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Schools Warned About Delaying Special Education Assessments


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Federal education officials are warning schools across the nation not to use stall tactics when it comes to evaluating children who may have a disability.

In a letter sent to state directors of special education late last month, Melody Musgrove who heads the Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs said she is aware that some schools may be using an educational approach known as “response to intervention” as reason to “delay or deny a timely initial evaluation for children suspected of having a disability.”

Such a delay is unwarranted, Musgrove said.

Response to intervention is an approach employed by schools to improve academic outcomes for children who are struggling. The technique focuses on pinpointing students who may need help and providing appropriate interventions, which are closely monitored.

Some consider the technique helpful in identifying students who may need special education services, particularly those with learning disabilities.

However, Musgrove makes clear in her letter that while information gathered through response to intervention can be used to determine if a child has a disability, using the method in and of itself is no reason to keep a child from receiving a disability evaluation, especially if a parent has requested one.

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Comments (6 Responses)

  1. Johannes says:

    Somebody always seems to find a way to abuse a good idea.

  2. johnpsyc says:

    Can you provide a link to the letter. Can’t find it on OSEP website.


  3. Amagoh says:

    I have been concerned with RTI as well. The RTI process in practice does tend to postpone the evaluation process. However, I am more concerned that students with specific learning disabilities are not identified for further evaluations because they do respond to intervention. I find that instead that the RTI process itself, identifies students with below average cognitive abilities with low scores across academic areas as having a suspected disability and thus approved for evaluation. More and more students are being identified as having a learning disability requiring instruction in all academic areas.

  4. chuck middleton says:

    My 12 yr old son who has been diagnosed by his doctor & psychologist with ADHD & Aspergers Disorder attends LJ Alleman Middle School in Lafayette Parish in Lafayette, La., has via me his father & trial lawyer, made a written request on the school & parish school board, for an immediate IDEA evaluation pursuant to a memorandum issued last week by Ruth Ryder with the Federal Department of Education which stated unambiguously that states & it’s school board’s cannot delay or deny a child even “suspected” of having a disability from an immediate IDEA evaluation, by recommending RTI. Following the request a meeting was held at the school, where the Special Ed representative @ the meeting recommenced placing my son in a 3-tier RTI for 4 weeks & then be considered for an IDEA evaluation which is a clear “delay” to an immediate IDEA evaluation which is in violation of the federal mandate prohibiting any delay or denial to an immediate IDEA evaluation by implementing an RTI. I’ve filed a complaint with the state director of IDEA in Baton Rouge & now waiting to see if the school board complies with the mandate or if I’m going to have to file a federal lawsuit to force the school board to comply & for damages for violating my son’s federal right to an immediate IDEA evaluation as being a student with 2 disabilities diagnosis in hand.

  5. SabrinaS says:

    There is no reason to delay an evaluation if a child is suspected of having a learning disability. That is total neglect.

  6. PBMom says:

    This does not just happen with RTI. Our district is notorious for doing evaluations until the very last minute after having 60 days to complete their evaluation. Then they wait another 30 days to hold the ARD. If you request something in February, you are looking basically at having an ARD by May, and down in the south, school is out at the end of May beginning of June, so then you have summer, and then you are already into the next year. They are sneaky, too. Our district waited until I agreed/disagreed with our annual IEP meeting (after having agreed to getting ADL goals out of the IEP because there was too much data collection involved, but agreeing that they would give me some sort of accountability because “they worked on these things anyday anyway.” I was trying to pick my battles and my child’s main issue was still communication after 11 years in the school district (and he still could not read or write). Then after I signed, they only had that day to complete the parent evaluation for inhome/parent training (and I won’t go into the whole didn’t call me an ambulance after I passed out from stress/exhaustion on their property and made me attend a 4-1/2 hour meeting to finish the ARD, of a 60+ hour pre-ARD meeting and ARD meeting). They came back 3 days later recommending there was no need for parent training (because the IEP no longer had any ADL goals in it). This meeting was 3 days after school ended. It is ridiculous what these districts get away with, with zero accountability.

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