Comparing and Contrasting RDA and RTI

This post is the fifth in a series based on a transcript from a recent Q&A with Dr. Alan Coulter as part of his webinar, “Prepare for Impact: 3 Key Questions About RDA for Every SPED Administrator.” Questions came directly from audience participants — special education directors, special educators and clinicians, and answers are from Dr. Coulter. Click here to see additional questions from the Q&A.

Please compare and contrast RDA and RTI. Is it a bigger challenge to implement RDA than RTI?

Response to Intervention or Response to Instruction and Intervention are terms used widely across states. It’s also called Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS). Those concepts apply to all kids in school. Results-driven accountability (RDA) is really directed toward students with disabilities but the emphasis is the same, and that is how can all students be successful? How can we reduce the gap and performance across all the various groups?  So RDA, MTSS and RTI are absolutely compatible and very much reinforce a coherence at the school level that we are all basically working together to improve the performance of all students and how we can work together to make certain that we get better results for all kids. I don’t see any conflict whatsoever between RTI or MTSS versus RDA.  They are simply different aspects of the same general focus.

Whether RDA is simple or complex to implement at the local school level really starts with what the state is going to select as its state-identified measurable result (SIMR), and what resources the state is going to allocate to local schools in order to help them focus on that SIMR. That’s why I emphasize stakeholder involvement so much: to whatever extent that you feel that results-driven accountability is something that affects you will increase the fervor that you have toward getting involved in your state and seeing how the plan is going to be developed, and most importantly what kind of resources you can expect from the state to help you get the job done.

Dr. Alan Coulter is an expert in special education accountability, and has worked at the federal, state, and local level on accountability issues for over twenty-five years. He has served on the President’s Commission on Excellence in Special Education, and is currently the Director of Education Initiatives and an Associate Professor at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences and Human Development Center. Alan is also the director of the TIERS Group (Teams Intervening Early to Reach all Students). TIERS consults with state DOEs and district administrators on the quality and use of special education data. Alan is a key participant in the national discussion regarding Results Driven Accountability and focused monitoring.  His scholarly work and research is widely published in academic journals.