A word about Response to Intervention (RTI) or the Multi Tiered System of Support (MTSS) and how it differs from an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
Many parents reach out to me concerned that the school does not want to evaluate their child for a learning disability but instead wants to provide support through RTI or MTSS. They feel that the school does not take what is happening, or not happening, for their child seriously enough. Often times the parents express it as the school does not want to help.
RTI and MTSS are first line support systems that schools are mandated to implement when a child is not performing up to grade level standards. The tiered system describes what those interventions look like and how they are to be implemented and monitored. Each tier is time bound and growth is to be monitored for the student's success.
In a 3 Tier system, Tier 1 is the general education classroom curriculum. Tier 2 are those small groups of students that work, in the classroom directly with the teacher. (Think of the horseshoe table with a teacher sitting with the students.) Tier 3 is more intensive, often with non-classroom materials, a different instructor and weekly assessment. Tier 3 is where growth has to be demonstrated, or not, before a child is referred for an evaluation.
The belief driving RTI/MTSS is that with focused instruction, in the area that is missing, a child can catch their peers. This is a growth model at the core. Something instructional has been missed. If we can determine what that is and work on it repeatedly the student will make progress to the extent that they will be able to learn as originally hoped.
The RTI/MTSS construct says instruction, when improved, will eliminate the need for something beyond general education.
An IEP is a vital document to support learning for students that have an identified disability. The IEP may require a unique way of teaching, instruction may take place in a different setting/classroom/school, a longer learning time that is reflected in personalized learning goals, etc.
The IEP construct says this is not a gap in instruction but rather a need for something beyond general education to support learning. The goal of the IEP is to meet a student’s needs with specialized learning and supports for as long as necessary to attain success.
What is imperative is that your child gets what they need, when they need it, to make their education appropriate and meaningful for them to be all they can be now and in the future.