Response to Intervention Pyramid
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) ensures that children with disabilities receive appropriate services. Since this act was reauthorized in 2004, and regulations were enacted in 2006, work has been ongoing in the quest to find better solutions and initiatives to improve children's lives.
Schools and districts must use a range of tools to help those with and without specific learning disabilities (SLD), from academic and behavioral screening, interventions, and the evaluation of processing strengths and weaknesses.
IDEA and the regulations that apply to the identification of students with learning disabilities require a range of strategies and a comprehensive evaluation to identify SLD. The criteria for such identification, found in the federal regulations at 34 CFR §300.307, provide that:
Both the IDEA §614(b)(2)(B) law and the regulations 34CRF §300.304 (b)(2) state that in conducting its evaluation "the agency must not use any single measure or assessment as the sole criterion for determining whether a child is a child with a disability and for determining an appropriate educational program for the child." These regulations represent best practices in assessment and ensure children who might have SLD receive the specific measures required to match their individual needs.
The regulations require an SEA (state education agency) to adopt criteria for determining if a child has specific learning disability (34 CFR §300.307(a)). Does this preclude the SEA from mandating RTI as the sole criterion used to determine if a child has a SLD? Must an LEA (local education agency) follow the state-developed criteria for determining if a child has a SLD?
An LEA must comply with the criteria adopted by the SEA regarding this requirement. Section 300.304(b) states that in conducting an evaluation, a public agency must use a variety of assessment tools and strategies to gather relevant functional, developmental, and academic information about the child. This includes obtaining any data from a parent that may assist in determining eligibility. The public agency may not use any single measure or assessment as the only factor in determining whether a child has a disability and for developing an appropriate educational program for the child.
The Department [of Education] provided additional clarification regarding this issue in the Analysis of Comments and Changes section of the regulations, page 46648. This section states that "an RTI process does not replace the need for a comprehensive evaluation. A public agency must use a variety of data-gathering tools and strategies even if an RTI process is used. The results of an RTI process may be one component of the information reviewed as part of the evaluation procedures required under 34 CFR §300.304 and 300.305. As required in 34CFR §300.304(b), consistent with section 614(b)(2) of the Act, an evaluation must include a variety of assessment tools and strategies and cannot rely on any single procedure as the sole criterion for determining eligibility for special education and related services."