Would a court view RTI as equivalent to Special Education? It seems to me that RTI acts as a form of special education decision making and therefore is subject to the same legal standard-expectations-responsibilities.
There is so much confusion about Response to Intervention (RTI) – What is it? When it should be used? With which students?
“Would a court view RTI as equivalent to Special Education?”
RTI is not special education, so it is not equivalent to nor a substitute for special education.
RTI is a method to determine if a child has a specific learning disability and is eligible for special education. IDEA 2004 says, school districts “shall not be required to take into consideration whether a child has a severe discrepancy between achievement and intellectual ability …” nor are schools prohibited from using a discrepancy model.
“In determining whether a child has a specific learning disability, a [school] may use a process that determines if the child responds to scientific, research-based intervention as part of the evaluation process described in paragraphs (2) and (3.)” 20 U.S.C. 1414(b)(6) (page 97 in Wrightslaw: Special Education Law)
Read “Additional Procedures for Identifying Children with Specific Learning Disabilities” in the federal special education regulations. (p. 243-245 in Wrightslaw: Special Education Law). These regulations clarify that a child may be found to exhibit “a pattern of strengths and weaknesses in performance, achievement, or both, relative to age, state-approved grade level standards, or intellectual development …” (Regulation 300.9(a)(2)(ii) and 300.311(a)(5)(ii)(B)).
Another area of confusion is when the school must complete a comprehensive evaluation for special education. Parents write that the school won’t evaluate because the child is going through RTI. While the school may use RTI to determine if a child responds to scientific, research-based intervention as part of the evaluation process, RTI “does not replace the need for a comprehensive evaluation.” (See Commentary in the Federal Register, page 46648, which discusses Regulation 300.307(a)(2).
Links to the Commentary: http://www.wrightslaw.com/idea/commentary.htm
Must all potential referrals for evaluations be preceded by RTI?
The federal law does not require schools to use RTI to determine eligibility for any disability. RTI is simply a method school districts may use to help determine SLD eligibility. RTI is not a substitute for a comprehensive evaluation in determining eligibility for special education as a child with SLD.
If educators and administrators actually read the law, that would alleviate much of the confusion about RTI.
Our school says parents cannot ask for an evaluation.
Parents have always been able to request an evaluation – that hasn’t changed. If your state DOE representatives don’t know that, they haven’t read the law.
You need to know what the law says about RTI. That means you need to read the statute, regulations, and the Commentary. Then get a copy of your state special ed regulations and compare them. Are they different re: RTI? Substantially different? How? Is this another time when school people and/or DOE staff have interpreted the law incorrectly?
In A Parent Guide to RTI, Susan Bruce explains the RTI process and what IDEA requires, parent concerns and important questions about RTI, and what RTI means for our kids.
How do you know if a child is “learning disabled” or mentally retarded, emotionally behaviorally disabled – which requires RTI/Positive Behavioral Support?
Federal law does not require schools to provide mentally retarded or emotionally behaviorally disabled children with RTI/Positive behavioral support. The law does not require schools to use RTI before conducting an evaluation. If you have been told these things, you need to know that they are not in the federal law.
Federal law sets out the minimum requirements. States may provide more rights and benefits than federal law. That’s why I advise you to read the law and compare the federal and state regulations – that way, you will know what the law really says.
I share your concerns about the way schools are implementing RTI. Most people responsible for RTI do not have the education and training needed to implement scientifically research based educational interventions. But that’s another can of worms.