The RTI Trap (Response to Intervention) – Call 561-361-7495 for your no cost Stress to Success Strategy Session
Avoid the RTI Trap — RTI Cannot Be Used to Delay or Deny an Evaluation
How to Expedite the Evaluation Process for Special Education Services
OCR (the Federal Office for Civil Rights) has issued new guidance that clearly indicated
- Students must be evaluated within 60 calendar daya
- Good grades cannot be used to deny either a 504 Plan for accommodations or an IEP (Individualized Education Program)
- Clarified other items
Too many students are denied special education services because of a complex and often ineffective Response to Intervention process. RTI, as initially designed, was intended to help students succeed, without needing special education services. Unfortunately, the process has no defined time frames and …
Many parents have complained that they wanted to have their child evaluated for special education services, but the schools told them that their child must first complete RTI or the Response to Intervention Process. If their child was not on track to be on grade level by the end of the Response to Intervention Process, then the school might refer the child for a Comprehensive Evaluation.
What is RTI? How Long Does it Last? How to Avoid the RTI Tarp and Obtain A Comprehensive Evaluation
Response to Intervention or RTI is also called MTSS (multi-tiered system of support). In Florida, as in many other states, it is a 3 tiered support system that provides help for students before they qualify for special education. The expectation is that 20% of the students will start the process and only 5% will require special education services.
How RTI, or Response to Intervention, may work for your child.
Tier 1 – When the regular teacher notices a problem with reading, writing or math, or even behavior, they will try some interventions. Data is collected to track progress. If progress is made and your child gets back on track, the process stops. If the rate of progress is not sufficient, your child will be referred to…
Tier 2 – Another teacher will come into the classroom and try more intensive interventions. Again, data is collected and tracked. If this process gets your child back on track, the process stops. If the rate of progress is not sufficient, your child will be referred to…
Tier 3 – Again, a teacher may pull your child out, or the teacher might come into the classroom for even more intensive intervention. A different program or approach from tier 2 is supposed to be tried and results documented. If this works and gets your child back on track, the process stops. If the rate of progress is not sufficient, your child will be referred to
A Child Study Team for a Comprehensive Evaluation and/or consideration for Special Education Services.
How long is the process? How long is a piece of string? No one knows. One of the many frustrations with this process is that there is NO STANDARD TIME. Each school within a school district may have different time lines!
Warning!!! 3rd Grade Retention Can Happen Without Any Formal Process – avoid the RTI Trap NOW!!
Too often, struggling children are not even referred to RTI. The student may get extra services, but that is not part of the formal process. We have seen these students fail the 3rd grade test, be retained, and not have the benefit of the right accommodations or services. If you suspect your child is far behind, we recommend you speak with your child’s teacher or guidance counselor to make sure the RTI Process is started.
For a while, parents had no control over the process. Then in 2011, Melody Musgrove, the Director of the Office of Special Education in Washington DC, issued a very clear letter, stating that RTI cannot be used to delay or deny an evaluation.
We have developed a draft letter you can use as a guide. Please adjust the letter to your specific situation. We always encourage collaboration, and we also believe that Informed, Empowered and Proactive Parents Makes the Difference. We suggest parents submit a copy of Melody Musgrove’s letter with their request.
Both letters should be used proactively to avoid The RTI Trap
Since the format changes as laws and policies change, we have made this letter downloadable. We will keep the letter current. Just enter your information below and check the box for the Expedited Evaluation Letter to gain access to the draft letter; be sure to tailor the letter to your child’s needs.
The challenge is when to use the expedited process. The simple answer is when it makes sense. If your child is likely to get back to grade level with RTI, there is no reason to expedite the process.
Too often schools wait until 2nd and even 3rd grade to START the RTI process. As a parent, if you notice problems early on in reading, writing or math. SPEAK UP and ask that the RTI process be started ASAP!
If your child is not making progress, you want to make sure your child is moved through the RTI Process, and you want to consider asking for a Special Education Evaluation ASAP.
As one school based professional said to a parent at a recent meeting, “You saved 3 months by requesting a Special Education Evaluation well before the RTI Process was completed”. This was appropriate because it is highly likely the student would need special education services. In this case, the student had been in the second stage of RTI for four months. The protocol had called for the process to be reviewed after two months, but the process had not been followed. It is imperative to both monitor the RTI Process and to request an evaluation when appropriate.
It is always a judgment call, and as a parent you need to monitor the process closely.
Point to consider to avoid the RTI Trap, get a timely and comprehensive assessmment, and do it collaboratively:
- Federal law requires schools assess children within 60 calendar days when informed consent is given
- State laws can vary (e.g. in Florida it is now 60 calendar days, too)
- If the RTI process has slowed, you need to determine how and when to accelerate the process
- We believe in being proactive and collaborative, school personnel want to help. If the process gets out of control, you need to be proactive
- Be proactive and avoid the RTI Trap
At present, RTI is different from state to state, county to county and even school to school.
We have had parents who asked nicely for an evaluation for two years without any progress. By submitting the above mentioned letter the process has been expedited. There is no guarantee, but many parents have successfully used this approach.
3 Things You Can Immediately Do To Help Your Child
- To better understand how your child learns, and how you can capitalize on those strengths, DOWNLOAD Mira’s short, uplifting book “Life is a Ball, Don’t Put Me in a Box.”
- Take our free Online Success Assessment. It will help you see if your child learns differently.
- After taking the assessment, give us a call and ask us your questions. We’ll help you better understand what your child is dealing with, and what you can do to make a positive difference. You will also have the opportunity to join our weekly conference call.