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7 Keys to Special Education within RTI-MTSS

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7 Keys to Special Education within RTI-MTSS


  1. We initiate IEPs with the expectation that they’ll work – that students will develop skills & strategies that empower them to be successful without an IEP.
  2. Students with IEPs are students first & must be served within all tiers of support.
  3. Specifically targeting student needs, & not engaging in curriculum catch-up, should be the goal of special education teachers’ time with students with IEPs.
  4. When strategically assessing within the finite formal evaluation time frame, we ask, “What unique supports would or could students receive within special education that they are not receiving now? What evidence will communicate to staff, the student, & parents that special education supports are no longer necessary? 
  5. All students must have access to the core through scaffolded & differentiated supports within the least restrictive environments.
  6. Readiness for entry into a four-year college or a skilled career is the goal & expectation for every student with an IEP (with the understanding that enrollment in a four-year college will not be the pathway for all; it will be an option).
  7. Executive functioning, self-regulation, growth mindsets, & perseverance are critical skills for students with IEPs, as they are for all students, & development of these skills must be modeled, taught, & nurtured.


Instruction & Intervention Systems ensure high levels of learning for all students at all readiness levels through the integration of elements from the most important & impactful initiatives within public education: response to intervention (RTI), multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS), professional learning communities (PLCs), positive behavior interventions & supports (PBIS), universal design for learning (UDL), special education, gifted education, & differentiated instruction. 

Most directly & significantly, Instruction & Intervention Systems build upon RTI, a proactive, coordinated, & systemic approach to providing academic & behavioral supports for all students. Instruction & Intervention Systems are among the most-research-based initiatives with which educators can engage (Bloom, 1968; 1984; Burns & Symington, 2002; Burns, Appleton, & Stehouwer, 2005; Elbaum, Vaughn, Hughes, & Moody, 2000; Gersten, Compton, Connor, Dimino, Santoro, Linan-Thompson, et al., 2009a; Gersten, Beckmann, Clarke, Foegen, Marsh, Star, et al., 2009b; Hattie, 2012; Swanson & Sachse-Lee, 2000; VanDerHeyden, Witt, & Gilbertson, 2007).


RTI is a verb, as in, “To what extent are students responding to instruction & intervention? To what extent are students RTI’ing.” To extend the metaphor, RTI is not a noun. There are multiple methods & approaches to designing systems of supports based on the principles & practices of RTI for each & every student. Each school has local, contextual needs that require local, contextual solutions. 

© 2016. Chris Weber Education. Design by Cleverbirds.