An Intersection at the Corner of FIP and RTI: Gifted Learners


This article was first featured in the Fall 2014 edition of the Principal Navigator. It has been reprinted by permission from the Ohio Association of Elementary School Administrators.

Response to Invention (RtI) has much in common with Ohio’s Formative Instructional Practices (FIP) that thousands of educators across our state have begun to adopt. The success of RTI is dependent upon FIP. RtI and FIP both address the need to create classroom environments where students and teachers respond to accurate information about student learning. FIP focuses on the informal and formal ways teachers collect and document evidence of student learning and the use that information to adjust instruction and move learning forward. Like RTI, FIP is a problem-based model designed to help teachers and their students become clear about where they are in their learning, where they need to go, and how to close the gap between present and future.

Although Response to Intervention was originally conceived as an approach for the early identification of students with disabilities, its purpose is not merely to identify. Rather, its intent is to increase the responsiveness of educators to meet the needs of all struggling students. This preemptive framework implements structures for educators to collaborate, make data-based decisions and establish classroom strategies specifically designed to increase student success. If classroom–based strategies prove insufficient, educators have evidence to suggest the need for additional supports or interventions.

FIP has been supported by the Ohio Department of Education because it provides teachers with the foundational understanding, classroom examples and a vision for embedding the very skills that RTI requires into practice. Both RtI and FIP apply to all learners—including those who are gifted.

The four FIP components, outlined in Ohio’s free online learning modules, most closely reinforce Tier I of RtI, which starts with a rigorous curriculum and evidence-based high-quality instruction. The four core components--creating clear learning targets, collecting and documenting evidence of student learning, analyzing evidence and providing effective feedback, and cultivating student ownership, work together to help teachers build a relentless orientation towards instruction and assessment designed to help each student meet or exceed standards-based learning targets.

When effective instruction is the focus of RTI, the relationship between FIP and RTI become even clearer. Jay McTighe (2008), whose work has been used to build RTI systems, addressed several important considerations for effective instruction that are explicitly tied to FIP. In the table below you can see how FIP complements McTighe’s effective instructional design steps.

For RtI to be successful, teacher teams need to work together to create options for students that help them to grow and be successful. Universal Design of Learning (UDL) principles are useful to help teachers design instruction for all learners by considering options that differentiate instruction. A new series of three FIP modules has recently been released, Reaching Every Learner, These modules are designed to provide teachers with examples that deepen their use formative instructional practices with diverse learners. Each module is intended to expand on the foundational principles of FIP and to help teachers consider options consistent with UDL that address some specific needs of English language learners, gifted learners, and students with disabilities. Each module gives the reader examples of how to create options for students, provides classroom based scenarios and given them opportunities for problem solving.

Teachers may find that the Formative Instructional Practices: Reaching Gifted Students module especially useful as they design and deliver instruction for their gifted students. This module is intended mainly for classroom teachers interested in improving instruction for gifted students, as well as for gifted intervention specialists who may be beginning their journey with FIP. It can be used as a companion to the Foundations of Formative Instructional Practices and the FIP in Action modules.

Below are some critical questions to consider about current practices in your classrooms and some FIP tips you can use to advance gifted students' progress. For more strategies and tips, be sure to check out the Reaching Gifted Students module as well as other FIP in Action modules that depict many strong example of differentiated practice in various grades and content areas. 

As Danielson (2007) noted, effective teachers actively and systematically elicit information about students' understanding in order to monitor their progress and make instructional decisions. FIP shows teachers how to build their skills and knowledge to do this well. When implementing FIP with fidelity, they will see that they are responding to student needs in the right way, at the right time—all of the time.

Danielson, C. (2007). Enhancing professional practice: A framework for teaching. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

McTighe, J. (2008, October). Connecting content and kids: Integrating differentiation and understanding by design. Workshop presented at the Wisconsin Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development Conference,Appleton, WI.