Building Support

Building support for the implementation of a Response-to-Intervention (RTI) model must first occur at the district and building administrator levels. When the district embraces and promotes the use of RTI as the primary method for determining the instructional and behavioral needs of all students—not just those experiencing difficulties learning—implementation proceeds more smoothly and is more likely to be successful. It is very difficult for a building principal to support implementation of this initiative if support is not apparent at the district level. In such a case, the particular building can operate as a “pilot” school. However, that building will not progress beyond the pilot stage unless district policies support RTI.


Similarly, the building administrator must support RTI. Implementation of the Three-Tier Approach to service delivery requires flexibility in roles and resources (both financial and instructional). Decisions regarding distribution of building-level resources are the primary responsibility of the building administrator. Because these decisions are critical to the implementation of RTI, the participation and support of the building administration is necessary to ensure successful implementation.


Educators are receptive to change when two conditions exist: first, they understand the need for the change and, second, they believe that they either possess the skills necessary to implement the change or have the support for acquiring the skills necessary to implement the change. In addition, developing an understanding of the need for RTI depends on two key things: information dissemination and interpretation of school-based data.


First, the need for RTI can be made quite clear when information on the “why” of RTI is presented, along with information on the impact this model has on student performance. The following are the typical areas where information can be provided in support of the need to change to an RTI approach:


  1. The adequate yearly progress (AYP) requirements of No Child Left Behind and state departments of education.
  2. The inclusion of RTI in the regulations for the implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004.
  3. The research evidence that supports the positive impact of RTI on student performance, particularly in reducing disproportionality (overrepresentation) and improving the academic and behavioral performance of students.
  4. The positive effects of having a consistent model and procedures that are used to make educational decisions for all students.


Second, the district and/or building leadership team can provide data on student performance and ask the question, “Are we happy with the data?” It is difficult to rationalize the continuation of business as usual when student data do not indicate that the current strategies are effective. The presentation and interpretation of district and/or building data is the most effective method of achieving support.


Evidence of System-Level Support


The creation of both a district leadership team (DLT) and a school-based leadership team (SBLT) to guide implementation of the RTI process is evidence that initial support has been established for this initiative. Establishing implementation support is discussed in the Developing a Plan section, but here are some examples of the composition of these important teams. The DLT usually has the following members:


  • Superintendent or representative
  • Supervisor of curriculum and instruction
  • Supervisor of student services
  • Supervisor of special education
  • Instructional support supervisors


The SBLT typically comprises the following individuals:


  • Principal/assistant principal
  • Reading/math specialist
  • Behavior specialist
  • Student services personnel (e.g., school psychologist)
  • General education teacher
  • Special education teacher
  • Parent representative

Staff and Roles and Responsbilities


A frequently asked question is, “How do the roles and responsibilities of educators change when RTI is implemented?” The answer is that roles and responsibilities are likely to flex rather than change dramatically. Here are some guidelines for staff roles and responsibilities in this model.

District Leaders

  • Give “permission” for the model
  • Provide a vision for outcome-based service delivery
  • Reinforce effective practices
  • Expect accountability
  • Provide tangible support for the effort
    • Training
    • Coaching
    • Technology
    • Policies

Building Principal

  • Sets a vision for the problem-solving process
  • Supports development of expectations
  • Responsible for allocation of resources
  • Facilitates priority setting
  • Ensures follow-up
  • Supports program evaluation
  • Monitors staff support/climate

Leadership Team Facilitator

  • Ensures pre-meeting preparation
  • Reviews steps in the process and desired outcomes
  • Facilitates movement through steps
  • Facilitates consensus building
  • Sets follow-up schedule/communication
  • Creates evaluation criteria/protocol
  • Ensures parent involvement

Team Participants (Teachers, Student Services, Instructional Support)

  • Review Request for Assistance forms prior to meeting
  • Complete individual problem solving
  • Maintain attitude of consensus building
  • Understand and interpret data
  • Research interventions for problem area


  • Review Request for Assistance form prior to meeting
  • Provide student information and participate in individual problem solving
  • Prioritize concerns
  • Maintain attitude of consensus building
  • Participate in intervention development, implementation, and evaluation


  • Participate in problem solving and development of interventions (adjusted for age)
  • Participate in goal setting and monitoring of progress toward the goal (or goals)



Building support for the RTI process is essential prior to initiating any changes or activities related to the delivery of instructional and support services for students. Ensuring that all staff understand the rationale for the process (i.e., the need for it) is critical. Take as much time as is necessary to achieve this support before proceeding with any infrastructure development. This will pay off in the long run.


Here are several “indicators” that the building support phase is successfully proceeding:


  1. A district leadership team is in place to shepherd this process.
  2. Implementation buildings have been identified.
  3. Building administrators involved in implementation work closely with the district leadership team and hold regular meetings to assess progress.
  4. A district blueprint has been developed (or is being developed) and the district leadership team is working with the building administrators to outline the process for building-level plans.
  5. District and building data have been reviewed to assess need.
  6. Building administrators have identified staff to serve on the school-based leadership team.
  7. The district infrastructure is in place to begin the building support phase at the school level.

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