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Checklist for Using RTI to Promote Reading Achievement

This is a checklist to help educators carry out the five recommendations made in the What Works Clearninghouse report Assisting Students Struggling with Reading: Response to Intervention (RTI) and Multi-Tier Intervention in the Primary Grades.

The Education Department’s Institute of Education Sciences looked at the research and literature to determine what works best to help educators identify students in need of intervention and implement evidence-based interventions to promote their reading achievement.

Following is a checklist to help educators carry out the five recommendations — including how to address potential roadblocks in implementing them — contained in the report, “Assisting Students Struggling with Reading: Response to Intervention (RTI) and Multi-Tier Intervention in the Primary Grades.”

Recommendation 1

Screen all students for potential reading problems at the beginning of the year and again in the middle of the year. Regularly monitor the progress of students who are at elevated risk for developing reading disabilities.

  • Create a building-level team to facilitate the implementation of universal screening and progress monitoring.
  • Select a set of efficient screening measures that identify children at risk for poor reading outcomes with reasonable degrees of accuracy.
  • Use benchmarks or growth rates (or a combination of the two) to identify children at low, moderate, or high risk for developing reading difficulties (Schatschneider, 2006).

Recommendation 2

Provide differentiated reading instruction for all students based on assessments of students’ current reading levels (tier 1).

  • Provide training for teachers on how to collect and interpret student data on reading efficiently and reliably.
  • Develop data-driven decision rules for providing differentiated instruction to students at varied reading proficiency levels for part of the day.
  • Differentiate instruction - including varying time, content, and degree of support and scaffolding — based on students’ assessed skills.

Recommendation 3

Provide intensive, systematic instruction on up to three foundational reading skills in small groups to students who score below the benchmark score on universal screening. Typically, these groups meet between three and five times a week for 20 to 40 minutes (tier 2).

  • Use a curriculum that addresses the components of reading instruction (comprehension, fluency, phonemic awareness, phonics, and vocabulary) and relates to students’ needs and developmental levels.
  • Implement this program three to five times a week, for approximately 20 to 40 minutes.
  • Build skills gradually and provide a high level of teacher-student interaction with opportunities for practice and feedback.

Recommendation 4

Monitor the progress of tier 2 students at least once a month. Use these data to determine whether students still require intervention. For those students still making insufficient progress, schoolwide teams should design a tier 3 intervention plan.

  • Monitor progress of tier 2 students on a regular basis using grade appropriate measures. Progress monitoring should occur at least eight times during the school year.
  • While providing tier 2 instruction, use progress monitoring data to identify students needing additional instruction.
  • Consider using progress monitoring data to regroup tier 2 students approximately every six weeks.

Recommendation 5

Provide intensive instruction on a daily basis that promotes the development of the various components of reading proficiency to students who show minimal progress after reasonable time in tier 2 small group instruction (tier 3).

  • Implement concentrated instruction that is focused on a small but targeted set of reading skills.
  • Adjust the overall lesson pace.
  • Schedule multiple and extended instructional sessions daily.
  • Include opportunities for extensive practice and high-quality feedback with one-on-one instruction.
  • Plan and individualize tier 3 instruction using input from a school-based RTI team.
  • Ensure that tier 3 students master a reading skill or strategy before moving on.

Gersten, R., Compton, D., Connor, C.M., Dimino, J., Santoro, L., Linan-Thompson, S., and Tilly, W.D. (2008). Assisting students struggling with reading: Response to Intervention and multi-tier intervention for reading in the primary grades. A practice guide. (NCEE 2009-4045). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from

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