Response to Intervention Model: No Excuse for Delaying or Denying a Special Education Evaluation

The response to Intervention model is generally referred to as RTI. RTI is a multi-tiered instructional framework that is designed to be used building-wide with all students to identify struggling learners and students with behavior problems. Students receive research-based interventions based on their level of need in order to reduce disruptive and distracting behaviors and maximize student achievement across the board. Schools that have solid RTI programs in place are better able to assist their students in being successful and better able to identify students who may need specialized instruction due to some type of disability.Some school districts mistakenly interpreted this new regulation of the 2004 amendment to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to use RTI in the assessment process, as a way to delay or deny evaluating children with potential disabilities for special education. As a result of this problem, the Director of the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) under the United States Department of Education wrote a memorandum to all of the states in November of 2007 addressing this issue. The memorandum clearly states, “The use of RTI strategies cannot be used to delay or deny the provision of a full and individual evaluation to a child suspected of having a disability”.What this means is that a school district cannot tell a parent that they cannot evaluate their child until they either begin implementing or see the results of the RTI process. After a parent formally requests for their child to be evaluated for special education, if the school district agrees that the child may have a disability that requires special education they must obtain parental permission to formally evaluate the child and begin the process. RTI may continue to be used during the assessment process to assess the child’s response to multiple interventions. The school district may deny evaluating the child, if they believe the child is not a child with a disability but they must write a letter of explanation as to why they are not evaluating the child and what information was used to make this decision. At this point, if the parents still disagrees and wants an evaluation for their child they can request a due process hearing.The RTI model is an excellent tool used to incorporate more research-based strategies into the school system to increase student’s overall performance, both academically and behaviorally. The concept of a tiered model with different interventions based on the individual needs of the students is a sound educational practice. For example, children who struggle with math computation are struggling for different reasons and at different levels, so using a multi-tiered framework to address the needs of these students make sense. Many children are benefiting greatly from the use of good RTI models. The most important factor, as it relates to children with suspected disabilities, is that the implementation of RTI may not be used to delay or deny initial evaluation for special education.

Compromise with Special Education Personnel? There is a Better Way!

Are you the parent of a child with autism or other disability that is
tired of receiving the run around, from special education personnel?
Have you tried compromising with school personnel, and your child is
still not receiving a free appropriate public education (FAPE)? I have
great news for you, there is another way to work with school personnel
to get an appropriate education for your child. This article will
teach you about how to be assertively persistent in your fight for
your child’s education. Compromise does not work, but assertive
persistence does.As an advocate for over 15 years I have helped many parents navigate
the special education system. I coined a phrase that describes, how
you should act in your advocacy efforts, with school personnel. I call
it assertive persistence.Assertiveness is defined as being clear with what you are asking for,
developing concrete evidence of educational and related services that
your child needs, documenting every thing that happens, and speaking
up for your child in a respectful manner. You may think that if you
stand up to school personnel that you are not respecting “authority.”
This is not true. You can stand up to special education personnel, for
the good of your child in an “assertive” way.Aggressiveness; which unfortunately some parents use in their dealings
with school personnel, is defined as: cussing, screaming, calling
names. You should never do these things! Years ago I heard that the
first person that starts screaming in a disagreement, loses the fight.
If you feel yourself beginning to get angry, which most parents do,
take a break to calm yourself down.One technique that you can use in your quest to be assertively
persistent, is Repeat, Repeat, Repeat! This technique is extremely
effective in making sure that school personnel do not try and change
the subject, when you are asking for services for your child. You
could say “Please do not change the subject, we were discussing my
child’s need for ABA services, in order to benefit from his
education.” Every time the disability educator tries to change the
subject, repeat the above statement. This will keep you and school
personnel focused on your child’s need.Another important part of being assertively persistent is to put
together documentation that verifies your child’s need for a
particular service. You could get an independent educational
evaluation (IEE) on your child, or use their district and state wide
testing.For example: Your child with a learning disability of Dyslexia, is in
4th grade and reading at a 1st grade level. Their state wide testing
verifies this fact. At an IEP meeting, you can bring up these test
scores, and ask for remedial reading for your child. Also, make sure
that your child has not “missed” important skills for reading. No
Child Left Behind (NCLB) states that 5 skills must be learned for
early reading success. These five skills are: 1. Phonemic awareness,
2. Phonics, 3. Fluency, 4. Vocabulary, and 5. Comprehension.Persistence is important because advocating for a particular service
may take several months. But continuing to persevere will help you win
the fight for your child.Compromise can be seen as giving in to what school personnel want, and
not effectively advocating for your child. You can stop giving in, and
learn to be assertively persistent for the good of your child! Good
Luck!

Could Accommodations Or Modifications Benefit Your Child in Special Education!

Do you wonder if an accommodation could help your child with dyslexia or another learning disability? Have you heard about modifications and wonder if they could help your child with autism, learn how to read? This article will discuss accommodations and modifications for children with a disability, who receive special education services.Accommodations for testing or for academics are defined as helping a student be able to participate, in testing or academics. The type of accommodations, depend on the child’s disability and educational needs. Below will be discussed accommodations that are available to be used, though this list is not exhaustive!Modifications for testing or for academics are defined as, changing the test or academics, so that the child with a disability can participate in the testing or academics. Below will be discussed types of modifications that can be used.Modifications:
1. The curriculum can be modified so that the child with a disability can participate in academics. For Example: If a child is in 2nd grade the reading curriculum may be modified to help a child learn to read that is reading below grade level.2. The expectations can be modified if a child cannot reach the same level as the children in their class or grade.3. Instead of regular district and state wide testing, the testing could be an alternative type of testing or reliance on a portfolio.4. Use a different spelling list than the list that the class is using.Accommodations:1. Directions read aloud and repeated.2. Large Print Version of Test3. Point to answers on a test, give oral answers (good accommodation for children with Dysgraphia-inability to write), or tape record answers.4. Use computer for assignments or tests. (also good for children with Dysgraphia).5. Take test in another room 1-1. (good accommodation for a child with attention difficulties).6. Extended time on testing and assignments.7. Test taking over several days (good accommodation for a child with ADHD).8. Seat student in quiet area or near a study buddy.9. Shorten assignments and reduce homework.10. Increase immediacy of rewards.11. Allow student to stand at times while working.12. Allow use of a calculator for Math.13. Send daily/weekly progress reports home.14. Praise compliant behavior and give immediate feedback for good behavior.The difference between accommodations and modifications is that accommodations help a child with a disability learn from the same curriculum, and participate in testing; modifications are actually changing the curriculum or the testing. If you think your child could benefit from accommodations or modifications bring it up at your child’s IEP meeting, and make sure that it is written in your child’s IEP.