The International Reading Association (IRA) refers to RTI as a model of prevention instead of a model of failure.  I really like that – a model of prevention… makes sense, doesn’t it?

6 Principles of RTI, according to IRA:

PRINCIPLE 1: Instruction (highest possible quality of core instruction – Tier I – for ALL students, optimizing instruction)

PRINCIPLE 2: Responsive Teaching and Differentiation (Increasingly differentiated and intensified instruction and intervention)

PRINCIPLE 3: Assessment (Screening, Diagnostics, and Progress Monitoring; includes classroom observations)

PRINCIPLE 4: Collaboration (Among professionals, parents, and students, as well as between instructional offerings)

PRINCIPLE 5: Systemic and Comprehensive (RTI is part of a comprehensive and systemic [total] approach)

PRINCIPLE 6: Expertise (Expertise of the teacher is central to improvement of achievement – YOU are the most critical team member)

“What’s Hot, What’s Not” – International Reading Association

RTI has been listed in the annual “What’s Hot, What’s Not” in the READING TODAY (IRA) publication every year since 2007.

What else is Hot or Should Be Hot?  RTI is included with the following:


Early Intervention

English Language Learners

Informational Text

Literacy Coaches

Struggling Readers

RTI is in good company!  All of the above topics are actually connected in some way to RTI; providing that weave of support in many areas that has the potential to strengthen one and all.


According to Cara Shores and William Bender (2007):

  • One strength of RTI is that implementation will have the effect of causing teachers to critically evaluate the impact of their instruction for all students who are struggling in school.

According to James B. Hale, Ph.D. (2008):

  • The basic ideas of RTI were developed over a century ago in the behavioral traditions of psychology.  These ideas are relatively simple.  You collect data over time and adjust instruction until the child achieves success.
  • A teacher modifies instruction (intervention) to help a struggling child, and then checks the child’s progress regularly (called progress monitoring) to see if the intervention is working.  If the intervention is working, the problem is solved.  If the intervention is not working, you change the intervention and monitor progress.  This process continues until the chid improves.
  • RTI is what good teachers have always done to help struggling children learn.

According to The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC):

  • RTI has the ability to transform how we educate students – all students.  With RTI, students may get the support they need as soon as they show signs that they are having difficulty learning, regardless of whether or not they have a disability.
  • Teachers who have used RTI agree that it is not a “one-size-fits-all” type of teaching.  They also see the benefits, yet may be leery of the changes.
  • RTI catches kids early and lets no one fall through the cracks.

According to Eric Mesmer and Heidi Anne Mesner  (2008/2009, Reading Teacher):

  • RTI is a process that incorporates both assessment and intervention so that immediate benefits come to the student.
  • Despite the challenges with RTI, we have seen this approach increase the quantity and quality of instruction to struggling readers.


Thanks to the teachers, school psychologists, administrators, support persons, and interventionists in Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Texas, South Dakota, Illinois, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, (and still updating) for sharing their ideas of what works.  The following topics are from you! (I’m not particularly endorsing the following, but providing a “grocery list” of responses for you to reflect or research.  For interventions and assessments, check out


  • Teacher observation
  • Early Reading Interventions
  • Extended groups and extended times
  • Read Naturally
  • Road to the Code
  • Recipe for Reading
  • Enrichment Groups
  • Differentiated Instruction
  • Outside Volunteers (University interns, retired teachers)
  • Small groups
  • Guests to assist
  • Zoo Phonics
  • Reading Recovery
  • Peer Assisted Learning
  • Go Phonics
  • Touch Phonics
  • Rite Flight
  • Voyager
  • Read/Write
  • Great Source
  • Peer tutoring
  • Reading Labs, Math Labs
  • Leveled activities for small groups
  • Running Records
  • Computer programs
  • Literacy groups
  • Lexia
  • Grade Level Competencies
  • Writer’s Workshop
  • Support with mini-lessons
  • Phonics Club
  • Ability-based groups (DRA levels)
  • Group high/low
  • High interest
  • Personalize instruction
  • Background knowledge
  • Centers/stations


  • Wilson Reading
  • Stepping Stones
  • Monitor, don’t track
  • Differentiate with resources of paraprofessionals
  • Class performance
  • Organization
  • Progress Monitoring
  • Documentation
  • Frequent meetings with RTI teams
  • Tier III – meets two times a day in my school
  • Classroom observations
  • Checklists
  • Reading Specialists
  • Partners
  • Inclusive Classrooms
  • Title I Services
  • Parents Included
  • Instruction Support Teams
  • Flexible Groupings


  • Folder for each student
  • Keep info in binder with dividers for each student
  • Organized Literacy Coach
  • Spreadsheets
  • Literacy Coach meets with interventionists to report to RTI Team
  • Use a computer for notetaking in team meetings, then forward notes to all
  • Roving guest teacher, so grade level visits for one hour
  • Files that progress with students
  • Standardized documents across grade levels
  • Eduphoria
  • Palm Pilot
  • Tasks data
  • Organize records by grade level
  • “Data Days” release time to look at all students after assessments: then move students around depending upon results
  • Creating a master schedule for collaborative planning time
  • Daily log of work with each student, including problems child encountered as well as strengths
  • Using Excel to organize records
  • Portfolios
  • Early Reading Interventions
  • Share success with administration


  • State Assessments, ELPA, MEAP, MLPP, NWEA, FCAT
  • DRA
  • Read Naturally
  • Jerry Johns
  • Star – Early Literacy
  • Fontas and Pinell Benchmarks
  • Terra Nova
  • Observations
  • Brigance
  • Running Records
  • Saxon Phonics
  • Rigby
  • DRA 2
  • District Benchmarks
  • Fluency Probes
  • Classwork/Grades/Student Work
  • Letter identification
  • MClass
  • A+ Computer
  • Woodcock Johnson Performance Series
  • Overall assessments 3x a year
  • Grade level assessments
  • Focus groups
  • IOWA
  • Writing portfolios
  • Every Monday, small groups of 3-5 for progress monitoring

The following Response to Intervention (RTI) professional books are some of my favorites.  And, because you’ve asked me about ordering some of these, you can click on a book and order from

Hot off the press from Corwin Press – 2010 Copyright!  A great book to use for PLC (Professional Learning Communities) focusing on Tier 3 with a case study approach.

Another hot off the press book, 2010 copyright and highly recommended – a very Teacher-Friendly Resource!

A great resource, looking at the RTI Model and including both behavior and academics.

As a teacher of reading, your role is very important in implementing RTI – great resource from Douglas Fuchs, Lynn Fuchs, and Sharon Vaughn

Another great resource from Shores and Chester – focusing on school improvement… Using RTI for School Improvement: Raising Every Student’s Achievement Scores, by Cara Shores and Kim Chester.  This is a joint publication from Corwin Press and the Council for Exceptional Children.  A step-by-step approach to implementing RTI to maximize school performance and student achievement.

Reading strategies for RTI that are teacher-friendly and easy to implement successfully.

Dr. Allington always comes up with thought-provoking information.  Check out this newer RTI edition of No Quick Fix.

Implementing Response to Intervention: A Principal’s Guide, by Susan Hall – An action plan for putting the RTI model in motion, emphasizing the critical role that administrators play in the process.

Dr. Mellard provides us with a real practitioner’s guide to implementing RTI, while encouraging us to think.

A Response to Intervention book with the teacher in mind by Bender and Shores.

Dr. Dick Allington (2009) gives us “What Really Matters in Response to Intervention: Research-Based Designs”  Another quality resource with a book club study guide.

Strategies for the “Big Five” – phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.  A great resource for Tier I.

The Fluent Reader: Oral Strategies for Building Word Recognition, Fluency, and Comprehension, by Dr. Timothy Rasinsky – Wonderful strategies for building fluency and more.

Classroom Management in Photographs – Not really a book specific to RTI, but a great resource for organizing strategies in Tier I.

Not a book specific to RTI, but author Melissa Forney has great writing strategies that can easily be implemented in Tier I.

In addition…

What are some schools doing to assist the implementation of a successful RTI process?  Kimberly Messinger, RTI/Literacy Coach from Upper Dauphin Elementary School in Lykens, Pennsylvania, shared that her principal, Kate Dwinal, had the vision of turning an empty classroom into an RTI Resource Room. Kim accepted the challenge and with great enthusiasm, transitioned the room (with the help of some of her colleagues!) into a teacher-friendly environment full of resources and meeting space.  There teachers can find intervention materials, professional books, assessments, and share ideas with each other.  Take a peek at part of the room… (and reflect – what can you do at your school?)

The following materials may be effective for use  in  Tier I, II, and/or III…  Strategies you may use within the intervention program that you already have in place:

TouchPhonics by EPS

EZC Readers are easy accommodations for tracking, building fluency, focusing…  

And here is the EZC Reader for phonics chunking, highlighting word parts.

AquaDoodle, An effective alternative to writing with pencil/paper.  Water-filled pen writes on special writing pad.

Sometimes, resources already in your school may be used for RTI, even items prepackaged in literacy kits.  Inventory what you already have…  What might meet the criteria for RTI?  This “Phonological Awareness and Early Literacy Assessment Book” is part of a pre-k kit from the Wright Skills.

RTI References:

Multiple Intelligences Survey:

Use with students to expand your knowledge of their strengths and weaknesses.

Try it yourself, first!