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General Education

The following information offers insights into interventions, programs, and supports available to students in the general education setting. This includes in-class interventions through Response to Intervention (RtI) and possible 504 accomodations.
click for a list of deficit-linked accommodations

Response to Intervention
A scientific, research, data-based approach to general education intervention

IDEA 2004 states that a specific learning disability diagnosis may be determined in part by how a child responds to a scientific, research-based intervention: this approach to diagnosis is referred to as response to intervention (RTI). It integrates assessment and intervention within a multi-level prevention system. The RTI process looks at students in the general education population who are given standard instruction and monitors their progress. Students making poor progress are provided evidence-based interventions including specialized instruction. Their progress is continuously monitored and interventions adjusted to maximize improved learning outcomes. When RTI is being used from the very earliest grades, prevention is the ideal.


4 Essential Components to RTI
* A school-wide, multi-level instructional and behavioral system for preventing school failure;
* Screening;
* Progress Monitoring; and
* Data-based decision making for instruction, movement within the multi-level system, and disability identification


Identification/Screening Process
Screening is an assessment procedure characterized by brief, efficient, repeatable testing of age-appropriate academic skills (e.g., identifying letters of the alphabet or reading a list of high frequency words) or behaviors.  Screenings are conducted for the purposes of initially identifying students who are “at-risk” for academic failure and who may require closer monitoring and/or further assessment.

RTI uses a 2-stage screening process.
Stage One: Universal screening, is a brief assessment for all students conducted at the beginning of the school year; however, some schools and districts use it 2-3 times throughout the school year. For students who score below the cut point on the universal screen.
Stage Two: a second stage of screening is then conducted to more accurately predict which students are truly at risk for poor learning outcomes. This second stage involves additional, more in-depth testing or short-term progress
monitoring to confirm a student's at risk status. Screening tools must be reliable, valid, and demonstrate diagnostic accuracy for predicting which students will develop learning or behavioral difficulties.

* Screenings of all students should be conducted three times per academic year (fall, winter, spring) to help ensure the early identification of students potentially at risk and the areas in which they may experience difficulty.
* Screening instruments should be valid and reliable and aligned with grade-level curriculum based on learning standards.

Intervention Process
RTI is a delivered to students in tiers or levels.  There is much discussion about how many tiers should be in RTI models. The three-tiered model is the most common. This means there are different levels of intervention, based on the needs of the student. The level of intervention increases in intensity if a child does not respond to instruction.


Students can and should move back and forth across levels of intervention based on their success. Students can also recieve support in different levels for different acedemic needs.


Primary Intervention Includes
Primary intervention offers a core curriculum that is research-based. Teachers use instructional practices that are culturally and linguistically responsive. To determine need, universal screening is used and assesses students’ current level of performance. Interventions can include differentiated learning activities (e.g., mixed instructional grouping, use of learning centers, peer tutoring) to address individual needs and accommodations to ensure all students have access to the instructional program. Progress in constantly monitored to identify and modify interventions, as needed, to address behavior problems that prevent students from demonstrating the academic skills they possess.


Secondary Intervention Includes
Secondary prevention has at least three distinguishing characteristics:
    o it is evidence-based (rather than research-based);
    o it relies entirely on adult-led small-group instruction rather than whole-class instruction;
    o it involves a clearly articulated, validated intervention, which should be adhered to with fidelity.
Secondary prevention is expected to benefit a large majority of students who do not respond to effective primary prevention. As evidenced by progress monitoring data, students who do not benefit from the interventions provided under secondary prevention may need more intensive instruction or an individualized form of intervention, which can be provided at the tertiary prevention level.


Tirtiary Intervention Includes
Tertiary prevention, the third level of the RTI prevention framework, is the most intensive of the three levels and is individualized to target each student's area(s) of need. At the tertiary level, the teacher begins with a more intensive version of the intervention program used in secondary prevention (e.g., longer sessions, smaller group size, more frequent sessions). By watching the students progress, improvement, or lack thereof, can be detected over time. When data suggests slow or non-existent progress the teacher modifies parts of the intervention program and continues to monitor the student to evaluate which components enhance the rate of student learning. By continually monitoring and modifying (as needed) each student's program, the teacher is able to design an effective, individualized instructional program.

 What is a cut point?
A cut point is a score or benchmark on the scale of a screening tool or a progress monitoring tool to determine whether to provide additional intervention or make instructional change. . Schools will set a ‘cut-point’ below which a student’s academic performance is defined as ‘severely discrepant’ from that of peers in the enrolled grade.











504 Accommodation Plan

(Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act)

Accomodations for those with a physical or mental impairment

A 504 plan, which falls under civil-rights law, is an attempt to remove barriers and allow students with disabilities to participate freely; like the Americans With Disabilities Act, it seeks to "level the playing field," so to speak, so that those students can safely pursue the same opportunities as everyone else.

To qualify for a 504 Plan, under the Amendments Act of 2009, a student must have a (A) physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities or (B) have a record of such an impairment; or (C) be regarded as having such an impairment.


“mental or physical impairment”

  • “any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; genito-urinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine.


  •  any mental or psychological disorder, such as intellectually disability, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities” – [Title 34, Code of Federal Regulations, section 104.3(i-ii0].

“substantially limits”
To determine whether a student’s mental or physical impairment “substantially limits” the major life activity, the district should compare the student’s academic progress to that of the “typical child” of comparable age, not a child of similar intellectually potential. Also, this is defined as “considerable or to a large degree, and precludes impairment that interfere in only a minor way.”
A student is not “substantially limited” simply because the student is not reaching his/her potential. –[T.J.W. By Butler v. Dothan City Board of Education (D.C. Alabama 1997), 26, IDELR 999] –[Title 29, Code of Federal Regulation section 1630.2(j)].

Major Life Activities Include (but are not limited to):

  1. Caring for one’s self
  2. Performing manual tasks
  3. Walking
  4. Seeing
  5. Hearing
  6. Speaking
  7. Breathing
  8. Learning
  9. Working
  10. Eating
  11. Sleeping
  12. Standing
  13. Lifting
  14. Bending
  15. Reading
  16. Concentrating
  17. Thinking
  18. Communicating
  19. Controlling one’s behavior
  20. Functioning at school
  21. Benefit from non-classroom parts of school

Although a "major life function" does not have to impact education, there still needs to be a direct connection between the disability and the impairment in school. For example, a student who struggles in math and has ADHD would not automatically qualify for a 504 Plan. The impairment would have to limit the student’s ability to learn or other major life activity. In other words, the student’s difficulties in math problems would have to be a direct result of the attention disorder (ADHD).

504 plans are developed by a team consisting of the student's parent(s)/guardian(s), the student's teacher(s), the student's counselor, and the 504 coordinator. Additionally, special educators often serve as advisors to 504 committees.  The student's disability and corresponding need for reasonable accommodation are identified and documented in the plan.  Likewise, the plan delineates the specific accommodations, which will be implemented by the school.  All school staff involved in the provision of accommodations should be contacted by the 504 coordinator and made aware of their duties and responsibilities.  The plan itself should be updated at least annually.