This research effort used a pretest/posttest design to determine the effectiveness of response to intervention (RTI) when implemented with struggling readers in middle school. RTI is a multitiered intervention process designed, in part, to identify students with specific learning disabilities (Vaughn & Fuchs, 2003) and to assist struggling readers as they access the general education curriculum.
The research compared the implementation of evidence-based intensive reading instruction with that of traditional sixth-grade instruction. Participants were 56 sixth-grade students who scored "Far Below Basic" or "Below Basic" on the 2006–2007 English Language Arts California Standards Test (ELA CST) and who scored at a third-grade level or below on four curriculum-based measures. Students at the selected school spoke more than 25 different languages, and nearly all students were culturally and linguistically diverse. The sample was 61% Latino, 30% African American, and 9% Indochinese. Of this sample, 86% were English language learners and 20% had specific learning disabilities. The control group (n = 28) received only traditional sixth-grade classroom instruction. The intervention group (n = 28) received approximately 30 hours of intense reading instruction in 1:3 teacher-student homogeneous groups. Participants received intervention for 1 hour (three 20-minute intervals) three times a week for 10 weeks, using three of four scientifically validated reading programs.
The research used both descriptive and inferential statistics to measure the effectiveness of interventions through analysis of covariance on students' reading scores, overall grade-point average, and 2007–2008 ELA CST scores. This study also examined the nature of Tier 1 and Tier 2 learning environments and instruction as they relate to students' language and learning differences. The researcher conducted observations, followed by interviews with the participating teachers (n = 3) and interventionists (n = 3). The results of this mixed-methods study inform educators about the effects of evidence-based Tier 2 interventions and clarify the nature of Tier 1 and Tier 2 responsive instruction for diverse student populations.