress
of Students
Intervention
Instruction
Receiving
Step

level norms.

We

to Intervention

the team
of decoding,
they had no measure
to assess Mark using the Word Attack Test

(RTI):What Teachers of Reading Need

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to Know

285

Figure 1
Mark's Accuracy

Intervention

During

Instruction

100
90

80H

|
3

Goal for Mark with second


grade material

70

?H

|?t 50A
s

40

Classroom
instruction and
intervention

Small-group
classroom
instruction only

*o\ 30
20
10
0

5
Weeks
Second-grade

materials

Primer materials

\*

Figure 2
Mark's Fluency

Intervention

During

Instruction

60

50

Small-group
classroom
instruction only

Goal for Mark with


second-grade material

I
40
<?
30

20
i

instruction
Classroom
and intervention

10

ii

Weeks
Second-grade

286

The Reading Teacher

Vol. 62, No. 4

materials

December

?a?

2008/January

Primer materials

2009

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from the Woodcock


from this assessment

Reading Mastery Test. Results


revealed that Mark was having
than one syl
words with more

difficulty decoding
lable or those that contained
This

resulted

in reduced

difficult vowel patterns.


accuracy and fluency. The

team enhanced
the intervention by adding practice
with problem words. Mark practiced
incorrectly read
in how to analyze word
instruction
received
words,
to similar words, and
skills
extended
parts,
analytic
practiced
through word sorts. Following word sorts,
a sentence.
Donisha
Mark read each word within
implemented
minutes
each
tervention
Mark's
ued

this individualized

The

weekly
by Sandra.
that the intervention would

for a minimum

of 6 weeks,

data and determined

services

were

(University

of Texas Center

for Reading

support:
Icould see that Mark had made great progress, but I
knew that summer could potentially influence his start
ing point in the fall and that his progress was the result
of substantive
instruction in addition to the regular
classroom. So I insisted that a meeting be scheduled
for him in the fall to be proactive about his needs.

& Vaughn,
Arts, 2003; Wanzek
2008).
was
Mark's
measured
each
week
Moreover,
progress
so that the intervention could be modified
ifhe failed
gains. His response to the individu
is provided
in Figures 3
alized reading intervention
and 4. Figure 3 shows that Mark quickly responded
to the word attack intervention. Data were collected
adequate

of words
per week on the percentage
from
passages. Mark's
rectly
second-grade
to the intervention contrasted
dramatically

Mark's progress was significant


relative to where his
were
at
skills
the beginning of the year. If the interven
tions had not met Mark's needs,
charged with determining

the team would

been

was

response

indicative

whether

have

the lack of

of a learning disability.

and

Language

once

that special education


not necessary.
Julie voiced
However,
about Mark and the continued
need for

concerns

imple
as this time frame

in early literacy often need to run longer, between


on factors such as the
10 and 20 weeks,
depending
needs of the student and the intensity of the inter

tomake

vention

team

with the end of the school year.


correspond
the team recognized
that interventions
However,

Eligibility
Services

as a result of the efforts


racy, fluency, and decoding
of school personnel. The team reviewed Mark's inter

be

would

Education

benchmark
Despite
falling below the second-grade
in September, Mark demonstrated
growth on accu

day

to be monitored

vention

for Special

in
following the reading practice
in
the
earlier
(discussed
article).
and fluency contin
reading accuracy

determined
mented

for 10

intervention

Step 5: Decision-Making
to Determine
Process

read cor
response
with his

Why RTI?
that incorporates
illustrated, RTI is a process
assessment
and intervention so that immediate

As

efits come
to inform

to the student.
interventions

both
ben

Assessment

data are used

and determine

the effective

ness of them. As a result of the intervention-focused


of RTI, eligibility services shift toward a sup
portive rather than sorting function. A testing model
or
that identifies and sorts students
into programs
nature

performance
intervention.

of those
upon the effectiveness
the
of
effectiveness
special
Unfortunately,
in sep
of students
education,
particularly placement
arate classrooms,
has been variable at best (Bentum

he was

& Aaron,

reading unknown words prior to the


By the sixth week, Mark correctly read
100% of words presented when prior to intervention

shows

only reading 55% to 60% accurately. Figure 4


that Mark improved in reading fluency as well.

Prior to word

attack

intervention

fluency
tion of the word

the effects of the


intervention,
had leveled off. With the addi

intervention, Mark's fluency


met the second-grade
he
until
goal.
steadily improved
met
the PALS summed score
Mark
of
end
the
May,
By
PALS (58 summer
His end-of-the-year
benchmark.
score)

showed

attack

the benchmark,
him meeting
level with
at second-grade

reading

compre
instructional^
hension, and reading at a rate of about 60 WCPM.

Response

services

is predicated

services.

2003; Kavale,
1990), even as an increas
of
students
have been
identified as
ing percentage
over the past 30 years (Gresham,
learning disabled

2002). Within
be addressed.

the RTI model,

instruction

can at last

Concerns,
Queries,
and Future Research
We have worked
school

to Intervention

districts,

state departments
of education,
schools, and teachers long enough to
with

(RTI):What Teachers of Reading Need

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to Know

287

Figure 3
Mark's Accuracy

Individualized

During

Intervention

100
90
80
Mark meets goal
of 100% accuracy

70
o

60

i
50
instruction
Classroom
and intervention

40
o
o?

30

Addition of
individualized
intervention

20
10
0

ii

10

11

13

12

14

15

Weeks

Figure 4
Mark's Fluency

During

Intervention

Individualized

70 -,

60-I

50
,S

Mark meets

30

-g

20

Addition of
individualized
intervention

Classroom
instruction
and intervention

10J
i

Ii

ii

ii

10

11

12

Weeks

288

goal

of?OWCPM

The Reading Teacher

Vol. 62, No. 4

December

2008/January

2009

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13

14

15

have questions about RTL The first issue is that defini


tions of scientific research privilege experimental
and
research
quasi-experimental
(Eisenhart & Towne,
occur when sub
2003; Pressley, 2003). Experiments
are
to different conditions
jects
randomly assigned
and the results measured,
and they are the best way
a certain
to know if a practice
is causing
learning
on delivering
outcome.
an
However,
they depend
treatment in a standardized
instructional
way, often
with

study personnel.

When

in experiments,

teachers

do participate
intensive support

they often receive


that may not be available when the strategy iswidely
can limit
The artifices of experiments
implemented.
to which
the degree
the instructional
treatment can
be implemented
in the real world (Pressley, 2003).
if
are
based
interventions
Second,
scientifically
to be

then research findings must get


implemented,
to schools. We are concerned
that the label scien

and will proliferate as


tifically based will be misused
and
publishers
companies
slap it on everything
they
market to schools. The final issue is that diverse ways
to screen

in literacy are still emerging


(Gersten &
note that phonologically
Dimino, 2006). Researchers
based competencies,
such as phoneme
awareness,
letter/sound
and
contribute
knowledge,
decoding,
to part of what makes a student a successful
reader
(Gersten & Dimino, 2006; Paris, 2005; Scarborough,
of
2005). Readers must also have a deep knowledge
word meanings
and be able to comprehend
text. We

in learning
gitudinal

damaging discrepancy
is spent admiring
the student's
this we mean

to the dominant

and

so much

time

inwhich

reading problem. By
the problem,
collect

discuss
people
it, and write about it,months before they do
anything about it. IDEA 2004 provides school districts
with a choice to opt out of the discrepancy
model.
data on

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41(2),

doi:10.1177/0022219407313426
teaches at Radford University, Radford,
H.
Virginia, USA; e-mail emesrner@radford.edu.
Mesmer teaches at Virginia Polytechnic Institute
? Mesmer

and State University,


hamesmer@vt.edu.

USA; e-mail

Blacksburgf

IRAMakes ItEasier |
..?artgflphpIP^^
for Educators Worldwide to Find Articles
ffM|P^^
In an effort

to share

a global audience,
Association

290

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and practice

with

the International Reading

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abstracts

in six language

es forthe content found inTheReading Teacher, the


Journal ot'Adolescent&Adult Literacy,and Reading

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and Spanish.

Visit www.reading

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