Academic journal article The California School Psychologist

Using Curriculum-Derived Progress Monitoring Data as Part of a Response-to-Intervention Strategy: A Case Study

Academic journal article The California School Psychologist

Using Curriculum-Derived Progress Monitoring Data as Part of a Response-to-Intervention Strategy: A Case Study

Article excerpt

The revissa Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (2004) and subsequent Federal Regulations promote the use of alternative process of identifying students with specific learning disabilities based on how well a student responds to researched-based interventions. As these strategies are implemented, school psychologists have the opportunity to expand their roles and to assume leadership positions in implementing a response-to-intervention (RtI) model. A central element of all RtI approaches is the universal monitoring of students' academic progress. As part of a general effort to implement a data-driven system, multiple sources of information may be used. This article contributes to these efforts by presenting a case study demonstrating how a school psychologist took the first steps to implement a low-cost, continuous progress monitoring procedure in one urban school. This was accomplished by using data readily available at the school site (reading probes included with the district reading curriculum) to develop a systematic way to monitor progress by creating local school norms and using existing reading benchmarks.

Every year school psychologists in the U.S. conduct approximately 816,000 initial evaluations as part of the process to determine eligibility for special education for students suspected of having a specific learning disability (Federal Register, 2005). This would not be surprising to most school psychologists, because assessing students for special education is one of their primary job duties. School psychologists report that typically half of their day is spent on tasks related to individual assessment, such as administering intelligence tests (Reschly & Ysseldyke, 2002). For over 25 years, since the passage of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 (RL. 94-142), school psychologists have been key participants in the multidisciplinary teams that identify students with learning disabilities, primarily using a model based on finding a discrepancy between IQ and achievement (Fuchs, Mock, Morgan, & Young, 2003; Lyon et al., 2001; Vaughn & Fuchs, 2003). However, due to recent changes in federal law, school psychologists may no longer use as much of their time administering intelligence tests. On December 3, 2004 the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) was signed into law as Public Law 108-446. The new law allows alternative procedures for evaluating students suspected of having Specific Learning Disabilities. States are no longer required to use a discrepancy between intellectual abilities and achievement as part of the LD eligibility process. States now "...must permit a process that examines whether the child responds to scientific, research-based interventions as part of the evaluation procedures" (Federal Register, p. 35802).

This change in federal law was expected. For the past few years several influential groups such as the National Association of School Psychologists, the Office of Special Education Program in the U. S. Department of Education, and the National Center of Learning Disabilities have expressed concerns about the continued use of an IQ-Achievement discrepancy model for diagnosing learning disabilities, and instead have proposed a model that is known as response-to-intervention (RtI; Fuchs et al., 2003; Jimerson, Burns, & VanDerHeyden, in press; Lyon et al., 2001). With the recent release of the new Federal Regulations, school psychologists and other educators now await guidance from their educational agencies on the practical questions regarding how RtI will be implemented at state and local levels. Of added interest is how the implementation of RtI approaches will affect the future expectations and practices of school psychologists and the individual education assessment planning process. In looking at school districts that have been at the forefront of embracing RtI, some trends are emerging. In both the Iowa Heartland Area Education Agency and the Minneapolis Public Schools, the amount of time school psychologists spend assessing students for special education eligibility declined significantly, while the amount of time school psychologists spent in consultation increased dramatically (Shinn, 2002). …

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