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The relationship or what the relationship should be between RTI and special education is a very important issue. Some people believe that special education should have little role in RTI, others believe that special ed should have a predominate role in RTI. Some believe that special education’s proper role or function should be sprinkled, if you will, across and among the RTI tiers so that special educators are working at tier 1, tier 2, tier 3 and so forth. Others believe that special educators should be only at the most intensive tier in an RTI system.

So, there’s considerable confusion at the moment as to what special ed’s proper role, function, set of responsibilities should be in an RTI system. What the professional role of the special educators should be in an RTI system. Importantly, a related concern or question is what constitutes most intensive instruction? States and districts and other stakeholders are relatively clear about what should go on at tier 1 and tier 2.

What general education can do to contribute to a well-functioning, high-performing RTI system. There’s relative confusion, uncertainty as to what the nature of instruction should be for the children who are chronically unresponsive to tiers 1 and 2. What do we do for the kids, with the kids who are not responding to quote unquote best evidence practices and secondly who should deliver that most instructionally intensive treatments or interventions. So, I wish I could give you a clear, persuasive, consensual sense or opinion as to what special education’s role should be but there really isn’t a consensus at this point.

What would I personally like to see? I would personally like to see special educators providing most intensive instruction. Special educators don’t exclusively need to be those providing that most intensive instruction, but I think that’s in principle, that’s what special educators role should be primarily. They should be working with kids who are the most instructionally needy children in a given school.

— Dr. Douglas Fuchs

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