The initials MTSS/RtI represent Multi-Tiered Systems of Support/ Response-to-Intervention. MTSS/RtI is not a program, and it is not a department. Because it involves the whole child from behavior to academics, the MTSS/RtI process impacts all facets of the educational environment from the classroom to the lunchroom to the bus stop and through technology, may even reach into the home setting. When the latest revision of the IDEA [the federal law governing special education] passed in 2004, the law provided states with the opportunity to use MTSS/RtI as a method for identifying students with learning disabilities. Georgia’s state department of education responded to this opportunity by recommending implementation of the MTSS/RtI process in all schools in Georgia. Most students referred to special education are afforded interventions prior to referral or during the referral process.
In the Ware County School System, interventions begin in the classroom through differentiated instruction and teacher-directed interventions. This level is Tier 1. All students are screened in the fall, and the data from these screenings as well as data from state-mandated tests is reviewed by school-level teams, which include the MTSS/RtI interventionist and classroom teachers at a minimum. Those students who need more help than what classrooms typically provide are placed in MTSS/RtI labs, where more intense and individualized instruction is provided at Tier 2. Some students are referred to small group with direct instruction by a teacher who specializes in the area of student difficulty. Progress monitoring is maintained by interventionists to track student progress. The data review teams meet again to review each student’s progress, and if sufficient progress is not made, parents are invited to the meetings and students are sometimes referred for even more intense interventions at the Tier 3 level. Students who show improvement may return to Tier 2 or Tier 1, depending upon their level of improvement. Students who continue to demonstrate difficulty after the most intense level of intervention may be referred to special education for further evaluation. Students in special education are served in Tiers 1 through 3 with some students requiring minimal support and other students requiring intense supports.