Spring School Psychologist. RTI² Training Q &A

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1 Spring School Psychologist RTI² Training Q &A Clarification on the use of the Gap Analysis Worksheet: As part of the RTI² decision making process, teams meet to review a student s rate of improvement to determine whether his/her progress is enough to close the achievement gap. This allows teams to decide whether the current intervention is effective or whether changes to the intervention are warranted. One tool that may be helpful in this process is the gap analysis worksheet. The gap analysis worksheet allows teams to establish how far the student is from reaching the benchmark expectation, how much progress is needed to reach the benchmark expectation, and/or how long it would take the student to meet the benchmark expectation given his/her current rate of improvement. This tool is meant to inform the decision making process but does not supersede professional judgment. For example, a student may begin Tier III below the 10 th percentile. The team may determine that the student is making adequate progress but because he/she began the intervention significantly below his/her peers, more time is needed with the current intervention in order to close the achievement gap. Therefore, Tier III interventions and progress monitoring would continue. If the student does not appear to be making adequate progress, however, the team may choose to conduct a gap analysis to compare the student s current rate of improvement to the amount of progress needed to close the achievement gap. This may inform the team s decision to make a referral for a special education evaluation. Although the use of the gap analysis worksheet is best practice throughout the RTI² decision making process, it is a required component of a special education evaluation. Q: Do special education teachers have to review data on identified students monthly? How does this affect the need for additional IEP meetings? A: Data teams should be meeting regularly (i.e. every 4.5 weeks) to review the progress of all students receiving intervention- whether intervention is being provided through general education or special education. If data indicates that an intervention is not effective, changes should be considered such as group size, intervention program, time of day, etc. Only if the proposed changes to intervention warrant a change to the student s IEP would an IEP meeting be necessary. Q: What if a child is referred for a possible Specific Learning Disability (SLD) and qualifies under the RTI framework, but is really Intellectually Disabled (ID) or Functionally Delayed (FD) because an IQ test was not given? Is it possible under the RTI framework to give a brief IQ to rule out FD or ID? A: An IQ test can be administered as part of a comprehensive evaluation at the discretion of the assessment team; however an IQ test is not required as part of the SLD criteria. Cognitive impairments can be ruled out by considering a student s performance in other academic areas, communication skills, and adaptive functioning.

2 Q: Does the RTI team make a referral without us (psychologists) or will we have a meeting to discuss the data and make the decision together? A: Referral procedures are an LEA decision; however assessment personnel should be consulted with and/or involved to the greatest extent possible. Q: Are we required as school psychologists to complete the fidelity checklists? A: This is an LEA decision; however fidelity checks should be completed by a multi-disciplinary team which may include administrators, instructional coaches, school psychologists, and/or school counselors. Q: Are the players pre-determined? Are these members of the S-Team? A: The members of the RTI team are determined at the school and/or district level. Recommendations for RTI team members are included in component 1.2 of the RTI² Implementation Guide, found here. Q: If a student moves from another county or state with progress monitoring but it is not AIMSWEB, where do we start? Pick up from where they left off w/aimsweb and continue from there? Start Over? A: Once a student enrolls, all assessment data should be reviewed and decisions made based on the information received. If the data received meets the rigorous guidelines outlined in the RTI² Framework, it can be used in the decision making process. Appropriate interventions and progress monitoring should commence as soon as possible in order to determine the student s continued intervention needs. Q: Once we get permission to do the achievement test, are we only allowed to assess areas that were progress monitored? For example, if a student is in intervention for math calculation, can we also look at reading? A: In order for a student to be considered eligible for a specific learning disability under the RTI² Framework, he/she must receive intervention and be progress monitored in his/her specific area of deficit. Therefore, a student may not receive intervention in math calculation and be found eligible as SLD in reading. The necessary components of a comprehensive evaluation are determined by the assessment team. Q: For students in the reevaluation process, if their rate of improvement is not reasonable, can the SPED student receive intervention above and beyond exceptional education services? A: Interventions for special education students are determined by the IEP team. Special education students should not be excluded from tiered interventions if the team determines this is appropriate. Q: To compare rate of improvement (ROI) to same age/grade peers, does this mean progress monitoring will be on grade level? A: Students should be progress monitored at their instructional level. When analyzing progress monitoring data by looking at the rate of improvement (ROI), the student s rate of improvement is

3 compared to the typical rate of improvement at the grade level in which they are being monitored. So if a student is being monitored at the third grade level, his/her rate of improvement would be compared to the typical rate of improvement at the 3 rd grade level. Q: What happens to students who do not qualify due to the exclusionary factors? A: A student is not a student with a disability if the primary reason for his/her underachievement or insufficient response to intervention is one of the exclusionary factors. If the primary reason for the student s underachievement or insufficient response to intervention is one of the exclusionary factors, those factors should be addressed appropriately as part of the student s intervention plan. For example, if it has been determined that the primary reason a student is not achieving is due to emotional concerns, he/she may receive counseling services while also continuing tiered interventions. Q: Has the state made a recommendation regarding what, if any, cognitive assessment will be done in the process? A: Appropriate assessments are determined by the assessment team; however a cognitive assessment is not required as part of an SLD evaluation. Q: Are identified students to be continually monitored? When the reevaluation date approaches, do we need to remind teachers that PM data is required for the reevaluation? Whose responsibility is it to make sure this is done? A: Students with disabilities who have academic goals and are receiving academic interventions should be progress monitored at least as frequently as their non-disabled peers. This information has been shared through ongoing trainings on Instructionally Appropriate IEPs within the Special Education Framework. Therefore, re-evaluation teams should have the necessary progress monitoring data to make informed re-evaluation decisions. As always, frequent communication is key to establishing that required components are completed. Q: If we no longer administer an IQ test to identify SLD, do we still need to measure IQ for Emotionally Disturbed and Other Health Impaired? My understanding is that we administer IQ for ED/OHI in order to help rule-out SLD. A: All other disability criteria remain the same. An IQ assessment is required for both Emotional Disturbance and Other Health Impaired to rule out other factors as the primary reason for the student s difficulties. Appropriate assessments are determined by the assessment teams; however an IQ test is not required for SLD evaluations. Q: Should vision and hearing screenings be passed before you being interventions? A: Best practice would be to rule out vision and hearing as early in the intervention process as possible.

4 Q: If RTI data indicates possible presence of a disability and we administer an achievement test that does not suggest the presence of a disability (i.e., average scores), what do we do? Is that child eligible for SLD? A: All assessment data must be considered when making an eligibility determination for SLD. If standardized achievement results are vastly different from universal screening and/or progress monitoring data, the team should consider whether the assessments are measuring the same construct. For example, if the universal screener and progress monitoring data is based on standards, a student may not demonstrate a skills deficit as measured by a standardized achievement test. If a student is performing below the 10 th percentile on a universal screener that is skills specific, the research tells us there is very high reliability with a standardized test that is skills specific. Likewise, care should be taken to select an appropriate achievement test that validly measures the suspected area of disability. If the team is unable to establish that the student has met condition one (underachievement), then the student is not eligible as SLD. Q: Where does special education fit into the tiers? A: Along a continuum, special education is considered the most intense intervention. When the IEP team is considering a student s least restrictive environment, the team needs to consider whether the student could benefit from general education (i.e. tiered) interventions or whether it has been determined that the student needs the most intensive intervention (i.e. special education intervention) in his/her area of deficit. So for example, if a student has been determined eligible as SLD and therefore in need of the most intense intervention, he/she would receive Tier I plus special education intervention. He/she would not receive tiered interventions. A student with OHI, however, might have goals and be receiving services for pre-vocational and/or social-emotional deficits but it could be determined that he/she will also participate in Tier II reading interventions. In this case, general education interventions might be noted under present levels but would not be included on the IEP. Q: What do you say to parents who want a concrete answer as to how many weeks of intervention are required before an eligibility decision can be determined? A: Eligibility for special education is a bi-product of an effective RTI framework- not the goal. The goal of RTI is for students to make progress and never need special education. Within an RTI framework, students receive intervention sooner rather than later. Therefore, it is important for parents to remain informed of their child s progress and intervention needs. A minimum of 8-10 data points are required to make an informed decision regarding the effectiveness of an intervention. Q: How do you address identifications other than SLD having SPED-based academic services, when they are receiving them possibly w/o going through the tier process? A: Special education services are an IEP team decision. IEP teams must, however, consider the student s least restrictive environment. Therefore, when determining appropriate services, the IEP team must consider whether the student needs the most intense intervention in an academic area (i.e. special

5 education) or whether the student s needs can be met in a less restrictive environment, such as through tiered interventions. Q: Does the normative assessment administered to determine Condition 1 (underachievement) have to consist of more than 1 subtest? For example, on the WIAT-III, the only subtest measuring math calculation is number operations. A: When analyzing scores from a norm-referenced achievement test, composite scores that include a sufficient number of items from more than one subtest should be used whenever possible. The score used to document underachievement must correspond to the area of suspected disability. Furthermore, this score should correspond to the deficit area identified through tiered interventions. For example, if a student was identified as needing phonics intervention, an achievement test to measure Basic Reading would be appropriate. Q: Do you always assume 36 weeks between Fall (BOY) and Spring (EOY) benchmarks to obtain the typical ROI, or do you calculate the weeks between when your district administers the fall and spring benchmarks? A: Many assessments actually provide the typical rate of improvement. Otherwise, 36 weeks is used in this calculation as it is the average timeframe nationally between the fall and spring benchmark periods. Q: If intervention is delivered via computer-based instruction, how do you meet the criteria of intervention being delivered by qualified and appropriately trained personnel? Is the assumption that it has already been vetted? A: The intervention must be over seen by highly trained personnel. A computer program may supplement interventions provided at Tier II and/or Tier III but should not be the sole intervention provided. Q: If you are completing a reevaluation, do you also have to complete the Assessment Documentation Form? A: The initial SLD assessment documentation form is to be used for initial identification for SLD. A comprehensive re-evaluation assessment documentation form is also provided for comprehensive reevaluations. An assessment documentation form is not required when a file review is conducted for the purpose of determining continued eligibility. These decisions are documented in the Re-evaluation Summary Report. Q: What if you have re-evaluations due in August/September 2014 and you do not have progress monitoring data points? A: The team will continue to provide special education interventions and begin collecting progress monitoring data as soon as possible. Once adequate data has been collected, the team will meet to determine continued eligibility.

6 Q: If a student moves straight to Tier III, do they need 5 fidelity checks, or do you have to complete 8 in order to meet the criteria by-passed in Tier II? A: The purpose of moving a student straight to Tier III is to increase the intensity of the intervention, not to reduce the duration of the intervention period. Therefore, the team will still need to establish that the student has been given adequate time to respond to the interventions provided at Tier III. The student should be given the same amount of time to respond to the intervention as a student who first received Tier II intervention. Therefore, the same minimum requirement applies for fidelity checks. A minimum of 8 checks should be conducted prior to making a data based decision to refer for an evaluation; however this is because this would be the minimum number of checks needed to establish that the intervention was implemented with fidelity. Yes, the number is important- but for the purpose of determining whether the intervention was implemented as it was intended. We must use the data from fidelity checks to improve the interventions. Ultimately, we should be looking at the data over time to see if programs are working or not. Q: Are there suggested timelines for when the fidelity checks should be completed (i.e., close in succession, evenly spaced)? A: There is not a suggested timeline; however fidelity checks should be conducted for the purpose of determining whether the intervention was conducted with fidelity. When conducting fidelity checks, focus on the information they provide - not just that they were done, but what did they tell you? If you have 8 checks but they were all done within a week, does this tell you about the intervention period as a whole? Focus on the information these checks provide. Q: Will the SLD assessment documentation form replace the written psychological report? A: Yes, the SLD assessment documentation form replaces the traditional psychological report for Specific Learning Disabilities only. Q: During LD evaluation, will an individual achievement test be required for a comprehension evaluation? A: Yes, in order to substantiate inadequate achievement, an individual, standardized, and normreferenced measure of academic achievement must be administered after initial consent is obtained in the area of suspected disability (i.e., Basic Reading Skills, Reading Fluency, Reading Comprehension, Written Expression, Mathematics Calculation, and Mathematics Problem Solving). Intensive intervention must occur within the tiers before inadequate classroom achievement can be assessed. The score from a standardized achievement test administered prior to receiving intensive intervention may not be used to determine inadequate classroom achievement. The team will select assessment instruments that are sensitive to floor effects and developmental levels, especially for students in the primary grades. Q: Can diagnosticians give the individual achievement test or only the school psychologist (the certifying specialist?) during the special education evaluation for LD?

7 A: Any professional qualified to conduct an individual achievement test may do so as part of the special education evaluation. Q: Do observations have to be on different days? A: There are no time requirements for when systematic observations are done. Best practice, however, would be to conduct these on different days in order to establish a pattern of strengths and weaknesses rather than behavior observed on a given day. Q: What if a student is currently in special education for reading, but now there are concerns for math? Will a new comprehensive evaluation need to be done (after tiers)? If so, will the student have two SLD eligibility categories (primary and secondary)? A: In this example, the student would receive tiered interventions in math. If the team determines that the student needs the most intense intervention for math (i.e. special education), a comprehensive reevaluation would be conducted to revise the primary disability (SLD) to include math. He/she would not have a secondary disability. Q: On re-evaluations of SLD, if only a reevaluation review is completed and we know the student continues to exhibit SLD, will we need to calculate the ROI and Gap analysis? If so, what if these aren t wide enough to document continued SLD? A: Yes, in order to determine whether a student continues to need the most intense intervention (i.e. special education), the team will review the student s progress monitoring data to include the rate of improvement (ROI) and a gap analysis. This will help inform the team of the student s continued intervention needs. It is a team decision whether the student continues to be eligible for the most intense intervention or whether the student s needs could be met with a less intense intervention (i.e. Tier II or Tier III intervention). Q: Is the Interventionist a necessary/legal team member now? What if there is no interventionist and the teacher delivers the intervention does she/he sign in both places on the assessment documentation form? A: An interventionist is not required; however if the student has been receiving intervention from an interventionist, it would be best practice to involve that person in the eligibility determination process. Otherwise, the general education teacher can sign as the general education teacher and the interventionist signature line can be left blank.

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