Saturday, January 18, 2014

RtI vs Severe Discrepancy

I've thought many times about what to say here. I've gone through many emotions over the past few days, each emotion completely changing what I want to say.

We have 10 days until our meeting and I still have no RtI data or information.

After many, many requests for data, I still have no idea what is going on in the Goofy One's social skills group. I don't know his goals, or objectives, or progress, or even how that progress is being measured. I've asked and asked and tried to be cool and polite and specific and the asking turned into a heated exchange. Surprisingly, I was not the one that lost their temper.

I told you that I gave them my notes for the meeting, that did not go over well, apparently. But, after sending my notes, I did get reading data. (I'll share that in a minute.)

Well, after a few more e-mails back and forth with no progress, I really want this information. I need this data. So, I'm going to drop off the evaluations I've collected for the team to review before the meeting. Maybe if I give them the next piece of what I have, someone will give me something in return. Goofy's appointment with his pediatrician to get recommendations isn't until the 22nd so these evaluations are all I have to offer right now.

I go to the school and I wait.

When the principal has a minute for me, I started to hand her the evaluations, but she invited me into a room. I was explaining to her what I was there for since she hadn't received my e-mail from that morning. She was draped over the table with her head propped on her hands looking at me with a bored look as we talked. I didn't really pick up on that, if I had been smart, I would have walked away then, but I was thinking, "Oh, she's really tired. I wonder if she's having a rough time at home."

I was trying to figure out how they know their RtI works if they don't measure data when she got frustrated, sat back in her seat, crossed her arms and huffed, "well, we call it RtI but it's not, really." I was confused about how they can 'call' it RtI when Missouri's DESE explains what RtI is, when she snapped that there are no rules for how RtI is to be implemented because "there's nothing stating that we have to do RtI at all." At this point, I can understand her frustration because I am just not getting it. I don't understand, and she keeps saying the same things over and over, which don't answer my questions.

What comes next, however...

I was trying to figure out the district's policy on using the severe discrepancy model vs the RtI. I was showing her in IDEA 300.307(a) where it says that states:
(1) Must not require the use of a severe discrepancy between intellectual ability and achievement for determining whether a child has a specific learning disability, as defined in §300.8(c)(10);
(2) Must permit the use of a process based on the child’s response to scientific, research-based intervention; and
(3) May permit the use of other alternative research-based procedures for determining whether a child has a specific learning disability, as defined in §300.8(c)(10).
She interrupted me, pointed to the bold letters and said, "that's for Specific Learning Disability!" uh, yeah. Then she told me that the things I am looking at are for Special Ed students, Goofy is not a Special Ed student. Never mind the fact that IDEA's laws for evaluation, eligibility, IEPs, and placement are in effect throughout that whole process; according to the psychologist who evaluated him in November, there is no reason, based on her evaluation, that Goofy would not qualify for an IEP. So, I responded that he will be. and that's where the conversation went straight to hell. "A parent can request evaluation," she grinds out, "that doesn't mean they'll get one."

and now I'm trying to figure out where to go from here.

I don't understand how this meeting coming up can be the meeting that determines the need to evaluate when I haven't requested evaluation yet and based on what I took as a threat, I'm afraid the decision has already been made before they even saw the evaluations I got at private expense and without my input as his parent. I have effectively been shut out of the team again.

I can't allow that to happen but I need to carefully consider what my next steps are.

I do have good news (of sorts), though. I got the data I requested for Goofy's remedial reading once I found out reading was not part of his RtI and I made a chart, check it out:

Data: this is the data collected from his Reading Specialist in the time she spends with him.
RC: this is his reading level in the classroom that is sent home on report cards.
M: this is what his report card says would be meeting expectations.

I asked his Reading Specialist for an explanation on the difference between the progress she has observed and the progress his teacher documented. She said what I am seeing is very typical and the difference is most likely the setting. Goofy only has one other child in his reading group. There are 23+/- children in his class. The Reading Specialist has the advantage of being able to tailor instruction to the child's individual needs, and there are no outside distractions in their lessons which makes it easier for the kids to focus on reading and writing tasks.

It seems to me that in a smaller class with more specialized instruction, he's close to, or right on target for meeting expectations, while in the traditional classroom with a 504, the gap between where he is and where he's expected to be is widening with every report card.

This is the tragedy of the severe discrepancy model. "Many districts refuse to evaluate or provide special education services until after a child fails. This "wait to fail" model has tragic results. The neurological "window of opportunity" for learning to read begins to close during elementary school. Late remediation is more difficult and carries a high price tag, emotionally and economically." -Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, Second Edition, pg 47.

If the severe discrepancy model is used, all I can do is hope we can work on reading, writing, and listening comprehension through an educational diagnosis of Other Health Impairment (ADHD) and I'm ... beat. There is nothing else I can do. and then there's the problem of how does he get Other Health Impared if they have already decided not to evaluate?

Here's the beauty of parental rights...

CFR 300.502
(c) Parent-initiated evaluations. If the parent obtains an independent educational evaluation at public expense or shares with the public agency an evaluation obtained at private expense, the results of the evaluation—
(1) Must be considered by the public agency, if it meets agency criteria, in any decision made with respect to the provision of FAPE to the child; and
(2) May be presented by any party as evidence at a hearing on a due process complaint under subpart E of this part regarding that child.

and then I realize...

My first seriously dirty look in this conversation was when I corrected her evaluation timeline. We go through this every time. Eventually, either she'll get it right or I'll learn not to correct her. But, here's the point... they don't know the timeline. They don't know that ADHD falls under OHI. They don't know that Auditory Processing Disorder falls under Specific Learning Disability. They don't know that dyslexia is covered at all.

...and I'm going to just believe what I'm told about the severe discrepancy being the criteria for SLD?

So I search. All week I've been searching for the district's written policy on what is used to determine SLD. Today I realize, I've been looking at the wrong district, and when I find what I'm looking for, I realize why I couldn't find it searching for severe discrepancy being the basis for determining SLD,
"The BLT (building level team) may try many interventions during this time to try to met your child's needs — your child's response to intervention (RTI) will be the basis for whether or not your child is referred for an evaluation."

Alright, then. I still need that data. I guess it's time to go a different route and ask someone new.

1 comment:

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