Chapter 1
VISION
Virginia Tiered System of Supports (VTSS) or Response to Instruction (RTI) in Augusta
County is a standards-based, student-centered instructional model to ensure student
growth, success, and pro-social behaviors. RTI provides high-quality
instruction/intervention matched to all students’ needs and uses student academic and
behavioral data to make important educational decisions to guide instruction.
DEFINITION AND PURPOSE
Augusta County Public Schools adopted the Virginia Tiered System of Supports (RTI) model
to provide academic and behavioral support in the general education classroom with the
goal of early intervention to ensure academic and behavioral growth. Virginia defines VTSS
as “primarily an instructional framework and philosophy, the goals and objective of which
include early intervention for students who struggle to attain or maintain grade-level
performance.” The overarching goal of RTI is to improve student achievement by using
research-based interventions matched to the instructional needs and levels of the students.
RTI is a comprehensive, multi‐tiered, standards-aligned process meant to enable early
identification and intervention for students at academic or behavioral risk. This process
allows educators to identify and address academic and behavioral difficulties prior to
student failure. The National Research Center on Learning Disabilities (NRCLD, 2006)
defines tiered support systems as:
“….an assessment and intervention process for systematically
monitoring student progress and making decisions about the need for
instructional modifications or increasingly intensified services using
progress monitoring data.”
RTI is an integrated approach to service delivery that encompasses all education—general,
remedial, and gifted—through a multi-tiered service delivery model. It utilizes a problemsolving framework to identify and address academic and behavioral difficulties for all
students using scientific, research-based instruction. Essentially, RTI is the practice of: (1)
providing high-quality instruction/intervention matched to all students’ needs and (2)
using learning rate over time and level of performance to (3) make important educational
decisions to guide instruction (National Association of State Directors of Special Education,
2005). RTI practices are proactive, incorporating both prevention and intervention, and
are effective at all levels from early childhood through high school.
RTI is a general education initiative written into the special education law. The language
that Congress uses in Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) and
Elementary and Secondary Education Act (NCLB 2001) stresses the use of professionally
sound interventions and instruction based on defensible research, as well as the delivery of
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effective academic and behavior programs to improve student performance. Congress
believes that as a result, fewer children will become “instructional casualties.”
Recent research shows that the use of multi-tiered models is an effective educational
practice within schools to bring high-quality instruction to all students. The key purposes of
RTI are: universal screening for all students, data-based decision making, school-wide
collaboration, progress monitoring, and evaluating the effectiveness of instruction and
interventions. The RTI concepts presented in this document make use of a three-tiered
approach that incorporates the aspects of a personalized education.
Instruction should be standards-based, student-centered, and rooted in data-driven
assessment with the consistent use of best instructional practices and materials that are
grounded in research. A holistic approach to problem solving will be used with each child,
taking into account cultural, social, and oral language factors. Parents will be considered as
partners with the school when making RTI decisions about their children.
The purpose of this manual is to provide information, guidance, and resources for schools to
implement RTI in Augusta County, RTI will be applied to reading, math, and behavior.
CHARACTERISTICS OF ACPS VTSS (RTI) FRAMEWORK
ACPS has defined its RTI framework around six major components as described below:
• Standards-aligned Instruction: All students receive high‐quality, research‐based
instruction in the general education standards‐aligned system. Instruction is
differentiated and provided with fidelity in flexible groups.
• Universal Screening: All students are screened to determine academic status against
grade‐level benchmarks three times a year.
• Shared Ownership: All staff (general education teachers, special education teachers,
Title I, ELL, intervention specialists, paraprofessionals) assume an active role in
students’ assessment and instruction in the standards‐aligned system.
• Data-Driven Decision Making: A team of educational professionals analyzes studentperformance data and guides school decisions on instructional changes, choices of
interventions, and appropriate rates of progress. Data sources include Universal
Screening, Benchmark Assessments, Outcome Assessments, and Progress Monitoring
Data.
• Tiered Intervention and Service Delivery System: Some students receive
increasingly intense levels of targeted, scientifically, research‐based interventions with
proven effectiveness dependent upon student need.
• Parental Engagement: Parents are an integral part of their children’s education and as
such will be an integral part of the RTI process. They will receive detailed information
regarding their children’s needs, the type, frequency and delivery of intervention
expected, and actual rates of progress, as well as their right to request a special
education referral at any time.
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Essentials
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All schools (Pre-K—8) will conduct Universal Screening (US) three times a year using
division provided assessments. High Schools will screen students using at-risk factors.
All (PreK-8) students taking SOL tests and scoring below the 25th percentile or PALS
assessment on the most recent universal screening shall be reviewed at Data Day.
For students referred for speech/language eligibility, speech and language pathologists
will consult with content interventionists regarding establishing goals in academic
area(s) of concern. Classroom teachers/interventionists will then provide progressmonitoring data to the eligibility team.
Tier 2 and Tier 3 progress monitoring data will be recorded in RTIm Direct.
Instructional planning by all teachers will be data-driven.
All schools will use a problem-solving model for communication and collaboration.
Teachers will utilize high quality, research-based instruction.
All schools will provide a designated time for intervention. PreK – 8 schools should
designate time each day.
Standards-Aligned Instruction
The most critical element in the RTI framework is the provision of high-quality, standards‐
aligned instruction to all students using scientific, research-based instruction and
intervention delivered with fidelity in all areas of instruction. This means that what
students are taught (core curriculum), how students are taught (instructional practices),
and how students are assessed are aligned to the SOLs in both content and cognitive levels.
This instructional alignment is the first step in implementing a RTI framework.
Aligned instruction comprises the following activities:
• Teaching topics that are aligned with the standards.
• Ensuring an appropriate level of challenge.
• Focusing teaching based on the learning needs of each student.
• Implementing instructional strategies that 'scaffold', or build, on each other to help
students achieve the standards.
• Ensuring that the practices and curriculum have demonstrated validity.
• Determining and articulating behaviors, conditions, and criteria for success in each
lesson.
The alignment of standards-based curriculum, effective instructional practices, and aligned
assessments form the foundation for RTI that is critical to improve student results. In turn,
all staff must have the knowledge and skills necessary to identify the standards being
taught, administer aligned assessments, review data to make informed instructional
decisions, deliver instruction with the most effective practices, and maintain high
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expectations. The division is committed to time and resources needed to provide high
quality professional development.
Universal Screening
RTI requires Universal Screening of all students to determine current performance levels,
identify learning needs, and to proactively identify those students at risk for academic or
behavioral difficulties. All students, including special education students, are screened in
reading and math a minimum of three times per year using screening instruments that are
administered with fidelity. Students not at benchmark for a RTI skill, or those who are in
danger of not attaining the next benchmark, should be provided further diagnostic
assessment and intervention. Results are analyzed by classroom teachers and the
designated grade-level data team and are used to determine appropriate instructional
groupings and to design appropriate intervention.
Screening tools provide an indication in identifying students’ needs. They should be
research‐based, brief, and easily administered. Screening must be highly correlated to skills
assessed and should have benchmarks that are predictive of future performance Augusta
County Public Schools has chosen to use division defined assessments in reading and
mathematics that allow students to be compared to national and local norms. Student
performance will be evaluated against these norms to determine instructional need.
Screening measures must be administered efficiently, consistently, and with fidelity. It is
imperative that, for screening to have true meaning all staff administering and interpreting
screening assessments be thoroughly trained and retrained as needed. Schools may opt to
solely utilize their own staff or may call on other support personnel to administer universal
screening measures if such personnel are available. These must be well planned as even the
most subtle issue may undermine the efficiency and efficacy of the system.
Screening results are of little value unless a mechanism is in place to allow classroom
teachers to analyze screening results in a timely fashion. For PreK – 8 students, refer to the
division’s assessment calendar for a timeline. For high school students, screening results are
reviewed after each formal and informal reporting period. Teams should generate grade or
classroom-wide implications for addressing instructional (core) deficits before identifying
individual students for further assessment. Teams should also keep in mind that the
screening data is only one data point and that multiple data points should be used in
identifying students in need of interventions. Once students are identified, further
diagnostic assessment to identify skill deficits will be necessary before interventions can
begin.
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Shared Ownership
The RTI framework, by design, promotes shared ownership of student learning across staff
and programs. All staff (general ed., special ed., Title 1, ELL, intervention specialists,
paraprofessionals, principals, etc.) assumes an active role in each level of tiered instruction
in the Virginia Tiered System of Supports model. All staff share all students.
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General educators provide Tier 1 core instruction in the general education
classroom, and may have an active role in Tier 1 and Tier 2 interventions and
monitoring activities. Although specialists, interventionists, and paraprofessionals
may be utilized to assist core instruction when available, the responsibility of the
core instruction belongs to the general educators. Sufficient Tier 1 core instruction
is provided by the differentiation of core instruction and the use of smaller, flexible
groups within the core. All staff can be used to help scaffold and differentiate
instruction and to ensure that additional opportunities to learn are available to
students through the tiered service delivery system. Paraprofessionals provide key
support to students with reinforced learning, instructional practice, and fluency
tasks.
Common planning time to enable collaborative practices is necessary at all grade
levels. Teachers and specialists must operate with the belief of “we are all
responsible for the instruction and learning of all students”.
Title I and special educators may provide instruction and participate in progressmonitoring activities at all levels of tiered instruction. Title I Targeted Assistance
Model will focus on Tier 3 students and monitor student progress.
Specialists (art, music, P.E., media) may also participate in various ways with RTI
implementation at all levels.
The principal’s role is critical in developing shared ownership and in ensuring all role
changes are strategically planned and supported with appropriate training and coaching.
The allocation of instructional resources is vital to RTI implementation and will require
shifts in time allocation, scheduling, and staffing patterns. Guiding principles include:
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School resources and staff expertise are allocated based on student need. Expert
teachers and specialists are assigned to the neediest students.
Adjustments to the infrastructure are made to provide flexible schedules, grouping
options, time for teacher collaboration around student learning (data analysis
teaming), and flexible staff assignments.
The RTI framework requires competency and fidelity of implementation, which
demands staff development. Training and support are critical as staff assumes
nontraditional roles in the RTI process.
General education teachers are all responsible for coordinating all the intervention
for their student.
Interventions provided for individual students must be reinforced in core.
RTI may require the realignment of existing resources, not always the acquisition of
additional resources.
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Data-Based Decision Making
Data‐based decision-making drives the RTI framework. Staff members use data to monitor
student achievement and set achievement goals. ACPS assessment data are used to set
student goals to improve achievement. Student performance is monitored on an
established, ongoing basis to determine the program and instructional adjustments needed
to ensure student success. Data-based decision making determines the appropriate
instructional grouping, curriculum, tiered interventions, instructional strategies, and the
assessment procedures needed to improve student achievement.
Data-based decision making is done through an efficient process of gathering data and
developing processes to analyze the data and adjust instruction. Teachers must be trained
in both these processes and in understanding the instructional implications of each data
source.
RTI Data Teaming:
 Grade-Level Teaming (PreK – 8): Grade‐level teams meet periodically (at least once
per month) to review screening data, set grade‐level goals, plan instruction, make
instructional adjustments, and monitor student progress. Students at risk for
academic failure as well as those in need of extension are identified and
instructional plans are developed to meet the needs of those students. These teams
also adjust core instruction across the grade as necessary.
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Data Day Teaming (PreK-8): The Data Day team is responsible for the monitoring of
tiered interventions based on progress monitoring data. Teams of teachers and
other school and division staff as appropriate meet monthly to monitor student
progress, the fidelity of intervention implementation, and the impact of instruction
on student learning.
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Departmental teaming (HS): Departmental teams meet periodically (at least once
per grading period) to review screening data, set department‐level goals, plan
instruction, make instructional adjustments, and monitor student progress.
Students at risk for academic failure as well as those in need of extension are
identified and instructional plans are developed to meet the needs of those students.
These teams also adjust core instruction across the grade as necessary.
Tiered Intervention & Service Delivery System
The RTI approach incorporates a multi-tiered model of service delivery in which each tier
represents an increasingly intense level of services associated with increasing levels of
learner needs. ACPS has adopted a three-tiered framework that provides standards‐aligned
instruction and intervention support to all students. The framework is implemented within
the general education program and cannot be used to deny parents the right to an
evaluation for special education services. In a RTI system, all students receive instruction in
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the core curriculum (Tier 1), which may be supplemented by strategic (Tier 2), and/or
intensive (Tier 3) interventions for individual students as needed. Therefore, all students,
including those with high-incidence disabilities, may be found in Tier 1 (with the exception
of students who have low incidence disabilities who are provided services in a selfcontained environment). Important features, such as universal screening, progress
monitoring, fidelity of implementation and problem solving occur within each tier.
A complete description of the three-tiered model is discussed in Chapter 2 of this manual.
Parental Engagement
Parental and family engagement is an important factor in improving student achievement,
and it is a key aspect of a successful RTI program. ACPS recognizes the critical role of
parents in the RTI process. Schools should develop specific strategies/activities to engage
parents in all phases of RTI.
The school should provide written information to all parents regarding the RTI process.
This can be addressed in a parental letter, at PTA meetings, and in the school newsletter.
Parents should be provided an overview of the RTI framework, tiered instruction, types of
programs used, and tips to support their children at home and at school. The overview
should include timelines, explanation of interventions, and possible outcomes. Also, student
data collected during RTI implementation should be shared with parents on a routine basis.
Parents provide a critical perspective on students, thus increasing the likelihood that RTI
interventions will be effective. For this reason, schools must make a concerted effort to
involve parents as early as possible, beginning with instruction in the core curriculum. This
can be done through traditional methods such as parent-teacher conferences, regularly
scheduled meetings, or by other methods.
Specifically, parents will be invited to participate in problem-solving meetings to consider
Tier 3 placement. They must receive ongoing and precise information regarding their child’s
interventions and progress. This information should include but not be limited to:
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Their child’s needs,
A description of the specific intervention and who is delivering instruction,
Clearly stated intervention goals and academic progress expected for their child,
Regular progress or lack of progress reports,
Specific information about RTI, and
The right to request a special education evaluation at any time
Parent conferences at schools implementing RTI are data driven and are designed to keep
parents abreast of their child’s progress. Student data from universal screening and
progress monitoring will be included with all parent/teacher conferences.
RTI is a method of delivering the general education curriculum for all students so written
consent is not required before administering universal screenings, curriculum based
measures (CBM), and targeted assessments when these tools are used to determine
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instructional needs. However, when a student fails to respond to interventions and the
decision is made to evaluate a student for special education eligibility, written consent must
be obtained in accordance with ACPS special education policy and procedures. Notification
of universal screening is included in the student handbook and the annual assessment
calendar is posted on the division website.
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RTI Manual, Chapter 1 - Augusta County Public Schools