Parent Brochure: RtI & Sped

A Parent’s Guide to Entitlement
Special Education Services:
Specific Learning Disability
St. Croix River Education District
Member Districts: Chisago Lakes, East Central,
Hinckley-Finlayson, Pine City, Rush City
425 South Dana Avenue P.O. Box 637
Rush City, Minnesota 55069
Phone/V/TTY: (320) 358-3616 FAX: (320) 358-1250
Metro: (651) 674-2436
Kimberly Gibbons, Ph. D., Special Education Director
August 2007
The reauthorized Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was signed into law on
December 3, 2004 by President Bush. The revision of this law is referred to as the
Individuals with Disabilities Improvement Act (IDEA 2004). Many aspects of the law went
into effect on July 1, 2005 including changes in requirements for special education
evaluations. One of the major changes of the law affects how school districts evaluate if a
student qualifies for special education services for a specific learning disability (SLD).
Before the change in the federal law, school districts determined that a student was eligible to
receive SLD services based upon the results of a variety of tests including intellectual tests
(IQ tests) and achievement tests. There were some concerns with this testing approach to
determine eligibility for special education SLD services. Testing often resulted in students
missing out on classroom instruction, and confusion and frustration about why some students
with low achievement qualify for special education services and other students did not. Most
importantly, the results of the IQ and achievement tests do not provide any useful
information for teachers to use in planning instructional programs for students.
A New Approach to Evaluate for a Specific Learning Disability
Making an entitlement (eligibility) decision for special education services for students with a
possible specific learning disability involves a team process. This team, including parents,
teachers, and other educators, makes decisions regarding evaluating the need for special
education services. This evaluation process may result in the development of an Individual
Education Plan (IEP) on behalf of the student, which includes specifically designed and
implemented instruction, progress monitoring and due process rights (see also Notice of
Procedural Safeguards-Parental Rights for Special Education). All of these components
are designed to make the student more successful educationally.
Beginning with the 2005-06 school year, the Chisago Lakes, East Central, HinckleyFinlayson, Pine City, and Rush City School Districts, members of the St. Croix River
Education District (SCRED), will use a problem solving process that incorporates a
Response to Intervention (RTI) component. Instead of looking for differences between IQ
and Achievement test scores, , these school districts will conduct testing to determine which
students are benefiting from or responding to powerful interventions designed by the team.
RTI is a method of evaluating whether a student is benefiting from a scientifically based
instructional program through frequent and continuous measurement of academic
performance and data based decision-making. Special education services are provided to
those students who do not show adequate or desired improvement in their academic skills
after receiving well-designed instruction or interventions.
The RTI process is part of the problem solving team process currently in place in each of the
member districts of SCRED. Upon each new referral, a team of educators will complete a
five-step problem solving process. Special education decision-making occurs when a student
has does not make adequate or desired progress or improvement after implementation of two
documented, scientifically based interventions (state law requires at least two documented
interventions before a special education evaluation). Solutions to instructional problems are
addressed through the use of a Problem Solving Model (PSM) using the following 5-step
1. Problem Identification-what is it that we expect the student to be able to do and
what are they currently doing?
2. Problem Analysis-why is the problem occurring?
3. Plan Development-what goals do we wish to have the student reach? What plans or
steps are we going to take to help the student reach those goals? How will we
measure the progress the student is making towards reaching those goals?
4. Plan Implementation-is the plan being implemented as desired?
5. Plan Evaluation-was the plan successful in reaching the goals established for the
The diagram below illustrates the relationship between the problem solving process and an
entitlement or eligibility decision for special education services for a specific learning
disability (SLD). Evaluation data collected during problem solving process assists teams
deciding to continue with interventions or to provide special education services.
A student is considered eligible for special education services for a specific learning
disability (SLD) when:
1. The student’s academic skill level is less than desired from that of his or her grade
level peers or class mates;
2. The student’s rate of academic growth shows that they are not catching up to desired
levels (evident that they are not making adequate progress to “catch-up” to his or her
grade level peers);
3. The educational team determines the student needs special education services in order
to make adequate academic progress.
4. The educational team also determines that the student’s academic skill problems are
not primarily the result of:
a) a visual, hearing, or motor impairment;
b) mental retardation;
c) emotional disturbance;
d) cultural difference;
e) limited English proficiency;
f) environmental or economic disadvantage; or
g) lack of scientifically based instruction in basic skill areas.
Determining Success
When the IEP team determines that a student has made sufficient progress, whereby the
difference between the student’s performance and that of his or her grade level peers has
been decreased to an acceptable level, and that the student has generalized newly acquired
skills to life situations, then the student may “exit” from special education services. Exit
from or discontinuation of special education services means the student no longer needs the
services provided through special education. Even though the student has discontinued
special education services, ongoing monitoring and plans for instructional support are made
at the exit meeting.
Student’s progress towards IEP goals is measured frequently to help determine when
instructional changes are needed or when the student no longer needs special education
services. Data from the frequent measures of academic performance is graphed to display
the student’s actual performance and their progress towards academic goals.
The sample graph below illustrates the method of frequent measurement to determine the
student’s rate of progress towards reaching academic goals:
Words Read Correctly in 3rd Grade Material
Number of Words Read Correct
During Intervention
Goal Line
9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Key Definitions
Response to Intervention (RTI
The practice of providing high quality instruction matched to student needs and using rate of
learning over time to make important decisions. Three important components of RTI are 1.
high quality instruction; 2. the slope of learning is the primary piece of information in
decision making; and 3. it includes a range of important educational decisions.
Problem Solving Model (PSM): Solutions to instructional and behavioral problems
are addressed by going through a 5-step process: (1) Problem Identification, (2) Problem
Analysis, (3) Plan Development, (4) Plan Implementation, and (5) Plan Evaluation. (see
previous discussion)
General Outcome Measures: A quick and reliable indicator of academic
performance in such areas as reading, math, and written expression.
Current rate of performance on General Outcome Measures. Consider a
student who was administered three reading probes and had scores of 100/5 (meaning they
read 100 words correct and read five words incorrectly) 91/3, and 102/6. The median
(middle) score of 100/5 would be the student’s level of current performance.
Slope: Rate of growth or improvement in performance over time. In the area of reading,
growth rates typically are referred to as the increase in the number of words read correctly
per week. The student’s weekly growth or improvement rate is calculated based on frequent
(at least monthly) progress using several data points.
Dually Discrepant: In order for students to be eligible for special education under the
category of SLD, they must be different from both local norms on level of performance and
slope (rate of growth).
Target Scores: Performance on General Outcome Measures have been linked to
performance on the state-mandated Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs). This
linking project has created a series of target scores at each grade and assessment period for a
General Outcome Measure, such that students who are at or above the target score have
around an 80 to 85 percent probability of reaching grade-level proficiency on the upcoming
MCA. For example, the target score for the Grade 3 winter Oral Reading Fluency measure is
91 words read correct per minute. Students who reach this target are considered “on-track”,
and likely to reach grade-level proficiency on the grade 3 reading MCA. Target scores have
been set for fall, winter, and spring benchmark periods.
Normative Scores: These are scores that provide information about how a student
performed relative to some comparison group. For example, a student who scores in the 50th
percentile performed as well or better than 50% of the students in the comparison group. This
score would likely be considered in the “average” range for that group. Comparison groups
can range from the student’s classmates to a sample of students nationwide, depending on the
purpose of the assessment.
Scientifically Based Instruction/Intervention: This term is often used
interchangeable with terms like evidence based or research based intervention. Instructional
techniques, interventions, or curriculum that are based on studies that (a) use empirical
methods, (b) include rigorous and adequate data analyses, (c) use measurements or
observational methods that provide reliable and valid data, (d) employ experimental or quasiexperimental designs, (e) are replicable, and (f) undergo a formal peer review process.
Exclusionary Criteria: Students can not be labeled SLD if their learning problems
are primarily the result of a visual, hearing, or motor impairment, mental retardation,
emotional disturbance, cultural difference, limited English proficiency, environmental or
economic disadvantage, or lack of scientifically based instruction in basic skill areas.
General Education Intervention: An intervention that is delivered using
regular education resources.
For More Information…
Contact your school district’s school psychologist:
Chisago Lakes
Melissa Martinson
Intermediate School
Chisago Lakes
Chisago Lakes Primary
Jason Riebe
Taylors Falls Elementary
Chisago Lakes Middle School
Jamie Nord
Chisago Lakes High School
Chisago Lakes Family Center
East Central
Dean Fokken
(ext. 6166)
Dean Fokken
Pine City
Joe Pendleton
Rush City
Shawn Chinn
(ext. 326)
-OrKerry Bollman, SCRED Academic Collaborative Planner
Holly Windram, Assistant Director of SPED
Jeff Menigo, Unique Learners Manager