“We’re trying to be uniform in terms of enter and exit criteria, who gets occupational therapy or speech and language,” said Kerble.
Developing a more constructive method of referral is part and parcel to the overall improvements the district is looking to make. Looking at the figures for this school year, said Kerble, the number of parent referrals that yielded non-eligible findings looks to be growing. A letter sent home to parents is imploring them to utilize the existing RTI system in place in the district, beginning in the classroom.
If a classroom teacher determines a parent request has merit, the request will be brought before an RTI team of teachers and special education staffers that utilize criteria and observation to determine need for services.
“Parents should really work closely with the teacher and go through the referral process because we’re finding when the parents go through the RTI process, and teachers go the RTI team, the eligibility rate is around 72%,” said Kerble. “In other words the schools do a good job, and when they refer the child to special education they’re doing the right thing.”
In recent years the district invested thousands into a retooling of the RTI program, bringing in a specialist to conduct training and implement an effective system or identifying and meeting the needs of the special education population. RTI teams set up to work with teachers on intervention strategies have become a vital resource for teachers in making their own referrals for SPED, and in responding to parent concerns regarding the potential need for services. Going forward, that’s going to be the prescribed method of referral at each of the schools in the district.
“If you’re spending that much time testing and assessing during the day then you have less time offering directed service to students,” said Kerble. “And the time the teacher could take planning and preparing at night, they’re writing out reports or meeting, ultimately for a no finding for Special Education.”
“All I’m asking is for parents to work closer with the classroom teacher and keep a dialogue open and wait for the teacher to go through the RTI process,” said Kerble.