Ep. 31 What are the 3 Tiers of RtI and Where Does Dyslexia Intervention Fit In?

Dec 22, 2023

I recently had a parent contact me who was confused about RtI Tier 2 language used in a meeting. (And rightfully so!) It’s not uncommon to feel like your head is spinning after an education meeting where different acronyms are thrown around. This is what I refer to as “edu speak.” In this episode, I detail the three tiers of RtI and explain how dyslexia intervention fits into the process. 

RtI stands for Response to Intervention. It is the first step toward receiving Special Education services in reading, and should only last 8–12 weeks. The RtI framework consists of three tiers divided like a triangle:

Tier 1: The bottom part of the triangle is Tier 1 general education, where students can work in small groups. Work is given at students’ skill level, though not necessarily individualized. Their progress is monitored and tracked.

Tier 2: Tier 2 students receive small group interventions for individualized and special teaching, but still take part in Tier 1 lessons and tasks. Students can move back to Tier 1 or into Tier 3 depending on their progress. 

Tier 3: is synonymous with Special Education (though not a replacement). Tier 3 students take part in small group instruction, individual instruction, or both. Tier 3 students spend most of the day with Tier 1 students, but spend portions of it in a resource or Special Education room. 

Universal screening scores can help identify those who need strategic or intensive support. Based on these scores, a dyslexic student may be moved into Tier 2 small group work, or Tier 3 — this is where reading intervention programs show up. While RtI cannot be used to excuse, delay, or deny Special Education services, it is a tool to support the process. 

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Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or on your favorite podcast platform.

Topics Covered:

  • A parent’s recent challenge with “edu speak”
  • What RTI stands for
  • Tier 1: General Education
  • Tier 2: Students who are struggling in Tier 1
  • Tier 3: Synonymous with Special Education
  • The testing process within the RTI framework
  • Details about the RTI process


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