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Response to Intervention (RTI)

This is a multi-step process that provides early and effective assistance to children who learn differently. When students have not met the teacher’s learning goals, the teacher and others identify what changes they need to make in instruction, and then closely monitor student progress and each stage of the intervention. Teachers use this progress data to make decisions about the need for additional evidence-based instruction or intervention in general education, special education or both.

What do we want all students to learn?

Cortez School District’s curriculum requires students to learn the skills and knowledge identified in district, state, and national standards. Teachers identify what students need to learn to be ready to move to the next grade level. As students move through the school system, they should acquire the skills and knowledge they need to enter college or the world of work by the time they graduate from high school.

How will we know if students have learned what we want them to learn?

Teachers assess student learning daily to determine whether students have acquired the skills and knowledge they need to meet academic performance standards. Teachers use personal observation, student performance on classroom assignments, quizzes, assessments aligned with grade-level learning goals, district assessments, and state and national standardized tests.

What will we do if they don’t know; and what will we do if they already know?

When assessments show that students haven’t learned the concepts that were taught, teachers use the information to identify the particular concept or skill that the student has had difficulty grasping and why. The teacher then develops and uses an “intervention” -- or an alternative teaching method -- to address the specific needs of the student. Ongoing monitoring of student progress helps to determine whether the intervention was effective, or whether it needs to be modified. If a student continues to lag behind grade-level goals despite the interventions that the teacher and professional learning communities have used, the student may be referred to a school-level Student Study Team.

This process is also implemented for students who grasp concepts quickly and are ready to move ahead of their peers.

Levels of intervention and educational support

Schools are required to show that all students receive a core curriculum that research has demonstrated to be effective for the majority of students. When students struggle (either because they are having difficulty learning, or because they already know a concept), teachers are required to change their instruction address each student’s needs or with small groups of students.

Teachers will closely monitor student progress resulting from these educational changes to be sure that they are effective for each student. Teachers will share those results with the student’s parents/guardians regularly. The results again will be used to determine whether a strategy or intervention needs to be changed to better support student learning.

The RtI process is often represented as a circle: teach, assess, intervene; teach, assess, intervene. As student learning challenges become more serious, teachers provide students with more intensive instruction and support. Individual students may receive supports from more than one Tier at the same time. For example, a student may receive education within Tier 1 (core or general education) for reading, social studies, or science, and receive Tier 3 supports for math. The tiers indicate the intensity of interventions rather than a classification or label for an individual student.

Tiered supports within an RtI process are available for all areas of instruction, including academics, behavior/emotional development, and advanced learning.

Tier 1 – Continuum of interventions available to all students

Initially, schools check for overall academic and behavioral achievement through regularly administered universal screening, district, and state assessments. We use these assessment results to identify those students who need more or different opportunities to address either an area of weakness or an area of exceptional strength.

Differentiated instruction and various evidence-based teaching strategies are used in the general education classroom to address differences in student learning and student needs. Staff monitor each student’s response to these educational changes to make sure the strategies are working.

Individual Literacy Plans

The Colorado Basic Literacy Act (CBLA) requires schools to develop an Individual Literacy Plan (ILP) for students as soon as the “body of evidence” from a variety of assessments indicates that students are not reading at grade level. The literacy plan identifies specific strategies to address a student’s reading deficits. Any student who reads below grade level may be placed on an ILP. An important component of the ILP requires parents to read or practice reading with their students at home.

Student Study Team

The Student Study Team may be used any time a student has a problem that interferes with learning. The team may include the student’s teachers, school administrator, counselor, school psychologist, nurse, and parents. The team reviews available data from the classroom, school records, and previous interventions and makes further recommendations in the area of concern.

Tier 2

Some students have needs that are too great to be addressed effectively through differentiation and ‘whole classroom’ strategies. For these students, teachers and other staff work together to select targeted interventions that are put in place within general education. Student progress is monitored to be sure that the intervention is working.

Tier 2 interventions may include other staff in addition to general education teachers, such as reading specialists, Title I teachers, counselors, paraprofessionals, etc. Some examples of Tier 2 interventions are:

  • Additional tutoring with a parent or community volunteer, before, during, and after school
  • Small-group instruction with a reading or math specialist
  • Participation in supplementary reading or math program or class

Students who respond well to the Tier 2 intervention and again are learning at levels similar to their grade-level peers and consistent with state standards will no longer need the intervention. These students will return to instruction through the core general education curriculum.

Students who are responding adequately to the intervention but are not yet back at expected levels will continue with the intervention. Again, progress is monitored frequently and interventions are adjusted or changed based upon how the student responds to the intervention.

A few students will not show the growth expected as a result of the evidence-based intervention, and at this point the Student Study Team again reviews the data and may determine that an additional Tier 2 intervention should be used, or they may determine that a more intensive intervention is indicated.

Tier 3

Students who need even more individualized support move to Tier 3 interventions. At this point, it is likely that a “problem-analysis” meeting will be held with school staff, parents and the student (as appropriate). The problem-analysis meeting will identify the cause(s) of the academic or behavioral difficulty, so that a more appropriate and effective individualized intervention can be used.

Interventions put in place at Tier 3 are typically more intense and show stronger evidence of their effectiveness with students who are struggling. They may be implemented more frequently, in smaller groups and for longer periods of time during the school day.

Students who respond well to a Tier 3 intervention may move back to Tier 2, and then to Tier 1 core curriculum. Other students will show a need for ongoing intensive and individualized interventions, and will continue receiving Tier 3 supports. At this point, a team (including parents) may recommend a referral for consideration for eligibility for Special Education and/or Gifted Education services within Tier 3.

If your child is referred for special education, will will obtain parent permission for the evaluation. After you’ve signed the Permission for Initial Evaluation, we must develop an Individual Education Plan (IEP) within 60 calendar days.

Evaluation for consideration for Special Education

We will use a variety of assessment tools, strategies, interviews, and observations to gather relevant functional, developmental, and academic information about your student.

We will notify you in writing, in advance about your child’s IEP meeting. We will make every effort to ensure that you understand IEP proceedings. We can provide an interpreter for parents with hearing loss or whose native language is other than English.

What is an IEP?

An IEP (Individualized Education Plan) is a written summary that defines activities and goals to meet the student’s educational needs. It is a collaborative effort to create the best instructional program for the student who has an identified disability. It identifies the educational supports that a student needs to ensure his or her educational success. We review students’ IEPs annually to ensure that they’re making progress toward their goals and to set new learning goals for the following year.

What to Expect at the IEP Meeting

When the evaluation is completed, the special education team will meet with you and your student to share the evaluation results and any other pertinent information. The team includes the parent/guardian; the regular classroom teacher; special education teacher; school psychologist, and possibly the district nurse. The team also may include additional specialists as appropriate. We will review and discuss the child’s present level of academic achievement and functional performance, including educational strengths and needs. We will identify specifically designed instruction and accommodations, if necessary, for your student to participate in the general curriculum and/or appropriate activities. We’ll also identify accommodations, if needed, for district assessments and CSAP test administration. The IEP team will make a determination of disability.

If the team determines that the child has a disability, we will develop measurable annual goals and a plan to enable the child to successfully meet those goals. If the team determines that the student does not have a disability, we will identify regular education programming to ensure the student’s educational success.

In either case, parents will receive a final copy of the child’s IEP, and the IEP team will provide key school personnel with individually tailored recommendations to serve the student.


** Please note that identification of students with SLD is no longer determined by the achievement/ability discrepancy formula. Instead, the Response to Intervention (RtI) process is used, which examines existing school data as well as progress monitoring data related to specific interventions. A Specific Learning Disability is determined through the RTI process.

Trying to wade your way through the sea of acronyms can be a confusing process.

The following list contains common acronyms that you may encounter:



ADD - Attention Deficit Disorder

ADHD - Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder

APE - Adaptive Physical Education ASDB

BIP - Behavior Improvement Plan

CDE - Colorado Department of Education

CP - Cerebral Palsy

CPR - Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation

CST - Child Study Team

DD - Developmental Disability/Developmental Delay

ESY - Extended School Year

FAPE - Free Appropriate Public Education

FBA - Functional Behavior Assesment

HI - Hearing Impairment

IDEA - Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

IEP - Individualized Education Plan

SLD - Specific Learning Disability

LRE - Least Restrictive Environment

MD - Multiple Disabilities or Muscular Dystrophy

NCLB - No Child Left Behind

O & M - Orientation and Mobility

OT - Occupational

PT - Physical Therapy

RTI - Response to Intervention

Section 504 - Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act

SAT - Stanford Achievement Test

SJBOCES - San Juan Board of Cooperative Educational Services

SLI - Speech Language Impairment

SLP - Speech Language Pathologist

TBI - Traumatic Brain Injury

TVI - Teacher of the Visually Impaired

VI - Visual Impairment

VR - Vocational Rehabilitation




Q. My Preschool child does not appear to be performing skills or developing at the same rate as other children his/her age. Does the Cortez Public School district/SJBOCES assist parents in addressing these concerns?

A. Preschool screening is required as part of state and federal Child Find
mandates. Parents may request screening for children ages 2 years 6
months to 5 years of age throughout the year to determine if there is a
developmental need warranting additional evaluation. Screenings are
conducted locally, and appointments can be made by calling Pam Wilderson – Early Child Find Coordinator at (970) 565-8411.

Q. When I move into Cortez Public School District, and my child was
receiving special education services in another district, who should
I let know?

A. You should bring any records to the school that you have concerning special
education. Let the registrar/secretary know that your child is currently receiving services
in special education. The registrar will give your information to the school
psychologist/SJBOCES. The school psychologist will review the information. The
appropriate school members will review and meet with you to discuss the
program your child may need.

Q. How do I get my child tested for a specific learning disability?

A. The Cortez School District uses the RTI (Response to Intervention) process to determine whether a child has a specific learning disability. This may not require formal testing, but rather a process of "best practices" and targeted interventions.

400 North Elm Street | Cortez, CO 81321 | Phone: 970.565.7522