Response to Intervention Overview
Beginning with Why Johnny Can’t Read: And What You Can Do about It (Flesch, 1983) and continuing with A Nation at Risk, a report by the National Commission of Excellence in Education (1983), the era of accountability for public schools in America began in earnest in the 1980’s. In A Nation at Risk, the National Commission on Excellence in Education (1983) declared:
Part of what is at risk is the promise first made on this continent: All, regardless of race or class or economic status, are entitled to a fair chance and to the tools for developing their individual powers of mind and spirit to the utmost. This promise means that all children by virtue of their own efforts, competently guided, can hope to attain the mature and informed judgment needed to secure gainful employment, and to manage their own lives, thereby serving not only their own interests but also the progress of society itself (p. 2).
Throughout the country, state departments of education began efforts to measure students’ educational progress with the advent of state directed standardized assessments. During the 1980s, Texas developed a standardized state assessment, most recently known as the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS). With each generation of standardized tests came an increasing level of educational expectations. Tax payers and legislators across the nation demanded a higher level of student performance for their investment.
A new way of thinking about education was needed. This would require not only a change in mainstream education or specialized instruction, but also a change that would challenge the tenets of both. Response to Intervention (RTI) has become the most recent initiative for education that schools use to demonstrate student progress. RTI is a systematic provision of services to students based on their needs at the time, without the need for special education eligibility to get the appropriate instruction they need to be successful in school.
Response to Intervention is a system of providing instruction to students based on need alone. RTI is based on the guidance and research of the National Reading Panel, the National Association of School Psychologists, and educational research centers across America. (For more information on these centers refer to Resource Section of this module.) This approach also attempts to ensure that all students have access to effective instruction or interventions that are based on science, not opinion or belief.