Special Education in a 4-Year Response to Intervention (RtI) Environment: Characteristics of Students with Learning Disability and Grade of Identification


Requests for reprints should be sent to Rollanda E. O'Connor, UCR, Riverside. Electronic inquiries should be sent to rollanda.oconnor@ucr.edu.


This 4-year longitudinal research was designed to study special education determinations of students who participated in Tier 2 intervention in a Response to Intervention (RtI) model focused on reading across Grades 1–4. We compared identification rates for learning disabilities (LD) and student characteristics of 381 students the year prior to implementation with 377 students in the RtI environment. Across schools, 38–60 percent of students were English language learners (ELL). Key outcomes by Grade 4 for students with LD who had participated in a model of RtI were relatively greater reading impairment with effect sizes ranging from 0.64 to 0.82, and more equitable representation across ELL and native English speakers than in the cohort prior to RtI implementation. Notably, one-third of the students identified for special services as LD in these schools were not identified until 4th grade.