Local educational agencies (LEAs) may choose to use a response-to-intervention (RtI)
process as one of a variety of measures of evaluating LD eligibility. The reauthorization of the Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 2004 includes the use of RtI in
determining LD eligibility due to concerns with models of identification of LD
that use IQ tests. Additional information regarding the use of RtI in
determining LD eligibility is available in a question-and- answer format from
the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP).
part of an evaluation of LD eligibility, a multidisciplinary team must
determine that the student fails to achieve adequately when provided
appropriate instruction by highly qualified teachers. A school may determine
that the student received appropriate instruction in the general education
setting by reviewing curriculum and grade-level student performance by
class/subject area. This is typically accomplished through a school improvement
program that uses a grade-level or campus-level progress monitoring system.
RtI uses targeted, research-based interventions to meet a student’s needs, to monitor
student progress, and to ensure effective instruction in the general education
setting. The RtI process can provide data that demonstrate an individual student
has received appropriate instruction by showing whether the vast majority of
students were able to master instructional objectives.
In determining whether a student received appropriate instruction, schools
should consider primary language, limited English proficiency, environmental
and cultural factors, as well as whether a student has had frequent moves
and/or absences that may have limited the student’s access to the curriculum. The
school should exclude these factors as the primary cause of a student’s failure
to achieve and/or make sufficient academic progress in determining LD
eligibility. Schools should not determine a student to have an LD even though the
student may show deficits on specific, norm-referenced achievement tests if the
student is showing reasonable progress as a result of response to
research-based instructional strategies.
Failure to achieve:
may use measures such as in-class tests scores, grade average over time (e.g.
six weeks), statewide assessment scores, standardized achievement test scores,
criterion-reference measures, and/or the RtI process to determine a student’s
failure to achieve adequately for a student’s age or to meet state-approved
grade-level standards. A student’s failure to pass the statewide assessment
should not automatically result in a learning disability referral and/or
determination. The determination of a learning disability should include a
variety of information sources and measures, and schools should not base the
determination on a single measure.
The multidisciplinary team must also consider documentation of repeated assessments in determining LD eligibility. Data-based documentation of repeated assessments may include RtI progress monitoring results, in-class tests based on state standards, the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills or TEKS, benchmark assessment, criterion-referenced measures or other regularly administered assessments. Data from repeated assessment results used in the LD eligibility process should typically have been administered at evenly-spaced intervals, such as once per week, over a reasonable period of time. A reasonable period of time may typically fall within a four to eight week period, with six weeks being the average. Schools are not limited to such a time frame and should follow the requirements of the particular instruction program or assessment process in use.
Sufficient progress when provided RtI:
whether a student makes sufficient progress when provided RtI will depend on
the particular criteria of the scientific, research-based interventions. While
schools are encouraged to follow a timeline specific to the RtI process, a
school should consider alternative actions when a student fails to respond to
an increasing intensity of instruction and interventions. Schools have an
obligation to ensure that evaluations of students suspected of having a
disability are not delayed or denied because of implementation of RtI.
If a parent submits a written request to the LEA’s director of special education
services or to an administrative employee of the LEA that a student be
evaluated for special education services, the LEA must follow requirements at
TEC §29.004 for either providing an opportunity for the parent to give written
consent for the evaluation or refuse to provide the evaluation and provide the
parent or legal guardian with the notice of procedural safeguards. Additionally the school must provide prior
written notice to the student’s parent in accordance with 34 CFR §300.503.
RtI does not replace the need for a comprehensive evaluation using a variety of
data sources. A school should inform parents when a student is not making
progress in the general education setting. If the student is not making
progress in the general education setting and demonstrates lack of sufficient
response to intervention(s) after an appropriate period of time (see above for
discussion of RTI process), the school should request parental consent to
evaluate a student suspected of having a learning disability.
The definition of “scientific, research-based” is in federal law at 20 USC,
§7801(37). Local school districts are in the best position to determine
interventions that qualify as meeting the definition of “scientific,
Pattern of strengths and weaknesses:
may determine a pattern of strengths and weaknesses by evaluating specific
areas of cognitive function, academic achievement or both and comparing those
results against each other or in contrast to other measures of student performance.
This process may include significant discrepancies between intellectual ability
and achievement. However, a discrepancy cannot be the sole determinant for
specific learning disability identification. If a discrepancy is a part of the
identification process, it should be part of a standard regression procedure. Simple difference procedures should not be
the basis for the discrepancy. Current research fails to support the validity
of simple difference procedures in determining the existence of a learning
disability. Evaluation instrument manuals typically provide information
specific to identifying a significant discrepancy between intellectual ability
and academic achievement.
conducting an evaluation, schools should include criterion-referenced or
curriculum-based measures to more accurately identify patterns of strengths and
weaknesses and link eligibility determinations to instruction.
In evaluating specific areas of cognitive functioning to determine a pattern of
strengths and weaknesses, schools must consider the federal definition of LD as
“a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in
understanding or in using language” (34 CFR §300.8(c)(10). There should be a link between an identified
pattern of strengths and weaknesses and the failure to achieve adequately as
described above when used as a determination of LD. Schools should not determine students whose
classroom achievement indicates a pervasive weakness that does not constitute a
pattern of strengths and weaknesses to have a LD. Schools also should not
determine students who meet the criteria as having an intellectual disability
to have a LD.
must use professional judgment, including consideration of multiple
information/data sources to support the eligibility determination, in making
the determination of LD. Information/data sources may include statewide
assessment results, formal evaluation test scores (IQ; achievement; cognitive
function/processing), RtI progress monitoring data, informal data (e.g. rating
scales, student work samples, interviews, parent input) and anecdotal reports.
Such information/data sources must include an observation of the student in the
student’s learning environment as related to the area of LD.
conducting a reevaluation for LD eligibility, schools should continue to use a
variety of data sources, possibly including an RtI process. During the
reevaluation process, schools are encouraged to: 1) use caution in determining
that a student is no longer eligible for special education services; 2)
carefully consider the student’s response to removal of such supports; and 3)
examine whether the special education instruction has been appropriate and, if
so, whether such evidence argues for a continuation of LD eligibility. A major
consideration in the reevaluation process should be the student’s ability to
meet the instructional demands of grade-level standards without special
education and related services.
reports of LD eligibility should include: 1) the basis for making the
determination; 2) relevant behavior and medical findings, if any, and; 3)
whether the student fails to achieve adequately and does not make sufficient
academic progress or exhibits a pattern of strengths and weaknesses. Any data
collected as a result of RtI as well as the instructional strategies
implemented should be incorporated in the report. The report should also
include documentation that the school notified the student’s parents of: 1) the
school policies regarding performance data collected and general education
services provided; 2) strategies for increasing the student’s rate of learning,
and; 3) the parent’s right to request an evaluation.