Developing a Plan

The focus of this section is on the development of a building-level plan for implementation of a Response-to-Intervention (RTI) model. However, all of the concepts apply to the district level as well. Some general guidelines exist for the development of a plan.

General Guidelines

  1. Follow the steps of consensus building, then infrastructure development, and then implementation. Developing an infrastructure for a setting in which consensus to implement has not been achieved is wasted energy. By the same token, attempting to implement the model in a setting in which there is little infrastructure is futile and frustrating.
  2. A handbook of policies and procedures should be developed to guide practice and promote consistency of implementation.
  3. Only bite off what you can chew! There is no blueprint for how expansive your implementation plan should be. Some buildings choose to limit the focus of implementation by grade level (e.g., start with just kindergarten) or content area (e.g., reading, biology). An implementation checklist is provided in this section. Use that checklist to determine where to start (phases-consensus, infrastructure, or implementation). Once you determine the phase that aligns with your readiness, identify a subject area or group (e.g., kindergarten, 6th grade) that has achieved consensus and for which you have the greatest amount of infrastructure in place already.
  4. The plan should cover a timeline of at least 3 years. It is important that the school staff understands how long this will take (it’s a marathon, not a sprint) and how what they are doing now fits with what will happen next.
  5. Professional development is the fuel that runs this engine. Knowing what skills will be needed and the existing skills of the staff will inform professional development needs. Professional development must precede implementation in order to ensure that the staff has the skills necessary to be successful with this initiative.

Developing Consensus


Consensus is achieved through staff discussions that focus on the need for this initiative and the skills that the staff has (or will get the support to develop) for implementing the process. See the Build Support section for more information. The indicator that consensus has been achieved is an agreement level of at least 80% support among the group (i.e., school, grade level, subject area) targeted for implementation. Keep in mind, though, that consensus is not a majority, but rather is an agreement to support implementation (even by individuals who may not agree with the process but agree to support it).


Staff beliefs are important considerations when seeking consensus from a group. The set of beliefs most aligned with the RTI process includes the following:


  • No child should be left behind.
  • It is okay to provide differential service across students.
  • “Academic engaged time” must be considered first. Student performance is influenced most by the quality of the interventions we deliver and how well we deliver them—not by pre-conceived notions about child characteristics.
  • Decisions are best made with data.
  • Expectations for student performance should be dependent on a student’s response to an intervention, not on the basis of a score that predicts what they are capable of doing.


Remember, achieving consensus is facilitated by ensuring that the staff understands the need for the process and believes that they either possess the skills or have support for the skill development necessary for successful implementation of the process. Self-report surveys have been developed to assess staff beliefs and perceptions that the staff has about their skills in relation to implementation of an RTI model. Download the Beliefs and Perception of Skills surveys to keep on file for your own use.


Creating the Infrastructure


Implementation of an RTI model requires specific resources, and it is important to reiterate that implementation without the essential components of the infrastructure is futile. The essential components of the infrastructure are as follows:


School-Based Leadership Team


The school-based leadership team (SBLT) must work in a collaborative way to achieve the common mission of implementation. Roles and responsibilities must be defined clearly and agreed upon. The SBLT must meet frequently to monitor the progress of implementation, assess the need for professional development, and provide technical assistance and support for implementation. Tools have been developed to monitor the progress of RTI implementation. The Self-Assessment of Problem Solving Implementation, a needs assessment survey, is one such measure. It is the responsibility of the SBLT to complete this survey at least twice a year, and preferably three to four times each year during the first 3 years of the Implementation Plan.


Data Coach


The functions of the data coach include the following:


  • Gathers and organizes Tier 1 and Tier 2 Data
  • Supports staff for small group and individual data collection
  • Provides coaching for data interpretation
  • Facilitates regular data meetings for building and grade levels

Problem-Solving Process


A step-by-step, problem-solving method must be used in the RTI process. This process should be used when making decisions about core instruction (Tier 1), supplemental instruction (Tier 2), and/or intensive instruction (Tier 3). A procedures handbook should be provided to guide the SBLT through this process. An explanation of the problem-solving method and resources for professional development exist elsewhere on this Web site.


Decision Rules Regarding RTI


When using data to make instructional and intervention decisions, clear rules guiding the interpretation of those data are required. Criteria for positive and negative responses to intervention must be developed so that a consistent set of decisions are made for students (based on those data) across buildings within the district. This critical component will be a high priority for professional development.


Data Sources and Decision Making


The building must ensure that data on which to base interpretations of students’ response to an intervention are available and accessible to teachers and the SBLT. Obviously, it would not be possible to determine a “response” to intervention without student-centered data. Data sources include:


  • Universal screening measures
  • Progress-monitoring measures
  • Classroom assessments
  • Diagnostic assessments
  • Districtwide assessments
  • High-stakes testing (accountability) assessments


Data from different sources are used to make decisions at different levels of instruction. For example, accountability assessment and universal screening measures may be used to assess the effectiveness of core instruction. Progress-monitoring measures may be used to assess a student response to supplemental instruction.


Intervention Map


It is important that all educators in the building understand the full range of instruction and interventions available in a building. This is important information that is used to ensure that core instruction and more intensive interventions are integrated across the tiers. If the general education classroom teacher does not know the nature and extent of the curriculum/strategies used in supplemental or intensive instruction, then that teacher will be unable to integrate the supplemental/intensive instruction into the general education classroom. Conversely, if the individuals providing supplemental and intensive instruction are not aware of the task demands of the core instruction, it is likely that the supplemental and/or intensive instruction will be fragmented and difficult for the student to use in the general education classroom. An example of an intervention map appears below:


Figure 1:



Intervention Support and Fidelity


Perhaps the most important letter in RTI is the I. Unless the instruction/intervention is implemented the way it was supposed to be implemented (i.e, intervention integrity), then any data collected will only reflect the fact that the student(s) did not actually get the instruction/intervention. Therefore, no conclusions about a student response to (non)intervention can be made.


Two strategies can be used to support intervention integrity. First, intervention integrity is enhanced when appropriate intervention support is provided. Second, intervention integrity is enhanced when intervention implementation is documented.


A useful protocol for intervention support has been developed. Intervention support strategies are provided for up to 10 weeks and include both the frequency of support and the content of the support.


Frequency -- Support meetings should occur two to three times per week for the first 2 weeks, two times per week for the next 2 weeks, and one time per week for the remaining 6 weeks.


Content -- The duration of support meetings ranges from 15 minutes to 30–45 minutes. During each meeting, three agenda items are covered. First, the student data are reviewed with the teacher. Second, the intervention support person determines if any barriers to intervention implementation exist and, if they do, attempts to resolve those barriers (e.g., time, method). Finally, the steps for the intervention are reviewed.


An intervention implementation log documents three aspects of the intervention integrity: the time (each day) that the student received the intervention, the program or strategy selected for the intervention, and the focus of the intervention. Download the Intervention Documentation to see an example of an intervention documentation form.


Technology Support


Technology support is, perhaps, the most critical element of the infrastructure. The primary form of technology support is a computerized database that stores, calculates, and displays student data. The SBLT uses this technology support to provide the data necessary for conducting instructional decision making.


Technical Assistance


Technical assistance ensures that intervention implementation and data collection and analyses are conducted with integrity.

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