Referral Process

The first step that is taken when a student is having academic difficulties is the RTI process. RTI stands for “Response to Intervention” and the intent is to provide interventions that will help the student achieve success without entering special education.

The RTI team usually consists of the child’s teacher, an administrator, a special education teacher, other general education teachers, and teacher assistants. The general education teacher provides background information regarding the problem exhibited by the student and the team works together to develop possible solutions.

RTI provides three levels of intervention for students who are experiencing problems. Generally, the first level (sometimes referred to as Tier 1) is focused on utilizing high-quality general education instruction in the core curriculum with all students. The second level (or Tier 2) provides targeted group instruction or some form of group remediation to improve performance. If performance does not improve in the second level, then students are moved to the third level which consists of intensive, individualized interventions.


If the student continues to experience difficulty after individualized interventions in the general education classroom, the child may be referred for a special education evaluation. Referrals may be initiated by:

  • School personnel (including teachers, counselors, administrators, etc.);
  • Child’s parents or legal guardian;
  • Any other person involved in the education or care of the child.

The official referral begins the formal process of determining eligibility for special education services. Before any testing can begin, the school must obtain consent from the parent or legal guardian. If the team decides not to evaluate the student, then an appropriate response is made to the referring source. This response will state the reason and if any additional follow-up that will be necessary.