Addressing Student Behavior
Why include behavior as an element in an RtI framework? Many students who demonstrate problematic behavior also experience academic challenges. And, students who struggle academically may eventually demonstrate social, emotional, and interpersonal difficulties in efforts to avoid frustrating academic tasks (acting out, school-phobia, truancy, drop-out, bullying, and drug use to name a few). In addition, students whose behavior disrupts a class keep the teacher from teaching and other students from learning, causing a loss instructional time and quality. For those reasons, it is essential that both academic and behavioral systems be addressed in a concerted effort in all three tiers. For students receiving Tier 2 and Tier 3 services, the guidance below is essential.
Section 504 is federal civil rights law under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) administers Section 504—not the State. Section 504 is the other service option available to students with disabilities, but who are not eligible and/or already receiving special education services under the eligibility requirements of the IDEA (Tier 3). It is designed to provide equal access and fairness in general education to students with disabilities, thereby leveling the playing field for them. Under New Mexico’s three-tier model of student intervention, a Section 504 Plan is a Tier 2 service and/or support. Please click on the links below to see guidance and resources.
- Guidelines for Educators and Administrators to Implement Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (May 2010)
A comprehensive guide for services and/or accommodations to students with disabilities who do not qualify for special education
Gifted Education in New Mexico
In New Mexico, students who are determined to be gifted are considered “exceptional.” So, they are served through applicable state rules for special education (Tier 3). The technical assistance manual shown below explains how those rules are implemented for students who are gifted. In addition, the Standards for Gifted Education produced by the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) in are reprinted in the manual to support the information in each chapter.
RtI Framework and Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD)
Local school districts may choose to use a process of assessing how a student responds to interventions at Tier 1 and Tier 2 as one of a variety of measures used in determining SLD eligibility.
The use of RtI in determining SLD eligibility was included in the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 2004 due to concerns with models of identification of SLD that use only IQ tests.
This represents a departure from former identification methods where a student was identified as SLD based on a test that measured IQ and compared it to actual performance. The more severe the discrepancy between these two measures, the more likely it is that a student is learning disabled. Under the state’s dual discrepancy model, a K–3 student suspected of having a learning disability might, at the evaluator’s discretion, still be given the standard IQ/performance test as part of a comprehensive evaluation. However, the student’s progress monitoring data from Tier 1 and 2 interventions that establish a dual discrepancy (meaning low or large differences in achievement scores as compared to grade-level peers and a learning rate substantially below grade-level peers) are also incorporated into the evaluation and eligibility determination.
It is thought that the dual discrepancy model will give educators a broader view of how the student learns compared to the snapshot obtained from utilizing a single discrepancy model. One advantage is that the progress monitoring utilized in the RtI framework yields data directly relevant to instructional design and delivery. In this way, educators can better plan an effective program to meet the specialized needs of a student with disabilities, or distinguish a student who truly has a learning disability from one whose learning difficulties could be resolved with scientifically-based, general education interventions.
New Mexico Criteria for Identifying Students with Perceived Learning Disabilities: Subsection C of 188.8.131.52 NMAC
In an effort to make decisions that are founded in current research, provide early intervention services, increase the capacity of general education to meet student needs, and limit the number of inappropriate referrals for special education services, the NMPED enacted a state rule that requires the use of the dual discrepancy model for making SLD determinations. The rule provides a basis for the analysis of data generated by the intervention and progress monitoring process in Tiers 1 and 2 for SLD identification purposes. The rule provides that all public schools in New Mexico must use the dual discrepancy identification model for students as SLD in grades K–3 effective July 1, 2009.
- For the notification memo from the NMPED, see the New Mexico Technical Evaluation and Assessment Manual: Determining Eligibility for IDEA Part B Special Education Services.
- For state guidance about making LD determinations using data from the RtI framework process, please see the New Mexico Technical Evaluation and Assessment Manual, pages 114–120.
- For further information, please contact the NMPED’s Special Education Bureau at (505) 827-1457.
Additional information regarding the use of data from progress monitoring under and RtI framework in determining LD eligibility is available in a question and answer format from the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). Click on the link for Identification of Learning Disabilities. It is important to remember when reviewing national level information, that each state has its own RtI framework, so information and terminology needs to be considered in light of the construct of New Mexico’s RtI state rule, guidance, and framework.
- The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Program’s website features a toolkit for teaching and assessing students with disabilities. See Responsiveness to Intervention in the SLD Determination Process for a conceptual overview — including hypothetical examples of how an RtI framework might operate within a school setting and for a particular student — and to examine its role within the larger context of specific learning disabilities (SLD) determination.
- A variety of research articles and resources about using progress monitoring data for SLD determinations is available from the National Center for RtI’s Resources page.