RTI2 & Dyslexia Screening in TN

If you are brand new to dyslexia, please start here before reading this page. The progression of the RTI2 Tiers and how it interplays with Dyslexia Screeners, IEPs and 504s is very confusing to start.  If you get stuck, or get confused, don’t worry – you are not alone.  Just  go to our Facebook Chatgroup and a parent who has been through it all before will help you along.

RTI 2 (Response to Instruction and Intervention)Screen Shot 2018-03-21 at 3.20.18 PM

RTI2 is Tennessee’s Response to Instruction and Intervention.  According to the State Department of Education “RTI2 helps educators understand where students are and, through a multi-tiered system of support, assists them in moving forward.” Both the Tennessee Response to Instruction and Intervention Framework  and the Tennessee Dyslexia Resource Guide explain how RTI2 works for students who may have characteristics of dyslexia. Both are very long and complicated documents, but it is really important to understand the process that your child will go through on his or her dyslexia journey.

All Tennessee public school students are part of the RTI2 program, whether they are in Special Education or General Education. So, if you have a child in Tennessee public schools, your child is also in RTI2. However, RTI2 has three different tiers of instruction and intervention.

Screen Shot 2018-03-21 at 3.20.39 PMKeep in mind, the RTI2 tiers are fluid. A child who has dyslexia may be served in any tier, whether that child has an IEP or 504 or not. Children also may move in and out of tiers during the school year. The school’s RTI2 team makes decisions on a child’s tier placement, so it’s important to work closely with your child’s teacher as he/she is on that team. Part of what the team uses to determine placement is a universal screener (although this is only a guideline, and the team can decide to place the child in a different tier). If your child is placed in a tier that you disagree with, please speak with your child’s teacher.

Screen Shot 2018-03-21 at 3.21.01 PMUniversal Screener

In simple terms, this is a test given several times per year (usually 3), and it is used to guide judgement for RTI2 tier placement. Districts decide on which screener they wish to use (some use STAR, MAP or AIMSweb, for example). Under the new Saw Dyslexia Law, all students K-12 are required to be screened for Dyslexia as a part of this universal screener.

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Here are the tiers:

Tier 1

This tier is generally for students who score above the 25th percentile.

Tier 2

This tier is generally for students who fall below the 25th percentile on the screener. This places them into a more intensive intervention than Tier 1.

Tier 3 

This tier is usually for students who fall below the 10th percentile on the screener. This places them into a more intensive and longer intervention than Tier 2.

What is the RTI2 Intervention? 

The intervention for each tier is chosen by the school district, but it must meet the area of deficit shown by the screener. If your child has been deemed to have Characteristics of Dyslexia by the Universal Screener, then the Tennessee Dyslexia Law and the Tennessee Dyslexia Guide, Section VIII requires that your child receive dyselxia-specific Intervention in their RTI2 Tiered Intervention time. Again, you can refer to the Tennessee Dyslexia Guide Section VIII and Appendix H for more information about which programs qualify as dyslexia-specific under the law.

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If your child has been identified as having Characteristics of Dyslexia, make sure to ask if the intervention used in your child’s RTI2 Tier is dyslexia-specific. Not all schools are using programs that work. It is important that you double check and make sure your child is getting an intervention designed for students with dyslexia.  Do not just take your school’s word that the program they use works.  Please see more information about this topic on our Programs that Work page.


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