Learning Disability: Response-to-Intervention (RTI) and Hybrid Models

For many English language learners in the US, reading and writing become critical challenges because of insufficient language proficiency. Orosco and Klingner (2010) state that 40% of students will speak English as a second language by 2030. However, some teachers fail to distinguish between underperforming children and those who have learning disability, which leads to a lack of proper response and individualized instructions. In this connection, it is important to be aware of a response-to-intervention (RTI) and hybrid models that provide support for such students.

The identification of learning disability is of great importance for making sure that students receive research-based instructions in a general classroom to have an opportunity to succeed. The RTI model implies determining the extent to which children are able to meet valid instructions, instead of focusing on IQ-testing or a discrepancy model. A multitiered approach, ongoing student evaluation, and parent engagement are the key elements of the RTI model (RTI Action Network, 2019). A student’s progress should be closely monitored to offer relevant interventions and stimulate his or her rate of learning. Considering that many teachers have insufficient knowledge of the second language acquisition (SLA) in compared to learning disability, the application of the mentioned model cannot be underestimated (Orosco & Klingner, 2010). Namely, the RTI model’s benefits include paying attention to the instructional context and a range of factors that impact student learning outcomes. While it is common to refer struggling students to special education, the proposed model contributes to the differentiation of interventions to address the specific needs of students.

A hybrid model of learning disability classification and definition states that an inclusion of the present attributes. The three criteria are low achievement, cognitive discrepancy, and instructional response based on the RTI model. Fletcher, Stebing, Morris, and Lyon (2013) emphasize that both of these models do not consider cognitive discrepancy as the criteria for stating that a child has learning disability. Likewise, they identify the situations, in which a student needs interventions to accelerate their learning, which cannot be achieved in terms of standard approaches. It is evident that the hybrid model does not disregard the role of cognitive abilities, but it regards different forms of learning disability and academic underachievement. The validity of this model is examined across a range of studies that report on the effectiveness of meaning-based instructions (Fletcher et al., 2013). According to this approach, a team of professionals should judge the presence of learning disability with regard to reliability and validity of the assessment.

Compared to the hybrid model, the RTI model should not be considered as the only way to identify learning disability since it mainly targets improved service delivery. At the same time, the hybrid model attempts to integrate the method of RTI to provide a more comprehensive assessment. It should be stressed that learning disability diagnosis cannot be revealed based on one or another factor as it requires the review of several criteria. More the point, neuropsychological approaches and low achievement seem to be involved in the hybrid model, which proposes the use of multiple learning dimensions. The application of neuropsychological approaches is beneficial to measure a student’s learning by measuring and computing costs, confidence intervals, and false-negative errors (Fletcher et al., 2013). In turn, the evaluation of low achievement is another significant way to understand the causes of student struggles in reading and writing. For example, if a child demonstrates difficulties in responding to the instructions and achievement deficit is evident, it is possible to assume that he or she has learning disability.

The attention to the cultural and linguistic background of struggling students is one of the most controversial questions that appear in the consideration of the identified models. On the one hand, it is stated that the sensitivity to the background of learners can be useful to better understand their needs and expectations. On the other hand, it is suggested that a unified approach can serve to consider students in their learning environment, which can provide a full picture (Fletcher et al., 2013). In other words, the evidence regarding this debate is not consistent.

Speaking of the benefits of the hybrid and RTI models, it is important to stress that both of them are innovative and evidence-based approaches to working with students who struggle in English language learning in the context of SLA. The focus on the potential benefit from differentiated instruction is another common feature of these models, which distinguishes them from the discrepancy model. The value of the RTI lies in its comprehensive evaluation and intensive interventions, which correspond to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) of 2004 (Fletcher et al., 2013). In addition, there is a variety of methods to implement the above model, such as standard protocols, functional assessment, and hybrid approaches. On the contrary to the hybrid model that implies the involvement of district and wider areas, the RTI model is more focused on the school-level instructions. In turn, the hybrid model seems to be a significant step towards the multifaceted delivery of education as it incorporates a set of critical indicators that allow evaluating students.

While the advantages of the identified models cannot be ignored, they also have some weaknesses. The first limitation of the hybrid model is that it was not verified empirically even though some studies tried to address one or several issues. The RTI model was investigated in practice in the study by Orosco and Klingner (2010), who argue that the systematic effect of this model is not yet clear, and further research is needed to understand its role in improving the learning of English language learners. Another weakness of the hybrid model is related to paying attention only to behavioral measures. It would be better if this model also integrated the potential impact of gender or heredity as the factors that make some students more vulnerable to problems with reading. The RTI model is often interpreted inappropriately by teachers, who lack relevant training and fail to distinguish between learning disability and low achievement caused by other issues. For both models, the methods of implementing them are poorly researched. Therefore, the processes of applying these models in school settings should be studied in detail.

To conclude, this paper discusses the differences between the hybrid and RTI models that provide the framework for evaluating students struggling to read in English. It is found that the RTI aims to ensure high-quality and individualized service delivery, including parent involvement and differentiated instructions. The hybrid model proposes the integration of the RTI elements, low achievement, and neuropsychological approaches. One can note that currently, the hybrid model did not yet accomplish its goal since there is no empirical evidence regarding its effectiveness, which means that further research is needed.


  1. Fletcher, J., M., Stebing, K. K., Morris, R. D., & Lyon, G. R. (2013).Classification and definition of learning disabilities a hybrid model. In H.L. Swanson, K. R. Harris, & S. Graham (Eds.), Handbook of learning disabilities (2nd ed., pp. 33-50). Guilford Publications.
  2. Orosco, M.J., & Klingner, J. (2010). One school’s implementation of RTI with English language learners: “Referring into RTI”. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 43(3), 269-288. doi:10.1177/0022219409355474
  3. RTI Action Network. (2019). What is RTI? Web.

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ChalkyPapers. (2023, August 24). Learning Disability: Response-to-Intervention (RTI) and Hybrid Models. Retrieved from https://chalkypapers.com/learning-disability-response-to-intervention-rti-and-hybrid-models/


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ChalkyPapers. (2023) 'Learning Disability: Response-to-Intervention (RTI) and Hybrid Models'. 24 August.


ChalkyPapers. 2023. "Learning Disability: Response-to-Intervention (RTI) and Hybrid Models." August 24, 2023. https://chalkypapers.com/learning-disability-response-to-intervention-rti-and-hybrid-models/.

1. ChalkyPapers. "Learning Disability: Response-to-Intervention (RTI) and Hybrid Models." August 24, 2023. https://chalkypapers.com/learning-disability-response-to-intervention-rti-and-hybrid-models/.


ChalkyPapers. "Learning Disability: Response-to-Intervention (RTI) and Hybrid Models." August 24, 2023. https://chalkypapers.com/learning-disability-response-to-intervention-rti-and-hybrid-models/.