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Response to intervention


Response to intervention is a way to learn if your child is having problems learning in school. It is also called RTI. Your child can get certain types of learning help through an RTI, if needed. It is a program from the United States Department of Education.  

Levels of RTI

There are 3 levels of RTI, called “tiers.” This is to make sure your child gets the amount of help she needs at the time. School staff and health providers can find the right RTI tier by doing tests, talking with your child, and in other ways.

The 3 tiers of RTI are below.

Tier 1

  • Your child uses the same books and other materials as other students. These books and materials are called the “core curriculum.” This tier is also called “high quality core curriculum in general education” and “school wide intervention.”
  • All students take specialized tests from time to time. Schools do this to find out if any students are struggling with learning from the core curriculum. 

What is specialized testing?

Specialized testing is a type of testing that measures how well students are learning from the books and materials they all use. The testing is called “curriculum based measurement,” or CBM, and “curriculum based assessment” or CBA.

Tier 2

  • If specialized testing shows your child has a risk of not making progress with the core curriculum, she can receive specialized help in certain areas. For example, if she struggles with reading, the school can provide specialized reading help. 
  • In Tier 2, your child takes specialized tests from time to time. If the specialized instruction is helping, she might stay in Tier 2 or go back to Tier 1. If she is not making enough progress yet, your child might get different Tier 2 help or go to Tier 3.

Tier 3

  • If your child does not make enough progress or fast enough progress in Tier 2, she can go to Tier 3. In Tier 3, she can get more specialized instruction in certain areas.
  • In Tier 3, your child takes specialized tests from time to time. If your child makes progress, she might stay in Tier 3 or go back to Tier 2. If your child does not make progress, she can get more help called “individualized, intensive intervention.” This might be different Tier 3 help. Or your child might get testing with a “full and individual evaluation” to learn if special education is needed.

How does RTI help?

RTI has the following benefits:

  • Close attention and specialized testing
  • Specialized instruction in certain areas
  • Teaching designed to meet a student’s specific needs
  • Specialized testing, special education, or both

How can I ask for RTI?

Talk to teachers and staff at your child’s school about RTI. Here are some questions you might want to ask.

  • Does the school provide RTI?
  • What books and other materials are used in the classroom?
  • What specialized testing do you use to find students who are struggling?
  • What instruction does the school give in certain areas, such as reading?
  • What teaching methods do you use to help students with learning concerns?

You can also ask the school to consider special education for your child. You can ask at any time when you are asking about RTI. If you want the school to consider special education, write a letter to them asking for a “full and individual evaluation” for your child.


If you have questions about RTI, ask your child’s psychologist, neuropsychologist, teacher, school counselor, or principal. You may also call the St. Jude Psychology Clinic at 901-595-3581.

Important terms to know about RTIs

Curriculum based measurement and curriculum based assessment: Types of specialized testing that show if students are making progress as expected. Students can take these tests with core curriculum or with Tier 2 and Tier 3 RTI instruction.

Full and individual evaluation: Testing to learn if a child qualifies for special education.

Individualized, intensive intervention: Specialized teaching for one (1) student’s needs in certain learning areas.

Multi-tier approach: A program with more than one (1) level. RTI has a “multi-tier approach” because students can be in Tier 1, Tier 2, or Tier 3. They can also go back and forth between the different tiers.

Response to intervention (RTI): A way to learn if a child is having problems learning in school. With an RTI, your child can get specialized teaching if needed.

Screening: Specialized testing to find out if any students are struggling with learning from the core curriculum. Schools also use it to find out if students are making progress in learning.

Targeted, supplemental instruction: Specialized teaching in certain areas, in addition to regular instruction. Your child can have this in Tier 2 or Tier 3 of RTI.


This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

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