Special Education

Minimum Requirements of a Response to Intervention Program (RtI)

I. Appropriate Instruction

A school district's process to determine if a student responds to scientific, research-based instruction shall include appropriate instruction delivered to all students in the general education class by qualified personnel. Appropriate instruction in reading means scientific research-based reading programs that include explicit and systematic instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, reading fluency (including oral reading skills) and reading comprehension strategies.[8 NYCRR §100.2(ii)(1)(i)]

Appropriate instruction delivered to all students in the general education class by qualified personnel

Appropriate instruction begins with the core program that provides:

  • high quality, research-based instruction to all students in the general education class provided by qualified teachers;
  • differentiated instruction1to meet the wide range of student needs;
  • curriculum that is aligned to the State learning standards and grade level performance indicators for all general education subjects; and
  • instructional strategies that utilize a formative assessment process.

It is recommended that schools use the New York State (NYS) curriculum guides to ensure that curriculum is aligned to NYS learning standards. These can be found at https://www.p12.nysed.gov/ciai/cores.html.

The New York State Education Department (NYSED) has posted a series of standardized and research-based Quality Indicator Review and Resource Guides on its website. These guides can be used to assess the quality of a school district’s instructional programs and practices in the areas of literacy and special education instructional practices. These are available at https://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/techassist/QIcover.htm.

It is beyond the scope of this document to provide extensive information on effective instructional strategies for all content areas.  Rather, information and links to available resources have been identified for in-depth information on research-based practices to assist schools in making those decisions.

Appropriate instruction in reading

Appropriate instruction in reading means explicit and systematic instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, reading fluency (including oral reading skills) and reading comprehension strategies.[8NYCRR 100.2(ii) and 200.4(c)(2)(i)]

For high quality early literacy instruction, the core reading program should minimally be scheduled for an uninterrupted 90 minute block of instruction daily.

Appropriate instruction in mathematics

Appropriate instruction in mathematics includes instruction in problem-solving, arithmetic skill and fluency, conceptual knowledge/number sense and reasoning ability.

For additional information, see Foundations for Success:  The Final Report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel at http://www.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/mathpanel/index.html  This report contains 45 findings and recommendations on curricular content, teachers and teacher education, instructional practices and materials, learning processes and assessments.

Additional resources for appropriate instruction in mathematics include, but are not limited to, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Practice Guide from What Works Clearinghouse, which offers eight recommendations for identifying and supporting students struggling in mathematics, intended to be implemented within an RtI framework and the guide “Assisting Students Struggling with Mathematics:  Response to Intervention (RtI) for Elementary and Middle Schools” which can be found at http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/pdf/practiceguides/rti_math_pg_042109.pdf.

Behavioral Supports and Interventions

Appropriate behavioral supports and intervention is evidenced by a school-wide positive behavioral system which reflects a systems approach to discipline that emphasizes prevention and data-based decision-making to both reduce problem behavior and improve academic performance. NYSED has posted a series of standardized and research-based Quality Indicator Review and Resource Guides, which can be used to assess the quality of a school district’s practices in the area of behavioral supports and intervention on its website at https://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/techassist/behaviorQI.htm. For additional resources on Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) see http://www.pbis.org/.

While this document focuses on the academic instructional components of RtI, the RtI framework is intended to support both academic and behavioral systems and schools are encouraged to implement both academic and behavioral aspects of an RtI framework as illustrated below:

School-wide systems for student success. Picture of triangle reflecting 3 tiers of intervention in academic and behavioral sysytems.

Above Image as Word word File

Culturally responsive instruction

Culturally responsive instruction uses the cultural knowledge, prior experiences, performance styles and strengths of students from diverse backgrounds to make learning more appropriate and effective for them.  Culturally responsive teaching incorporates multicultural information, resources, and materials in all the subjects and skills routinely taught in schools.

The Center for Research on Education, Diversity and Excellence (CREDE) CREDE has developed “Five Standards for Effective Pedagogy” with research supporting the adherence to these standards.  One of these standards requires connecting teaching and curriculum to student’s experiences and skills of home and community. For indicators of contextualization see http://crede.berkeley.edu

Another CREDE standard for effective pedagogy includes developing competence in the language and literacy of instruction across the curriculum. “Whether instruction is bilingual or monolingual, literacy is the most fundamental competency necessary for school success.” Language appropriate instruction should include “interacting with students in ways that respect students' preferences for speaking that may be different from the teacher's…” and “encouraging students' use of first and second languages in instructional activities.”  See http://crede.berkeley.edu/research/crede/lang_dev.html.

Also, see Chapter VI for additional information and resources.

Linguistically appropriate instruction

Appropriate instruction for limited English proficient/English language learners (LEP/ELL) students must be both culturally responsive and linguistically appropriate. This includes research-based instruction that has been validated with LEP/ELL students and bilingual and English as a second language (ESL) instruction, at levels pursuant to Part 154 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education.  It is also important to determine if adequate support in English language development has been provided and to what extent a student may be struggling due to their lack of proficiency in English.

The same basic requirements for implementing RtI with all general education students apply to situations in which cultural and linguistic diversity may be a factor: screening, progress monitoring, qualified instructors (for reading/literacy and content areas, including instructors providing English language arts (ELA), ESL and bilingual instruction), and application of instruction and interventions with fidelity.

See Chapter VI, Considerations when Implementing RtI with Limited English Proficient/English Language Learners.

Scientifically -based research

Instructional methods based on scientific research identify those practices that demonstrate high learning rates and improved academic performance for most students.  Scientifically-based research :

  • employs systematic, empirical methods that draw on observation or experiment;
  • involves rigorous data analyses that are adequate to test the stated hypotheses and justify the general conclusions;
  • relies on measurements or observational methods that provide valid data across evaluators and observers, and across multiple measurements and observations; and
  • has been accepted by a peer-reviewed journal or approved by a panel of independent experts through a comparatively rigorous, objective and scientific review. [No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001]

Quality Indicators for Appropriate Instruction

  • Research/evidence-based instruction that has shown to be effective is provided to all students.
  • Scientific research-based reading instruction includes an uninterrupted block of 90 minutes of daily explicit and systematic instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary development at all grade levels, reading fluency (including oral reading skills) and reading comprehension strategies.
  • Scientific research-based math instruction includes instruction in problem-solving, arithmetic skill/fluency, conceptual knowledge/number sense and reasoning ability.
  • Curriculum is aligned to the State learning standards and grade level performance indicators.
  • Instruction is provided by qualified personnel and trained staff.
  • Differentiated instruction is used to meet a wide range of student needs.
  • Professional development is provided to ensure fidelity of implementation.
  • Instructional strategies/programs are implemented with fidelity.
  • Instruction is culturally and linguistically responsive to the language and learning needs of students whose first language is not English.

1For information on differentiated instruction, see http://www.cast.org/publications/ncac/ncac_diffinstructudl.html#definition.

Last Updated: November 9, 2010