The most easily recognizable benefit to RTI is that it eliminates the old situation of waiting for students to fail before seeking help (Klotz & Canter, 2007). This is so important. Just one bad school year can make it nearly impossible for a student to catch back up. I can't imagine how a slow decline to the point of failure could damage a student's chances for success.
One thing I found interesting was that rather than saying the intervention should end when students meet some goal or are "on level," the Problem Solving & Response to Intervention Project (2011) states that intervention should continue as long as student shows a positive response. Is this true even if students catch up to their peers?
Ultimately, my opinion of RTI is just that it is what we have right now. I don't think I can really say whether it's great or awful until I'm in the classroom every day living it. Then I will not only be able to get the feel for using it, I will have a better reference for some day in the future when something else seems like it would work better. For now, RTI seems like a good idea to help students from falling away.
Dickman, G.E. (2006). RTI and reading: Response to intervention in a nutshell. Retrieved from http://www.readingrockets.org/article/14596/
Education Evolving. (2005). Response to intervention: An alternative for traditional eligibility criteria for students with disabilities. Saint Paul, MN: Wedl, R. J.
Klotz, M. B., & Canter, A. (2007). Response to Intervention (RTI): A primer for parents. Retrieved from http://www.nasponline.org/resources/handouts/revisedPDFs/rtiprimer.pdf
Problem Solving & Response to Intervention Project. (2011). FAQs. Retrieved from http://floridarti.usf.edu/floridaproject/faq.html