« Detroit Wrestles With Inclusion in High Schools | Main | Full Appeals Court to Hear Special Education Seclusion Case »

Response to Intervention and Diagnosing Learning Disabilities

I spent most of Wednesday at a leadership forum on response to intervention presented by the National Center for Learning Disabilities and the RTI Action Network, which is a program of the NCLD.

If my blog posts and articles can be considered an elementary-to-middle school introduction to RTI—an educational framework that provides intensive lessons to struggling learners—yesterday's all-day meeting was a graduate seminar. It featured experts in the field talking to each other about what RTI can do well, and where its effectiveness is not yet proven, and what schools and districts need to do to make the process effective for the largest group of kids.

One session of particular interest related to using response to intervention as a way to diagnose children with specific learning disabilities. Jack M. Fletcher, the principal investigator for the Texas Center for Learning Disabilities, argues in this paper that how a child performs in a RTI model can be part of diagnosing a child with a learning disability, but cannot be the sole method of doing so. Part of the conclusion reads:

The RTI framework is not an identification model for [learning disabilities], but it yields data relevant to identification, particularly in determining instructional response. .... Other disabilities and contextual factors that have an impact on achievement are also assessed as exclusionary criteria that explain inadequate instructional response and low achievement. A comprehensive evaluation is required to assess these factors.

As I mentioned, some panels tended toward the academic, and Fletcher's paper reflects the expectations of the audience he was writing for. However, anyone who is thinking about response to intervention and learning disabilities would gain from reading the paper.

It seems that the discussion around response to intervention is shifting from "what is RTI?" to "How can RTI be used most effectively and implemented successfully?" That conversation will be quite interesting to follow.

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Follow This Blog


Most Viewed on Education Week



Recent Comments

  • sdc teach: I agree with the previous post regarding the high cost read more
  • Jason: That alert is from 2001. Is there anything more recent read more
  • Vikki Mahaffy: I worked as a special education teacher for 18 years read more
  • paulina rickards: As it relates to this research I am in total read more
  • Anonymous: Fully fund the RTI process. We are providing special education read more