What is response to intervention (RTI)?

ByAmanda Morin

At a glance

  • RTI aims to identify kids who are struggling in school.

  • It uses targeted teaching to help them catch up.

  • An important part of RTI is measuring progress and providing more support to kids who need it.

If you look inside any general education classroom, chances are good that you’d see different students struggling for different reasons. It can be hard for a teacher to tell right away which students are struggling or why. 

Response to intervention (RTI) aims to identify struggling students early on and give them the support they need to thrive in school. The word intervention is key to understanding what RTI is all about. The goal is for the school to intervene, or step in, and start helping before a student falls really far behind. 

Teachers can provide targeted teaching — called interventions — to help struggling students catch up. A big part of the RTI process involves closely monitoring student progress. That way the school can see which students need more academic support.

RTI isn’t a specific program or type of teaching. It’s a proactive approach: RTI measures students’ skills and uses this data to decide which interventions to use.

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About the author

About the author

Amanda Morin is the author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education” and the former director of thought leadership at Understood. As an expert and writer, she helped build Understood from its earliest days. 

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Elaine M. Niefeld, MA, MBA is a consultant and former associate director of the RTI Action Network.