Browse the glossary below to learn the terms you need to know to successfully implement RTI in your school. This glossary was compiled using the following resources: The RTI Glossary of Terms developed by the IDEA Partnership @ NASDSE, the New Mexico Public Education Department RTI Glossary, and contributions from members of the RTI Action Network Advisory Council.

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An instructional technique in which the teacher breaks a complex task into smaller tasks, models the desired learning strategy or task, provides support as students learn to do the task, and then gradually shifts responsibility to the students. In this manner, a teacher enables students to accomplish as much of a task as possible without adult assistance.

Scientific, Research-Based instruction

Curriculum and educational interventions that have been proven to be
effective for most students based on scientific study.

Scientifically-based Research

Education related research that meets the following criteria:

  • Analyzes and presents the impact of effective teaching on achievement of students
  • Includes study and control groups
  • Applies a rigorous peer review process
  • Includes replication studies to validate results


Secondary Levels of Intervention

Interventions that relate directly to an area of need; are different from and supplementary to primary interventions; are often implemented in small group settings; may be individualized; are often connected to supplemental tier of a tiered intervention model.

Section 504

A student is eligible under Section 504 if the student has a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more of the student’s major life activities and needs accommodations to access education.

Specific Learning Disability (SLD)

IDEA 2004 defines a Learning Disability/Specific Learning Disability in the following manner: The child does not achieve adequately for the child’s age or to meet State-approved grade-level standards in one or more of the following areas, when provided with learning experiences and instruction appropriate for the child’s age or State-approved grade-level standards.

(i) Oral expression.
(ii) Listening comprehension.
(iii) Written expression.
(iv) Basic reading skill.
(v) Reading fluency skills.
(vi) Reading comprehension.
(vii) Mathematics calculation.
(viii) Mathematics problem solving.

Specific, Measurable Outcome

The statement of a single, specific desired result from an intervention. To be measurable, the outcome should be expressed in observable and quantifiable terms (i.e., Johnny will demonstrate mastery of grade-level basic math calculation skills as measured by a score of 85% or better on the end of the unit test on numerical operations).

Standard Protocol Intervention

Use of same empirically validated intervention for all students with similar academic or behavioral needs; facilitates quality control.

State Education Agency (SEA)

Refers to the department of education at the state level.

Strategic Interventions Specific to Need

Intervention chosen in relation to student data and from among those that have been documented through education research to be effective with like students under like circumstances.

Students at Risk for Poor Learning Outco

Students whose initial performance level or characteristics predict poor learning outcomes unless intervention occurs to accelerate knowledge, skill, or ability development.

Summative Assessment/Evaluation

Comprehensive in nature, provides accountability, and is used to check the level of learning at the end of a unit of study.

Systematic Data Collection

Planning a time frame for and following through with appropriate assessments to set baselines and monitor student progress.

Systemic Reform

Change that occurs in all aspects and levels of the educational process and that impacts all stakeholders within the process — students, teachers, parents, administrators, and community members — with implications for all components, including curriculum, assessment, professional development, instruction, and compensation.