American Institutes for Research to Launch New RTI Center

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) has awarded the American Institutes for Research (AIR) a grant to create the National Center on Response to Intervention. The five-year, $14.2 million grant will enable AIR’s new center to serve as a central source of in-depth knowledge, expertise, and research on response to intervention (RTI) for state and district administrators, educators and parents.

RTI is a process intended to help educators identify students who are not performing academically at the same rate as most of their peers. RTI can help teachers increase the achievement levels of struggling students by monitoring their progress, and then making data-based instructional decisions based on the level of progress.  By providing information about how a child responds to scientifically based interventions, RTI enables teachers to adjust the intensity and/or frequency of the interventions they use.

Experts in the field have reached consensus regarding the need to identify children with academic and behavioral difficulties at an early age. Early intervention with these students can either decrease the need for special education or reduce the intensity of the services required.

“AIR is honored to be chosen for this important role of launching this new center,” said Dr. David Myers, a senior vice president of AIR and the director of the Education and Human Development Program. “The goals of this center match the goals of our organization – to make research relevant to those who can benefit from it most.”

RTI is currently being used and investigated in general and special education classrooms and is demonstrating promise as a means for early identification of children with disabilities, particularly specific learning disabilities (SLD), as well as students who are at risk of developing behavioral disabilities – (either solely or in conjunction with an academic disability).  Additionally, there is promise that disproportionate representation of minority students in special education may be effectively addressed by integrating RTI with an Early Intervening Services (EIS) framework for minority students who are not progressing in the general education curriculum.

Many states are in varying stages of implementing an RTI program in their districts and schools.  While some have already established a complete RTI framework, others have yet to identify the model they will use in which grades and for which subjects.  Regardless of where states are in their implementation of RTI, the new RTI Center will provide technical assistance and appropriate information to help ensure that the academic needs of students are being met.

“AIR and its partners at Vanderbilt University and the University of Kansas are well-versed in the use and implementation of RTI and its associated components, including screening, progress monitoring, data-based decision-making, procedural safeguards, and multi-tiered interventions, as well as issues related to disproportionate representation of children based on race or ethnicity,” said Dr. Nancy Safer, a managing research scientist at AIR and a principal investigator for the RTI Center.
The RTI Center will have the opportunity to share its planned activities and expected outcomes at the U.S. Department of Education-sponsored RTI Summit in Arlington, Va. on December 6-7, 2007.  The purpose of this meeting is to provide training, information, and planning time for state-based educational teams working on the implementation of early intervening services and RTI instructional approaches.

The RTI Center is being funded through the Research to Practice Division of OSEP and is part of OSEP’s National Technical Assistance and Dissemination (TA & D) Network.  AIR currently operates five OSEP-funded TA & D Centers: The Access Center: Improving Outcomes for all Students K-8, the National Center on Student Progress Monitoring, the National Center for Technology Innovation (NCTI), the Center for Implementing Technology in Education (CITEd), as well as the National High School Center (co-funded by OSEP and OESE).

About AIR

Established in 1946, with headquarters in Washington, D.C., the American Institutes for Research (AIR) is an independent, nonpartisan not-for-profit organization that conducts behavioral and social science research on important social issues and delivers technical assistance both domestically and internationally in the areas of health, education, and workforce productivity.