Response from Alexa Posny, Ph.D., Kansas Commissioner of Education: Response to intervention (RTI) is not mandated by federal law or federal regulation. In fact, the phrase "response to intervention" never appears in either federal law or regulation. What is included in the IDEA regulations (Sec. 300.307) in the determination whether a child has a specific learning disability, is that the use of a severe discrepancy between intellectual ability and achievement is no longer required (however it can be still be used) and that it is permissible to "use a process based on the child’s response to scientific, research-based intervention…" What causes confusion for some is that RTI is being shared by many practitioners and researchers as a systematic process of screening all students for academic difficulty, implementing instructional/interventions that have evidence to support their efficacy, monitoring student progress in these interventions, and applying more intense levels or "tiers" of interventions as needed. The use of RTI as a systematic process for screening, intervening and monitoring—while not mandated by federal law—is what was intended under IDEA to determine a child’s response to scientific, research-based intervention.


Additionally, another initiative that is often confused with RTI is Early Intervening Services (EIS). EIS is sometimes viewed as an individual student problem solving approach or a standard protocol approach to interventions. Under IDEA, a local education agency may use up to 15 percent of its IDEA Part B funds to develop and implement the provision of early intervening services for students who have not yet been identified as needing special education but who need additional academic and behavioral support to succeed in general education.


In Kansas, to assist the field in implementing a prevention and/or intervention system of support for any child, we have referred to it as a Multi-Tier System of Supports or MTSS. MTSS encompasses both RTI and EIS and more. Simply put, MTSS is a continuum of increasingly intense research-based interventions provided to students that respond to their academic and/or behavioral needs. It includes ongoing monitoring of the effectiveness of the interventions provided. The outcome is to ensure that each Kansas student achieves to high standards.