Challenges in Implementing Response to Intervention with Cult ...

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Abstract

This study examined the implementation of Response to Intervention (RTI), a legally mandated process to provide supports for academically struggling students, using a qualitative research case study approach to understand one student’s progress with RTI in one school in a west coast urban school district predominantly serving English Language learners. Its purpose was to learn if RTI benefitted culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students, such as English Language learners, towards reducing the over-representation of minority students in special education. Analysis yielded three major themes: language as a factor, RTI as an additional responsibility and RTI as a step towards special education. Findings suggest that, when teachers do not consider linguistic diversity as a compounding factor for academic difficulty, CLD students are particularly at risk for being identified for RTI intervention. Although RTI is primarily designed as a pre-emptive option to special education for struggling students, teachers tend to use it as a mechanism for steering students into special education.