Several weeks ago I responded to a mom who was stuck in RTI purgatory. My advice for her was:
Step 1 – Learn all she could about RTI and what RTI is supposed to do.
Step 2 (a little more tricky) – Educate the school people so they understand that the school is required to evaluate a child for special ed eligibility.
Step 3 – Learn effective advocacy skills, in addition to learning about RTI and special ed eligibility.
Tip: If your child has a disability and should be found eligible for special education services, you will have to… negotiate with school personnel for a long time. Unless you are prepared to take your child out of public school and educate him yourself forever, you must learn how to deal with school people.
Learn Effective Advocacy Skills
You will find tons of info about how to be a more effective advocate on the Wrightslaw site. Links to help you complete Step 3.
Start by reading articles in the Advocacy section of the site: https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/advo.index.htm
Advocating for Your Child – Getting Started. Good special education services are intensive and expensive. Resources are limited. If you have a child with special needs, you may wind up battling the school district for the services your child needs. To prevail, you need information, skills, and tools.
Asking the Right Questions. How does the school perceive you? Good article about how to ask questions and get better services.
Game Plan for New Parents. Introductory article; focuses on importance of planning and preparation.
Advocacy Rule #1: Write Things Down When They Happen. You can’t wait until the last minute to prepare documentation. Documenting events and conversations later is never as effective or accurate as writing things down, in detail, at the time they occur. Here are some tips for parents, teachers, and paraprofessionals.
My Child’s Test Scores Dropping, School Doesn’t Care – What Can I Do Sue Whitney advises this parent, “You need a game plan. Before you can devise a game plan, you need to gather information, manage your emotions, and do your homework.”
Parent Advocacy: What You Should Do – and Not Do. Good advice from attorney Leslie Margolis about steps parents can take to get quality educational services for their children with disabilities.
Understanding the Playing Field. Indiana advocate Pat Howey talks to parents about trust, expectations, power struggles between parents and schools and how to avoid them, the parental role, and the need to understand different perspectives.
If you can swing it, attend a Wrightslaw program about Special Ed Law and Advocacy. The schedule is here: https://www.wrightslaw.com/speak/schedule.htm
If no programs are close enough, you can order the books and Special Ed law and Advocacy program on a CD ROM: https://www.wrightslaw.com/store/cd.law.advo.html
My son is in 2grade and has a genetic neuromuscular diseaes and has been on an IEP since preschool recieves PT&OT. Starting having some behavior problems, they put him on RTI for math. No RTI was needed in 1st grade as it was deemed uneccesary. Continued having behavior problems. It was suggested they do a functional behabior analysis, and see the social worker every week. After the analysis, they recommended a behavior chart and cont. social work, even though the results they gave me of the FBA state that he is significantly at risk for ADHD in all categories. I honestly thought from the start that he was acting out because his phys. disability. New district this year, they did what the other district should have and suggested an evaluation for ADHD. He ended up having to see a child psychologist because of failing to ignore their data.
Last year my son was placed by school staff in RTI (10th grade). He also has an IEP and has a reading goal. He currently reads at 4th grade fluency, college level comprehension. He started in Tier 1 and then moved to Tier 2, and only got through three sections. This year he receives no RTI because he passed his state graduation tests, even though his IEP reading goal states he will continue with RTI. The school sent home progress reports last week and quote results from Scholastic Reading Inventory. I asked to get a copy of his SRI results, and the reports the SRI program generates. I was told the school only tests kids using SRI, but does not implement this program. Huh? I don’t know what to ask at this point. My son wants to go to college and we need to get his reading fluency on grade level. Any suggestions? Thank you!
Questions such as how long should students stay in tiers, questions to ask, things parents MUST know are here!
KELLY, your post says ” the teacher is ready to recommend RTI to try and identify his LD or problem.” Is ready to recommend RTI?? I am a little confused.
RTI is a school wide model, either the school is doing RTI or NOT! RTI is a REGULAR education, school wide approach meant to address the needs of all learners. All learners are provided with adequate instruction to BEGIN with in the regular education classroom, this would be considered Tier 1.
RTI is not a process that is begun when we believe a student has a disability, if it is believed that a student has a disability, an evaluation is REQUIRED. If I were the parent I would be concerned, if my child were in third grade, and the school was just now saying RTI, in theory RTI would have already been implemented because it is a general ed process.
Kelly – If the school is coming to you to get your child testing to see if he qualifies for spec ed services that could be a good thing. It will be more difficult as your child gets older if you find out later he needs spec ed & you try to get him in when he is 16 or 17. Read as much as you can on the IEP process & ask parents with special needs kids. There may be a support group available as well. I know how you feel when you are knew to all of this. It can be overwhelming & it can be difficult to get the right supports for your son. I was very tired & overwhelmed when I was dealing with the schools for my 3 sons but now that they are grown up & out of school I am glad I did it because I truly believe that if they had not gotten the help when they were little, it would be much worse now.
Kelly the process can indeed work smoothly, but nothing is perfect. Just remember books, blogs, and websites are not necessarily unbiased, nor should they be all the time, as they target certain audiences (e.g. parents, teachers, advocates). Besides the extreme makes better news than the typical.
The best way to make the process work smoothly is for everyone to be honest and to rely on data not opinion about your son’s performance and progress. Just keep communicating with your son’s school so you know what they are doing and ask what might help at home. Don’t be afraid to tell them what you think might help at school too.
It could be an uphill journey but there is a lot the school and you can do by communicating to lower the slope of that hill.
Kelly, the answer to your question is YES, it can work smoothly. Recognize and send thank you notes to those who have a part in making progress. Ask for clarification rather than contradict staff. Start meetings with a review of successes. Have clearly defined goals, and document progress toward those goals. Being “pleasantly persistent” can overcome glitches, while maintaining a positive relationship. It takes starting correctly, with the advocacy techniques outlines by the Wrights. But success builds on itself, as the TEAM recognizes how their efforts are producing positive results. My son if proof that the system can work and work smoothly. He is in his 2nd semester as a full time college student. Yet I was told at one point that he would never learn to read. Check out our success story.
Our family is just starting out at step 0, i would imagine. Our 3rd grader has struggled since 1st grade and now after recent grade reports came out and test scores have been up and down, we (or the teacher) is ready to recommend RTI to try an identify his LD or problem so that we can get him some “tools”. I understand that WE need to educate ourselves so that we can all accomplish the goal of helping our son, but all of these blogs, websites, books, etc seem to stress that it is ALWAYS an uphill battle. My life is already to stressed with mommy hood, work outside the home, and being a good wife, that I don’t think I am up for this war. Does the process EVER work smoothly, where the parents and the school and district all work together for the good of the student without pressure from the parents to keep everyone on task?
Kelly – Debbie advised “yes, it can work smoothly.” Read Debbie’s success story, How I Got the School to Change My Son’s Program & Placement. Debbie continues to work as an advocate and as a trainer to both parents and professionals. Debbie answers more questions and provides helpful advice on the Wrightslaw Ask the Advocates page.
On that page, you’ll also find advice from Susan Bruce, another mom with a story to tell. Don’t miss her success story, From a Victim to a Mighty Force: The Numbers Do Not Lie. Susan is now an education coordinator and parent trainer for the SC Parent Training & Information Center, PRO*Parents of South Carolina, Inc.