ESSA │Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (formerly RTI)
Across the country, local school districts, particularly those challenged by often long-standing achievement gaps and higher mandated standards for student performance, are increasingly turning to tiered system of support frameworks such as multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) and response to intervention (RTI). They are finding that MTSS and RTI provide an effective framework for turning around schools, reforming curricula to better meet student learning needs, and improving outcomes for all students—including those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. With a focus on improving outcomes for all students especially those who have been historically underserved, ESSA suggests that schools and districts implement a tiered system of support and allow states flexibility in developing their MTSS model for both behavior and academic needs.
From 2007 to 2012, AIR operated the National Center on Response to Intervention (NCRTI), which provided technical assistance to build the capacity of states to assist districts in implementing and evaluating proven models of RTI. Through this Center expert researchers on RTI came together to develop high quality research-based training and guidance materials to lead states in building an RTI framework. Though federal funding for the National Center on RTI has ended, AIR staff continue the work of building state and local capacity in RTI implementation through the Center on RTI. This work has been continued through the National Center on Intensive Intervention and though direct work in states and districts.
AIR staff from the Center on RTI have learned that close involvement by district- and school-based leadership teams in RTI implementation and a strong focus on increasing student progress leads to better coordination, collaboration, and forward momentum in the difficult work of turning around schools, closing academic achievement gaps, and reducing special education referrals. Additionally, systemic state-level change is necessary to support and sustain this work in districts and schools. AIR staff have continued to lead states and districts across the country in RTI/MTSS implementation including professional development, coaching, and evaluation at both the state and local level.