As a county we have implemented Response to Intervention (RtI) as a prerequisite for our special education process. This policy ensures that students experiencing difficulties will receive a great deal of extra help before being referred to child study. As a result many students get the help that they need to be successful without being qualified for special education. If the assistance does produce documented growth, the child study committee has a wealth of information to use in making their decision. As an administrator I fully support the process and see the benefit for most students.
A recent case caused to examine some possible negative effects. RtI requires parental involvement to begin. If parents are unable or unwilling to participate the process becomes stalled. We will still provide intervention, but it can go undocumented. In our case through some extraordinary measures we were able to involve the parent and move forward. What happens to the student who does not have an advocate who can help negotiate red tape associated with a policy? In another case where the parent was active and well informed the process move forward quickly without any problems. I am beginning to question if this policy might have the unintended effect of delaying or impeding services for disadvantaged students. We have kept a close watch on the number of students identified forspecial education since implementing RtI and the numbers are falling. As a result of the policy class discussions about evaluating the effectiveness of a policy, I will recommend that monitor the number of students who fail to make progress but are not advanced to child study.