Special Education

RTI Can’t Delay Special Education Evaluations, Feds Say

By Christina A. Samuels — January 31, 2011 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The federal Office of Special Education Programs released a memo earlier this month reminding states that a response-to-intervention process cannot delay the initial evaluation for special education services of a child suspected of having a disability.

The memo, dated Jan. 21, was posted on the website of the federally-funded National Center for Response to Intervention last week.

Response to intervention is an educational framework based on universal screening of all students, then increasingly targeted and intensive lessons, or “interventions,” to students based on identified areas of weakness. Students are then monitored closely for their response to those interventions.

Federal regulations require that states allow RTI to be used as part of the criteria for determining if students have a specific learning disability. In this memo, the feds are reiterating that RTI can be part of a comprehensive evaluation process for a student, but cannot be the entire process in itself. The January memo references an earlier letter to Lehigh University professor Perry A. Zirkel, which states, “An RTI process does not replace the need for a comprehensive evaluation, and the results of an RTI process may be one component of the information reviewed as part of the evaluation procedures required” under federal policy.

The January memo also refers to other “informal guidance” letters from the department, which you can search for easily at this link.

Using an RTI process as a method of identifying children for learning disabilities has already been protested by some parents, as these 2007 articles in The Washington Post and the The Wall Street Journal show.

But I can also see the challenge for states and districts. States must permit the use of response to intervention as part of an evaluation process, and a response to intervention requires some time, if only to see if the intensive lessons are actually working for a struggling student. But districts also cannot delay evaluation, or they risk a due process hearing. What do readers think: Will this guidance make the process easier to navigate for parents as well as schools and states?

A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Evaluating Equity to Drive District-Wide Action this School Year
Educational leaders are charged with ensuring all students receive equitable access to a high-quality education. Yet equity is more than an action. It is a lens through which we continuously review instructional practices and student
Content provided by BetterLesson
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Special Education Opinion Inclusive Teachers Must Be 'Asset-Based Believers'
Four veteran educators share tips on supporting students with learning differences as they return to classrooms during this pandemic year.
16 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
Special Education Opinion 20 Ways to Support Students With Learning Differences This Year
Embed student voices and perspectives into the classroom is one piece of advice educators offer in this third pandemic-affected school year.
16 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
Special Education Schools Must Identify Students With Disabilities Despite Pandemic Hurdles, Ed. Dept. Says
Guidance stresses schools' responsibilities to those with disabilities, while noting that federal COVID aid can be used to address backlogs.
2 min read
School children in classroom with teacher, wearing face masks and raised hands
DigitalVision/Vectors/Getty
Special Education Attention Deficit Rates Skyrocket in High School. Mentoring Could Prevent an Academic Freefall
Twice as many students are diagnosed with ADHD in high school as in elementary school, yet their supports are fewer, a study says.
4 min read
Image of a child writing the letters "ADHD" on a chalkboard.
Getty