Response to Intervention (RtI) came about initially in answer to the over-identification of struggling students as special education students. It was developed starting in the late 1970s by numerous researchers seeking a method of identifying learning disabilities that avoids the problems of the discrepancy model. Many educators were concerned that too many students were being identified as having a learning disability, not because they actually had one, “but because they had not been successful in a general education program” (Prasse, 2010). Many were also concerned that students with a true learning disability were not receiving the help they needed quickly enough. Before RtI, the accepted method for identifying students with a designation of LD, or learning disabled, was the IQ/Achievement Discrepancy model. This was often referred to as the “wait to fail” approach because students could not receive additional attention until a discrepancy between expected performance (based on IQ test results) and an observed deficiency could be demonstrated conclusively over time (Prasse, 2010). This method of identification delayed added resources for students who really needed it until remediation became difficult, was applied inconsistently, and often resulted in misidentification in both directions (Fletcher, Coulter, Reschly, & Vaughn, 2204).
During the years between the 1997 passage of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
(IDEA) and the 2004 Reauthorization, renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Education
Improvement Act, or IDEIA, a consensus formed among education professionals that the
traditional IQ/Achievement Discrepancy model for identifying students who had a learning disability was not working. An article in the Journal of Learning Disabilities noted “[r]esearch findings indicate that substantial proportions of school-identified LD students – from 52 to 70 percent – fail to meet...