Recognition & Response - What is Recognition and Response?
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What is Recognition & Response?

The Recognition & Response system is an emerging early childhood practice designed to help parents and teachers respond to learning difficulties in young children who may be at risk for learning disabilities as early as possible, beginning at age 3 or 4, before they experience school failure and before they are referred for formal evaluation and possible placement in special education.

The FPG Child Development Institute has recently completed a review of research that underscores the importance of recognizing and responding to critical early warning signs of learning difficulty in young children.

To download the paper as a PDF, click here.

To download the executive summary, click here.

To download the two-page "FPG Snapshot" click here.

The Origins of Recognition & Response in Response to Intervention (RTI)

Support for the concept of early intervening can be found in the Response to Intervention (RTI) model for school-age children. The RTI  model for school-age children who are at-risk for learning disabilities emphasizes pre-referral prevention and intervention. RTI can be distinguished from traditional methods of identifying learning disabilities in that it allows early and intensive interventions based on learning characteristics and does not wait for children to fail before providing necessary services and supports.

The major premise of RTI is that early intervening services can both prevent academic problems for many students who experience learning difficulties and determine which students actually have learning disabilities, as distinct from those whose underachievement can be attributed to other factors such as inadequate instruction.

Although several variations of the model have been proposed, in general RTI is based upon three components:

  • the use of multiple tiers of increasingly intense interventions
  • a problem-solving approach to identify and evaluate instructional strategies and
  • an integrated data collection and assessment system to monitor student progress and guide decisions at every level.

In recent years, a standard treatment protocol - the use of a particular research-based intervention for a small group of children with similar needs - has emerged as an additional RTI practice.

Critical Contexts in the Early Childhood Field

Several critical contexts in the early childhood field have caused national attention to be focused on early education issues and have helped to influence attitudes about the importance of services for very young children and their families:

  • the emphasis on high quality care and education
  • the school readiness movement
  • the national pre-kindergarten movement and
  • the importance of prevention and early intervention.

Each of these contexts reflects important factors that must be considered in developing an early intervening system for young children prior to beginning kindergarten.

A Conceptual Framework for the Recognition & Response System

The Recognition & Response system is based on the premise that parents and teachers can learn to recognize critical early warning signs that a young child may not be learning in an expected manner and to respond in ways that positively affect a childís early school success. In the Recognition & Response system, there is limited reliance on formal diagnosis and labeling. Instead, the Recognition & Response system emphasizes a systematic approach to responding to early learning difficulties that includes assessing the overall quality of early learning experiences for all children and making program modifications, tailoring instructional strategies, and providing appropriate supports for individual children, who struggle to learn.

The Recognition & Response system includes four essential components:

(1) an intervention hierarchy
(2) screening, assessment, and progress monitoring
(3) research-based curriculum instruction, and focused interventions and
(4) a collaborative problem-solving process for decision-making.

Intervention Hierarchy

An intervention hierarchy reflects increasing levels of intensity of instruction and intervention that correspond directly to childrenís needs for support. A teacherís decision to move from one tier to the next is guided by screening and assessment information as part of a systematic and collaborative problem-solving process that includes parents and specialists.

Screening, Assessment, and Progress Monitoring

An integrated assessment plan that relies on multiple methods and sources of information (e.g., observation, checklists, work sampling, curriculum-based assessments) can be used to determine which children are meeting key benchmarks, which children are in the process of developing these skills, and which children are not making adequate progress.

Research-Based Curriculum, Instruction, and Focused Interventions

The overarching goal of the Recognition & Response System is for teachers to use assessment as part of an integrated instructional system to make improvements in the general early childhood program and to plan focused interventions for children who require additional supports. 

Collaborative Problem-Solving Process for Decision-Making

Key to the problem-solving process is the use of assessments to inform decisions, thus, creating a dynamic link between the recognition and response components. The problem-solving process is collaborative, systematic, and used by teachers, parents, and specialists to make decisions about practice and to evaluate their effectiveness for individual children. was developed and is managed by the National Center for Learning Disabilities, which is solely responsible for its content.
Funding was made possible by grants from the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation and the Cisco Systems Foundation.

Copyright © 2010 National Center for Learning Disabilities, Inc. All Rights Reserved.