The Role of RTI in LD Identification

National experts Don Deshler, Jack Fletcher, and Rick Wagner provide information and answer questions about using Response to Intervention (RTI) to help students with learning disabilities.

Program description

The formal incorporation of RTI models in IDEA signaled a major change in the approaches that schools may use to identify students as eligible for special education in the learning disability (LD) category. In this webcast, national experts Don Deshler, Jack Fletcher, and Rick Wagner provide information and answer questions about using RTI to help students with LD.


Don Deshler

Don Deshler, Ph.D., is Professor of Special Education and Director of the Center for Research on Learning within the National Research Center on Learning Disabilities at the University of Kansas. Dr. Deshler serves as an advisor on adolescent achievement to several organizations including the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the National Governor's Association, the Alliance for Excellent Education, the Council on Families and Literacy, and the U. S. State Department. He recently received a presidential appointment to serve as a member of the National Institute for Literacy Advisory Board.

Jack M. Fletcher

Jack M. Fletcher, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology at the University of Houston. For the past 30 years, Dr. Fletcher, a child neuropsychologist, has worked extensively on issues related to learning and attention problems in developmental and brain-injured children. Dr. Fletcher served on the NICHD National Advisory Council, the Rand Reading Study Group, the National Research Council Committee on Scientific Principles in Education Research, and the President's Commission on Excellence in Special Education.

Rick Wagner, Ph.D.

Rick Wagner, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology at Florida State University. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the National Institute for Literacy and is well known for his research on the assessment of reading and intelligence. Dr. Wagner is the Associate Director of the Florida Center for Reading Research which focuses on research related to reading, reading growth, and reading assessment.

Recommended resources

Articles and books by the presenters

Fletcher, J.M. (2008). Identifying Learning Disabilities in the Context of Response-to-intervention: A Hybrid Model. RTI Action Network

Fletcher, J.M., Lyon, G.R., Fuchs, L.S., & Barnes, M.A. (2007). Learning disabilities: From identification to intervention. New York: Guilford.

Fletcher, J.M., & Vaughn, S.R. (in press). Response to intervention: Preventing and remediating academic difficulties. Child Development Perspectives.

Fuchs, D., Deshler, D.D., & Reschly, D.J. (2004). Multimethod studies of identification and classification issues: National Research Center on Learning Disabilities. Learning Disability Quarterly, 27(4), 189—195.

Related reading from

Additional resources on LD identification with RTI

  • Baer, R.D., Griffin, M., Franco, F., Fast, P., Loveless, T., Carlson, V., & Keene, R. (2006). Integrating response to intervention and severe discrepancy in specific learning disabilities determination: The best of two worlds. The Utah Special Educator.
  • Fuchs, D. Mock, P. L. Morgan, & C. L. Young. (2003). Responsiveness to intervention: Definitions, evidence, and implications for the learning disabilities construct. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 18(3), 157-171.
  • National Research Center on Learning Disabilities. (2006). Integrating RTI within the specific learning disability determination process. Materials from the National SEA Conference on SLD Determination.
  • Starrett, B.E., deBoer, S.R., Tollefson, J.M. (2007). Resource list: Specific learning disabilities and responsiveness to intervention.
  • VanDerHeyden, A.M., Witt, J.C., Gilbertson, D. (2007). A multi-year evaluation of the effects of a response to intervention (RTI) model on identification of children for special education. Journal of School Psychology. 45(2), 225-256.

Discussion questions

  1. What professional development opportunities are available within your district that could address LD identification within an RTI framework?
  2. Do you have a school-based team in place already? If so, could it carry out the responsibilities discussed here for identifying LD under RTI? Discuss changes that may be needed to put that in place.
  3. What data are currently collected in your school? Are these data used in conjunction with other data to identify LD?
  4. How is special education eligibility determined in your school district? Is RTI part of that determination? If not, discuss how that may be integrated into your current system.
  5. Share ideas for the supports from your district office that would help you integrate LD identification and RTI. Discuss ways you may request that support.
  6. Reflect on ways that you could involve parents and families in identifying LD in your building or district using RTI.

Funding for the RTI National Online Forum is provided by the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation. Published on Reading Rockets with permission of the National Center for Learning Disabilities. For more information about RTI (including forums and webinars), visit the RTI Action Network.

"Books are a uniquely portable magic." —

Stephen King