University of Iowa

To Wait in Tier 1 or Intervene Immediately: a Randomized Experiment Examining First Grade Response to Intervention (RTI) in Reading


This randomized controlled experiment compared the efficacy of two Response to Intervention (RTI) models - Typical RTI and Dynamic RTI - and included 34 first-grade classrooms (n = 522 students) across 10 socio-economically and culturally diverse schools. Typical RTI was designed to follow the two-stage RTI decision rules that wait to assess response to Tier 1 in many districts, whereas Dynamic RTI provided Tier 2 or Tier 3 interventions immediately according to students' initial screening results. Interventions were identical across conditions except for when intervention began. Reading assessments included letter-sound, word, and passage reading, and teacher-reported severity of reading difficulties. An intent-to-treat analysis using multi-level modeling indicated an overall effect favoring the Dynamic RTI condition (d = .36); growth curve analyses demonstrated that students in Dynamic RTI showed an immediate score advantage, and effects accumulated across the year.


Al Otaiba, S. Connor, C. M., Folsom, J. S., Greulich, L., Wanzek, J., & Schatschneider, C. (2014). To wait in Tier 1 or intervene immediately: A randomized experiment examining first grade Response to Intervention (RTI) in reading. Exceptional Children, 81(1), 11-27. doi: 10.1177/0014402914532234.

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