RTI and Disproportionate Representation in Special Education

By Klotz, Mary Beth | National Association of School Psychologists. Communique, November 2008 | Go to article overview

RTI and Disproportionate Representation in Special Education


Klotz, Mary Beth, National Association of School Psychologists. Communique


The use of an RTI process is often described as having the potential benefit of reducing the disproportionate referral and placement of culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students in special education programs. The National Research Council on Minority Representation in Special Education (2002) recommends that schools do more (and do it earlier) to ensure that students receive quality general education services designed to reduce achievement and behavior problems and that insufficient response to high-quality interventions be integral to special education determinations. Recently a number of helpful articles, position statements, practice guides, and research have focused on the role of RTI in reducing disproportionate representation in special education. Several of these resources are highlighted below.

Evidence-based resourcesfor working with ELL students. The Doing What Works website from the U.S. Department of Education features practice guides and other resources for English language learners (ELLs). The newest practice guide, Teaching Literacy in English to K-$ English Learners, makes recommendations for ELL literacy instruction in the areas of assessment, instruction, academic English development, and cooperative learning. The materials on the website are research-based and developed by the Institute of Education Sciences. Read about the Doing What Works website and more than 30 websites that focus on multicultural issues on NASP' s Culturally Competent Practice webpage (www.nasponline.org/resources/cultural competenc e/web site.aspx) .

A Cultural, Linguistic, and Ecological Framework for Response to Intervention With English Language Learners. This 2008 practitioner brief from the National Center for Culturally Responsive Educational Systems (NCCRESt) provides a framework for the use of RTI that considers students' life experiences, including their language proficiencies in their first and second language, as well as the contexts in which they are taught. Important considerations for each tier of an RTI process are discussed including, for example, that instruction and interventions for ELLs should be both linguistically and culturally appropriate, and that progress monitoring should compare ELL students to their "true peers" (with similar language proficiencies, culture, and experiential background) to see if they are excelling or not. Tables summarizing student characteristics, guiding questions, instruction/intervention, service providers, and necessary service provider skills are provided for each tier. Download the brief at www.nccrest.org/Briefs/Frame work_for_RTI.pdf.

Using RTI to Address Disproportionate Representation. Janette Klinger of NCCRESt presented an overview of the challenges practitioners face as they implement RTI with CLD students at the December 2007 National RTI Summit. Important considerations and assumptions were examined such as what is needed for RTI to be effective, appropriate, and equitable for all students, including CLD students. …

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