The NEED for a Crosswalk from RtI to 504 and/or Special Education

Colleagues and Friends, In Clay County, we are raised to help others as much as we would help ourselves; and this volunteer spirit of love is certainly evident within Clay County Schools! Each teacher loves his or her students and wants the best for them, but figuring out what is needed for each student to optimize his or her potential is daunting at best. That is precisely why all support services are given full consideration, and teachers take self out of the equation when considering their options. In order to ensure that one opinion doesn't decide the fate of one student, Alabama adopted a process entitled Response to Instruction (RtI), which allows for the appointment of a Problem Solving Team (PST), which meets periodically to determine the successes of academic Tier 1 instruction, which is often seen as the most important tier of RtI because it is composed of regular classroom instruction. However, because Tier 1 instruction only typically reaches 10-20% of the class, teachers on the PST also consider what the regular classroom teacher has done within his or her classroom to support authentic Tier 2 instruction, which may include reteaching the entire class or certain portions or may involve a completely different approach to the content. Within Tier 2 instruction, which should occur outside of the regular classroom in only rare occasions, 90% of the students within the classroom come to fully understand the classroom content. Therefore, one can see that Tier 2 instruction is where the most importance should be placed, and the PST gives careful consideration to what could help that teacher of the student in question during the PST meeting to enrich this student and perhaps others.
However, the remaining 10% of students still require help so the PST will consider Tier 3 interventions, which are supported through pullouts from the classroom. These pullouts could come in the form of research-based program interventions in the form of one-to-one help or computer assistance. Regardless, the plan is individualized to the needs of the student so that he or she can optimize his or her potential. RtI also applies the same tiered format to behavior interventions. Since education is composed of one's academic, social, and emotional learning, the school is bound to address all of these areas because all lead to growth an all can significantly impact that growth. Eligibility for and services under Section 504 of the Americans with Disabilities Act factor into the PST's decision when it becomes evident either through parent or staff notification that the student has a disability that affects a major life activity, such as ADHD, orthopedic issues, other medical issues, etc. that can be handled with accommodations that don't require specially designed instruction. Students eligible for 504 are serviced through plans that are enacted in the regular education environment with the school staff providing services based on the individual student's needs.
Students who are unable to access their educational curriculum even with the implementation of Tiers 1, 2, and 3 may need specially designed instruction. In order to receive specially designed instruction, a student must be unable through the supports given to achieve minimal progress. Such students may show deficits because of academic or behavioral disabilities, but they must be referred to special education and found eligible in accordance with Alabama Administrative Code (AAC), which is based upon the regulations set forth in Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). As with students served under 504, the purpose of the individualized education plan (IEP) is to help the student access curriculum so that he or she can achieve optimal benefits form his or her education. Regardless of the method employed, please know that Clay County Schools is working diligently to ensure that our students are well educated. We are of an understanding that our students are our future, and we want a bright one!