Response to Intervention: What Parents Need to Ask Their Child’s School




Response To Intervention (RTI) is a multi-tier approach to the early identification and support of students with learning and behavior needs. A framework that an increasing number of schools use to provide struggling students with extra help, different schools approach RTI in different ways. If your child is struggling, here are some questions to ask about how the school provides extra help and how you can participate in the process.

What Parents Should Ask the School About RTI
  • Does the school use a systematic approach to provide extra help for students? What do you call this approach? Response to intervention (RTI)? Multi-tier system of supports (MTSS)?
  • Do you have any written information you can give me about this approach?
  • What screening process do you use to identify students who need extra help?
  • Are all parents notified of their child’s screening results?
  • What process do you use to determine which intervention to provide?
  • Who will be providing intervention services for my child, and what are their qualifications?
  • What interventions and instructional programs are used? Is there any research data that supports their effectiveness?
  • What kinds of training do teachers get on each intervention program?
  • How much time will my child spend each week in intervention? How will that effect academic performance in all classes/subjects?
  • How often will you assess my child’s progress, and how is progress measured?
  • How long will you try an intervention before determining whether or not my child is making adequate progress?
  • In what way and how often are parents updated about progress?
  • Can you give me a written intervention plan for my child?
  • Will I get information about how to support my child’s learning at home? From whom will I receive it?
  • Will students receiving interventions miss important instruction in the classroom?
  • How does the school make sure that all students are receiving high-quality instruction?
  • Will RTI data be used to help determine the need for special education?
  • If my child is already receiving special education services, how can RTI help?

Parents will always have questions, but often are uncertain of exactly what to ask and to whom to address any questions or concerns. Ultimately, they want reassurance that staff at schools are acting in the best interest of their child.  Empower parents with pertinent information about school policies and procedures, especially any strategic interventions that directly target or impact their child at school. Parents are better equipped to advocate for their child when they are included in the process, and are eager to build partnerships with schools when they are kept apprised of all things ‘their child’.

Schools shouldn’t leave it up to the family to understand how to navigate the school Besides, many parents will only hear, “blah, blah, blah”- when terms like RTI, school jargon, is used by teachers and staff. It is advisable that educators refrain from using terminology and acronyms when speaking with parents, unless we preface conversations with definitions fully explaining them. Don’t assume that every parent will understand the things we throw at them, for it perpetuates the notion that educators are the ‘experts’ and so everything is best left to those who know ‘better’. Keep them ‘in the loop’ as experts on their child. It pays off for everyone, especially the children. Tell parents what they should know, and think about them as if you were in their shoes. Wouldn’t you have questions?




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