RTI on a Shoestring: Reading Fluency, Classwide Behavior Management, Student RTI Graphs

With districts across the country facing major budget shortfalls, the need is greater than ever for schools to find affordable resources to support Response to Intervention.


Below are 3 free products that can help to fill gaps in schools’ academic intervention, behavioral intervention, and progress-monitoring capacity in their RTI plan:

  • ACADEMIC INTERVENTIONS: HELPS Evidence-Based Reading Fluency Program Package.  Poor reading fluency is a prime source of RTI referrals in elementary and middle schools. A free intervention package that targets reading fluency is the HELPS (Helping Early Literacy with Practice Strategies) program (http://www.helpsprogram.org).  Developed by Dr. John Begeny of North Carolina State University, HELPS is delivered by a teacher or tutor working with an individual student.

    Each session lasts about 15 minutes. A HELPS session follows a scripted format and includes the following effective treatment components: adult modeling of fluent reading, repeated reading of passages by the student, phrase-drill error correction, verbal cueing and retell check to encourage student reading comprehension, and timely performance feedback, and reward procedures to engage and encourage the student reader. After creating a free log-in account at the HELPS website, the user can download the program manual, tutor and student materials, and a great demonstration video with clips of tutor-tutee sessions that can be used for self-training in the program.

  • BEHAVIORAL INTERVENTIONS: The Great Behavior Game: A Classwide Management Program. The Great Behavior Game (http://educatorshandbook.com/products/game/) is a free online version of the Good Behavior Game, a classwide behavior management program that has years of strong research to support it. The teacher first creates a free account on the Great Behavior Game website, enters information in preparation for the Game, then runs the Game in a web browser with LCD projector whenever teaching the class. The Great Behavior Game is a way that teachers can reward appropriate classroom behaviors through positive behavioral support.
  • PROGRESS-MONITORING: GRAPS: RTI Graphing (Progress-Monitoring) Software.  Schools can download the GRAPS (Graphic Representation of Academic Progress System), a free Excel-based program that tracks the progress of individual students on RTI academic interventions. Available at http://www.rtigraphs.com, the program is easy to use. It allows educators to enter benchmark data, set student goals (aimline), to enter progress-monitoring data, and to calculate the student’s rate of improvement. Another feature of the GRAPS program is that it can help to generate IEP goals. The primary developers of the application are school psychologists Joshua Zola, Ed.S., CBIS, and David Augustus "Gus" Ruff, Ed.S., NCSP.  Josh wrote in a recent email that “My colleagues and I have been working on a progress monitoring and data analysis tool for the past 4 years, and we finally have it completed. We…really tried to make it as user friendly as possible.”
The three products reviewed here may be helpful in addressing specific school RTI needs. However, districts can make the best use of these and similar free or low-cost resources if they have first prepared a comprehensive RTI roll-out plan and use that plan as a blueprint for implementation. With a district RTI plan in hand, a school can then investigate any program or product that comes to their attention and identify specifically what potential gap(s) in the RTI plan the program or product is intended to fill.