Project Spotlight:

Evidence shows that students with disabilities who are struggling academically may have far greater academic potential than what their test scores suggest. NH RESPONDS, a 5-year collaborative project between the IOD, the NH Department of Education, and the NH Center for Effective Behavioral Interventions and Supports, is designed to provide school districts with the training and resources necessary to bring high quality, effective, efficient, and sustainable practices in literacy, behavior, and secondary transition services to early childhood education programs and K-12 schools. The project incorporates the Response to Intervention (RTI) Model—a framework of providing high quality tiered levels of increasingly individualized instruction and supports for students—which has been proven effective, particularly for students K-3.

Five NH school districts (SAUs) are serving as model demonstration sites for implementation. This broad-reaching strategy is one of the most unique features of NH RESPONDS, as training and support has often been administered within individual schools instead of at the district level.

“It is rare to have this type of change occurring at the SAU level,” says Leigh Rohde, NH RESPONDS Project Literacy Coordinator. “In working with individual schools in the past, we often encountered district-wide policies that were contradictory to what we were trying to achieve. By working on the SAU level, we have the opportunity to really collaborate and make progress in changing entire instructional and disciplinary systems.”

In addition to improving the academic achievement of students with disabilities, one of the primary goals of NH RESPONDS is to create a sustainable and proven model that could be replicated in districts across the state and country. The project is also designed to contribute to the research base and evidence of RTI’s effectiveness.

In addition to the work at the five demonstration sites, NH RESPONDS is reaching out to pre-service and in-service educators through a variety of academic and professional development opportunities. Efforts are being made to create and enhance coursework at the undergraduate and graduate levels to include instruction in these models, with hopes of revising the educational certification requirements in certain specialties. NH RESPONDS is also offering numerous public workshops and trainings across the state to encourage exploration, understanding, and additional implementation of these models.

For more information on NH RESPONDS, visit

© 2009 Institute on Disability / UCED