Educational advocacy, learning disabilities advocacy     Internet Special Education Resources
Special Education & Learning Disabilities Resources: A Nationwide Directory


By Sharman Word Dennis, M.Ed., CEO of Global Enrichment Solutions

When a student is having trouble in school, the parents are often contacted and informed that the school wants the student to be evaluated to determine if the student is eligible for special education services. This may occur on the second day of school, during the second month of school, during the second semester, or before the end of the school year.

ATTENTION PARENTS: when this happens, contact the school and say "STOP!"

You should ask this question: What intervention strategies have been implemented prior to this request? Why is this question important? It is important because all public schools and public charter schools have a process in place to provide intervention in the general education classroom when a student is having difficulty academically and/or behaviorally. Strategies are developed with a team, which includes the parents. These strategies are monitored and assessed to determine the next steps to ensure the academic and behavioral success of the student.

This process or program is known by different names and/or acronyms throughout the country. Here are a few: in Washington, DC the process is known as the SST- Student Support Team; in Georgia - the SST- Student Support Team; in Montgomery County Public Schools, MD- CPS-Collaborative Problem Solving for Student Success; in Riverside County, CA -RTI-Response to Instruction; in San Francisco-SST-Student Success Team; in the New York State Education Department- SBIT-School Based Intervention Teams; in Rhode Island-CAP-Classroom Alternatives Process or CAST- Classroom Alternatives Support Team; in Pennsylvania- IST- Instructional Support Teams; in New Jersey DOE-I & RS- Intervention and Referral Services; Toledo, OH and Roseville Joint Union High School District, CA-IRT- Intervention Response Team and RTI- Response to Intervention in many other school districts.

This program or process, by whatever name or acronym, is NOT a PRE REFERRAL process. To indicate that it is a pre-referral process assumes a student will be eligible for special education services. As noted earlier, this process or program provides intervention in the general education classroom when a student is having difficulty academically and/or behaviorally. Parents become part of a team to develop strategies that are monitored and evaluated to ensure that a student has academic and behavioral success.

In MCPS, MD, for instance, the GUIDE TO PLANNING AND ASSESSING SCHOOL-BASED SPECIAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS asks the following reflective questions: What interventions did general education teachers try before the referral? Were these interventions evaluated? What data do we have on the effectiveness of the Collaborative Problem Solving process related to increasing achievement, reducing referrals to special education screening, and/or reducing problem behaviors?

In summary, this is the message to parents: "know your rights and the rights of your child." There is available assistance for your child from the minute he or she steps into the classroom, assistance that is to be provided in the general education classroom. As the parent you may have to remind the schools about this assistance! Sharman Word Dennis is an educational advocate and the CEO of Global Enrichment Solutions, LLC a company that provides advocacy, training, evaluations, therapeutic services and tutoring. Visit call 202-882-2533 or e-mail

Disclaimer: Internet Special Education Resources (ISER) provides this information in an effort to help parents find local special education professionals and resources. ISER does not recommend or endorse any particular special education referral source, special educational methodological bias, type of special education professional, or specific special education professional.


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