Minimum Requirements of a Response to Intervention Program (RtI)
X. Use of RtI in the Determination of a Learning Disability
Criteria for Determining Learning Disability (LD)
NYS has established criteria for the CSE to use when determining if a student has a learning disability.
These criteria include consideration of data and instructional information obtained through an RtI process which provides important information to determine if a student needs to be referred for an individual evaluation to determine if the student has a learning disability. Effective on and after July 1, 2012, a school district must have an RtI process in place as it may no longer use the severe discrepancy between achievement and intellectual ability to determine that a student in kindergarten through grade four has a learning disability in the area of reading.
In making a determination of eligibility for special education, the CSE must determine that underachievement of the student is not due to lack of appropriate instruction in reading (including the five essential components), mathematics or limited English proficiency. The data from RtI can help to document that the reason for a student’s poor performance or underachievement is not due to lack of appropriate instruction or limited English proficency. Along with other individual evaluation information, RtI data can yield important descriptive information about how children learn and why they may be having difficulties.
When determining if a student has a learning disability, the data from multiple sources indicates that the student, when provided appropriate instruction:
- does not adequately achieve grade level standards in the areas of reading and/or mathematics;
- (a) is not making sufficient progress toward meeting those standards when provided with appropriate instruction consistent with an RtI model;
(b) exhibits a pattern of strengths and weaknesses in performance and/or achievement relative to age or grade level standards as found relevant by the CSE;
- has learning difficulties that are not primarily the result of a visual, hearing or motor disability; mental retardation; emotional disturbance; cultural factors; environmental or economic disadvantage; or limited English proficiency.
Process for Determining Learning Disability Using RtI Data
While the data collected through an RtI process may be used as part of a student’s individual evaluation to determine if a student has a learning disability, it may not be the sole source of information to make this determination. A student suspected of having a learning disability must receive a comprehensive multidisciplinary evaluation. Consistent with section 200.4(b) of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, the individual evaluation must include a variety of assessment tools and strategies including a physical examination, a social history, other appropriate assessments as necessary, an individual psychological evaluation and an observation. The observation of the student can include information from an observation in routine classroom instruction done either prior to referral for an evaluation or after referral has been made.
The student-centered data collected and information on instructional strategies used throughout an RtI process provides important information to inform the CSE about the student’s progress to meet age or State-approved grade-level standards. This data should include, but not be limited to:
- data that demonstrates that the student was provided appropriate instruction delivered by qualified personnel including research-based instruction in reading;
- progress monitoring data that describes how a student responded to particular interventions of increasing intensity;
- instructional information on a student’s skill level and rate of learning relative to age/grade level standards or criterion-referenced benchmarks; and
- evaluative data including CBM regarding a student’s performance that is useful and instructionally relevant.
The CSE must prepare a written report documenting the eligibility determination of a student suspected of having a learning disability which must include the basis for how the decision was made and, if the student has participated in an RtI process:
- the instructional strategies used,
- the student-centered data collected, and
- documentation that parents were notified when the student required an intervention beyond that provided to all students in the general education classroom, informing them about the amount and nature of student performance data that would be collected; the general education services that would be provided in the RtI program; strategies that would be used for increasing their child’s rate of learning and the parents right to refer their child for special education services.
Appendix B provides NYS’ model form for documentation of a learning disability eligibility determination.
Nonpublic School Students
NYSED recommends that all schools, including nonpublic schools, implement RtI programs.
If a student from a nonpublic school is referred for an evaluation to determine if the student has a disability and there is no data from an RtI process available because the nonpublic school does not implement an RtI process, information from other sources should be obtained regarding the type of instruction the student has received and the student’s progress in the school’s curriculum (such as teacher reports, classroom tests, standardized tests, report cards and information from parents). Nonpublic school students cannot be denied an evaluation to determine if the student has a disability or the provision of services, if eligible, based on the nonpublic school not implementing an RtI process and the lack of data available from an RtI process. The determination of eligibility is based upon a comprehensive multidisciplinary evaluation consistent with section 200.4(b) of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education. The parent and CSE may agree to extend the timeline to complete the individual evaluation in order to have the student participate in a process to assess the student’s response to scientific, research-based intervention (RtI).
Quality Indicators for Use of RtI Data in a Learning Disability Determination
- The determination of a student with a learning disability is based upon a comprehensive multidisciplinary evaluation.
- Data based on the student’s response to scientific-based intervention is used as part of the individual evaluation information to determine if a student has a learning disability.
- The CSE considers progress monitoring data that describes how a student responded to particular interventions of increasing intensity.
- Student’s skill level and rate of learning relative to age/grade level standards or criterion-referenced benchmarks are considered.
- Instructionally relevant evaluative data including curriculum-based measures regarding a student’s performance is considered.
- Student information from the RtI process provides data-based documentation on whether the student has made sufficient progress to meet age or State-approved grade-level standards in the area of the suspected disability.
- Teacher(s) providing RtI interventions participate in the CSE meeting to determine a student’s eligibility for special education.