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.

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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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