RTI Source: Begin


01_Planning section quoteThe first step to planning Response to Intervention (RTI) implementation is typically a whole-staff session to provide an overview of the purpose, goals, and process. Defining terms so that there is a shared language among the staff about the concepts and processes involved is beneficial. Vital to the language and concepts behind RTI are the 8 Core Principles created by the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE) titled Response to Intervention: Policy Considerations and Implementation (Batsche et al., 2006).

Planning goals and strategizing how to achieve them is critical to the process; however, the time spent planning should be “just right.” Over-planning can use up valuable time at the beginning of the implementation while enthusiasm and interest among staff members is high. On the other hand, not enough planning can mean that the implementation is less effective because it lacks purpose. Planning entails motivating staff, creating teacher buy-in, and selecting members for a strong leadership team.


Motivating Staff

02_Motivating Staff Quote

Motivating teachers to recognize the need and benefit of RTI is crucial. The first step is to collect curriculum-based measurement (CBM) data at every grade level and then to examine this data by student, classroom, grade level, and school. Schoolwide CBM baseline scores (Oral Reading Fluency, ORF) can point to the need for reading score improvement.

Continually referencing the data points from the CBM scores as data talking points, and making these references pervasive in conversations within grade-level and building meetings, increases teacher awareness of the sense of urgency to raise scores. Motivating staff by awareness of schoolwide objectives from CBM scores is critical to launching RTI implementation and beginning the important steps toward progress monitoring.

Building Buy-in

03_Building Buy-In QuoteWhile building buy-in, remember to continually reference the baseline data that you’ve chosen to embed in your school goals. Make this data memorable so that teachers are able to readily quote it while planning instruction and during discussions at team and staff meetings.

Reluctant and resistant teachers can be an obstacle to implementation that should be addressed as soon as resistance is noticed. Other obstacles that must be faced to help ensure successful implementation are doubt, fear of extra work or change, philosophical skepticism, and retiring teachers.

It’s important to confront these obstacles head-on so that “non-implementers” do not influence other staff members’ buy-in. In most cases, success defeats resistance. Use the data from progress monitoring at benchmark intervals to provide clear evidence that RTI is not a philosophy but is what works.

Taking Control of Resistance and Reluctance

04_Taking Control of Resistance Quote1. Create visible data walls to make evident that differentiation and progress monitoring is working.

Meet with teachers one on one, listen to reservations, and offer support.

Provide teachers many opportunities to meet with grade-level teams and reading coaches.

Increase accountability to differentiated lesson planning by observing resistant teachers more frequently.

Ask directly, “Can I count on you to fully implement and embrace RTI?” and wait for a direct answer of yes or no.

The best way to support teachers is by providing them the time needed to collaborate and plan. Teachers can use this time to reassess the materials and to organize them as tools for differentiated and responsive instruction.

Celebrating gains and successes is by far the most motivating tool for an administrator. Attend team meetings and express gratitude and acknowledgement for efforts that lead to gains. Praise efforts and incremental gains privately, as well as during team meetings and whole-staff gatherings.

Creating the RTI Team

05_RTI team meeting

The RTI team brings together the building staff. Recommended team members include:

  • Assistant principal
  • Reading coach or reading teacher (the content experts)
  • Title I coordinator
  • Special education coordinator
  • Grade-level team representatives
  • School psychologist
  • Speech-language pathologist

The RTI team brings insight into the climate, efforts, and success of the implementation throughout the building so that confusion can be addressed appropriately.


The RTI coordinator plays a pivotal role in RTI roll out and maintenance. He or she is mainly responsible for assessment duties but may also assume the responsibility for peer coaching and instruction. Analyzing and managing data, as well as leading the administration of assessments are the RTI coordinator’s most crucial responsibilities. Attending grade-level meetings and sharing critical data is also imperative. The RTI coordinator’s attendance at team meetings ensures consistency and shared understanding of school efforts throughout the building. Typically this position is filled by the reading coach or reading specialist.

If the RTI coordinator’s role includes coaching and instruction, then responsibilities will also include planning intervention instruction, gathering and recommending materials, and modeling lessons. An RTI coordinator must build trust and strong relationships so that teachers are willing to be open, ask questions, and face obstacles. Extremely important is the RTI coordinator’s authority related to data submissions and timely progress monitoring by the staff.


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