Response To Intervention Speech

Response to Intervention Speech Therapy. What I Know NOW!

After working a few years in schools, my understanding of response to intervention (RTI) has broaden. I will give you a brief overview of RTI and how it applies to speech and language. Then, I have some MUST HAVE materials for you, to make your life a little easier. 

First things first, let’s review some frequently asked questions about RTI.

Reponse To Intervention Speech Therapy

What Is Response To Intervention Speech Therapy?

Response to intervention is a fluid, 3 tiered level system of support designed for all students. The main idea is that student’s needs are identified (difficulty with math, reading, speech, writing, language development, behavior, social skills) and then targeted as needed (tier 1, tier 2, or tier 3). The level of support will match the level of need. 

Response to intervention is rolled out through GENERAL EDUCATION and isn’t a branch of special education. 

 I took some time to wrap my head around and I'm glad I finally got it!

What Does Each Tier Mean?

Tier One: All students are given a research-based curriculum. There is progress monitoring completed by teachers to make sure all students are learning at the expected rate.

Tier Two: Children who are not progressing at an expected rate may receive an extra small group instruction, accommodations, and/or individual compensatory strategies (this will depend on the school/resources/program/student population).

Tier Three: Intensive intervention usually implemented by a specialist. Each student has individual goals. Progress at this level is monitored, and the student is moved back to tier 2 when able or moved to an evaluation through the special education department if progress is not being made. 


  • The specific details of each tier will depend on each school. This is just a general idea.
  • Depending on progress, students can move in and out of tiers throughout the school year.
  • If you want more information on RTI, please refer to RTI Network.

How Does Speech Therapy Fit Into RTI?

As speech pathologists, we are part of the of the general education team (I kind of forget that from time to time). As a member of the general education team, we can support RTI. However, REMEMBER, RTI is part of GENERAL EDUCATION and NOT special education. You are NOT there to pick up every at-risk student and magically fix them in your magic speech room. 

Instead, we are there to:

  • support teachers and staff
  • share expertise
  • complete speech/language screenings
  • guide instruction if needed, 
  • provide classroom compensatory strategies for students
  • help create accommodations
  • provide tier 3 speech and language services for a set amount of time to see if progress can be made (if needed!)

How Does a Student Qualify  Speech Services?

This will depend on your school and your resources. I use a screening tool that has been standardized specifically for my school’s population. This screening tools is a GUIDE.

I also use: 

  • clinical judgement
  • observations
  • information from discussions during problem-solving meetings
  • data from trials of tier 2 strategies such as organizers, planners, directions paired with visuals

With the information collected, I may qualify a student to receive tier 2 or 3 services if needed.

Tier 2 may be classroom modifications/strategies.

Tier 3 may be intensive treatment where the student has an individual goal. Services usually run for 10 weeks with bi-weekly data tracking. If a student is making great progress, moves to tier 2 or tier 1 immediately. For example, if a student can produce “th” at the sentence level, I may move him/her to tier 2 and give the general education teacher visual or verbal cues to use in the classroom. 

How Do You Set Goals?

From the data collected by means described above, I set a graph-able goal for the child’s specific area of need. Sorry I can’t be more specific here!!!

How Do You Measure Progress?

I use a Google form to collect data and measure progress. If you are interested in our RTI Start Up Program, you will have access to all of this information!

I know What You Are Thinking.... I Don’t Have Time for This!

This is what I thought when I worked in schools. I had my special education students who had an IEP and then I had to see all these RTI students as well. It was crazy for the first year because I started pulling every student who was referred by a teacher. I was “fixing them and sending them back.”

This is NOT RTI. This isn’t even special education. Remember, speech pathologists are part of the general education team as a support and wealth of knowledge. We are not miracle workers!

What does this mean you ask?

So, in simple terms, stop pulling all students. Put your trust in the problem solving process.  

You need to give a brief overview of speech and language development by age or grade (to cut down on referrals)

You need to attend problem solving meetings to give tips on classroom modifications/accommodations

Gather observation data, teacher interview and a quick screen

You need to pop into specials or the classroom to support all students and help model teaching strategies that reach students with lacking speech and language skills.

Help decipher between a speech/language delay and behavior disorders

All of these things must be exhausted before zooming a kid to tier 3 services.

This MAY seem like a lot of time but I assure it is not. It is PREVENTION! You catch kids before they need specialize help and support them. You help make them successful in the classroom. An evaluation and IEP takes more time…..I promise!

To get set up and save TIME, we have an RTI start up packet. Please click here to learn more. 

RTI Screening & Data Packet

We have a start up packet with all the response to intervention speech therapy materials to get you started! Read more about it here or buy now below. 

Buy Now!

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}