RTI and The Special Education Evaluation and Eligibility Process
RTI (Response to Intervention) plays a critical role in how students are identified as having a disability and needing special education services. For many years, putting struggling students into special education was the only option. Requirements for special education eligibility were outdated and left students to struggle for years before help was provided. Students fell further and further behind, making it more difficult to catch up once help was provided.
The RTI process gets help to struggling learners faster, making interventions more successful and keeping students from becoming frustrated. The information collected along the way—such as progress monitoring data—becomes an important part of determining if a student needs to be formally evaluated for special education.
Once a student is determined to be in need of special education, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is developed. The student’s IEP lists the specific skill deficits that are interfering with his or her academic achievement and the progress needed to close that achievement gap. This involves the use of individualized instruction designed for the unique needs of the student.The use of a RTI process as part of a school’s procedures for determining whether a student has a learning disability and needs special education services can potentially:
- Reduce the time a student waits before receiving additional instructional assistance, including special education if needed
- Reduce the overall number of students referred for special education services and increase the number of students who succeed within general education
- Provide critical information about the instructional needs of the student, which can be used to create effective educational interventions
- Limit the amount of unnecessary testing that has little or no instructional relevance
- Ensure that students receive appropriate instruction, particularly in reading, prior to placement in special education
- Increase collaboration among school staff and parents