RTI Could Save Money and Raise Achievement

By Joetta Sack-Min

Three years ago, when administrators in Kentucky’s Boone County school district began discussing a Response to Intervention (RTI) system, they noticed an underlying trend in elementary students’ test scores.

“While our overall scores were pretty good, we had many students who were not reading at grade level when they left third grade, and they were just falling farther and farther behind,” says Assistant Superintendent Karen Cheser.

Perhaps more troubling, Cheser says, was that the district’s efforts to help students through pull-out programs or special education placements weren’t working well either.

The key, the administrators realized, was finding a way to catch students who weren’t learning on schedule early -- even as soon as they entered kindergarten. Then, teachers could use different strategies and tools to help the students learn the assignments and keep pace with their peers.

Boone County’s RTI program, which uses those methods, has resulted in a 300 percent decline in referrals to special education.

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