Before Special Education (page 2)
In actuality less than half of all children that experience reading difficulties will require special education services to correct their reading problems. Some children will experience troubles learning to read because of insufficient background knowledge and literacy experiences; inadequate reading practice; or a mismatch between their skill level and the curriculum in the classroom. Children who experience reading problems that are largely experiential in origin should not be classified as having a reading disability, and thus are not eligible for special education services.
So what can be done when a child experiences persistent problems learning to read? One step is to refer the child for formal diagnostic testing to evaluate whether he or she is eligible for special education services. Prior to referring a student for special education evaluation however, most schools activate a process commonly known as pre-referral intervention.
In pre-referral intervention, school teams are established to make suggestions about educational procedures and practices that can be implemented by teachers within regular education classrooms. If the teacher uses the suggested procedures and they are successful, the child does not need to be referred for special education or go through formal diagnostic testing.
Stage 1: Initial Concern
Teachers or other adults who work with very young children may develop some concerns about a child's abilities or progress in reading. Certain warning signs may signal a possible reading disability.
Stage 2: Information Gathering
Informal reading assessments are used to understand the nature, extent, and severity of the child's reading difficulties. It is important that the teacher assess or estimate the child's skill level in various component reading skills. This information will facilitate the discussion of possible intervention strategies and will help to clarify the kind and intensity of the classroom intervention implemented.
Stage 3: Information Sharing and Team Discussion
Team members understand that their purpose is to recommend and support effective interventions in general education and not to operate as a special education eligibility or placement team
Discussions always begin by listing the child's strengths
Target areas of concern are identified and prioritized
Stage 4: Discussion of Strategy Options
Stage 5: Implementation and Monitoring of Strategy
Stage 6: Evaluation and Decision Making
During this stage, the team comes back together to review information on the effectiveness of the strategy used. The team decides whether the strategy should be continued, modified, or whether based on the information that the child should go from pre-referral into formal referral for special education.
Adapted with permission from The IRIS Center for Faculty Enhancement’s Star Legacy Module: “See Jane Read: Teaching Reading to young children of varying disabilities – Resource – Pre-referral.
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Reprinted with the permission of the National Center for Learning Disabilities. © 1999-2009 National Center for Learning Disabilities, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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