SMART RTI- What is that anyway?

In this post I would like to describe what is SMART RTI and the latest research from its authors as to how to continue improving RTI in school district and schools.
As I sat in my office this morning, I opened the most recent issue of the special education journal Exceptional Children and found SMART RTI!
According to the authors, SMART RTI is like SMART phones, cars or houses, which are using information oriented enhancements to make these tools work better and more efficiently–in Response to Intervention (RTI) this is an opportunity to look at the “Next Generation” approach to Multilevel prevention frameworks.
What is SMART RTI (or how I like to call it SmRTI?)
Fuchs, Fuchs, and Compton (2012) in their most recent article SMART RTI: A Next Generation Approach to Multilevel Prevention- explain that as districts and schools address the issue of RTI and the time and cost of resources for implementation they should also be thinking “out of the box” to improve the implementation of the model/framework. In their redesign of RTI their overall message recommends the following features:
1. Having multi- stage screening processed versus a 1 universal screening tool to determine the needed level of intervention (investment upfront with the hope of less false-positives).
2. Having Tier 3 or tertiary prevention that integrated data-based program modification with meaningful access to the curriculum, and clear explanation of movement across tiers inherent in student IEPs– for students with disabilities.

The authors make a great point in explaining the current limitations of RTI in districts and schools today, and offer new ideas that allow RTI to expand its ability to meet the needs of all students. The authors believe that primary (Tier 1) and secondary prevention (Tier 2) benefits from data-based problem solving and standard protocols practices but that we need “experimental” instruction in the tertiary interventions. Does this mean that Tier 3 is special education? No, I believe in their article the authors are talking about the unique needs of students with disabilities and how their needs will be met across the level of tiers recognizing that they will need tertiary interventions (Tier 3) that should be handled by special education teachers. At this point, special education teacher evaluate “meaningful” access to the general curriculum and wage it against the student’s current level of performance in designing instruction, but the authors don’t address the rest of the population of students who may at times need Tier 3 level of supports– students who are English language learners and low achievers in general, or students with emotional behavioral disorders.
The authors call for SMART RTI is welcome and critical at this point when districts and schools are hitting walls in time, resources, and the number of students who are not responding. We need to support this effort to move forward and to continue the current gains we have made to close the silos of education in practice. RTI has required by design that Offices of Special Education, Curriculum and Instruction, English Language Learners/Bilingual Education, and others collaborate; it has required that regular education, special education teachers and support personnel sit at the table and work together like never before to support all learners because of its ccles of progress monitoring, and its also made principals and headmasters become instructional leaders and consumers of data – we don’t want this to go away we want to make it more effective!

The article can be found at the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) in its premier publication Exceptional Children. Reference: Fuchs, D., Fuchs, L, Compton, D. (2012) SMART RTI: Next Generation Approach to Multilevel Prevention, Exceptional Children, 78(3), 23-279.

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