Response to intervention and the impact on eligibility for special education services in Texas
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The purpose of this study was to examine trends in special education referrals brought about by Response to Intervention (RTI) and to explore how those trends compared with the self-reported data of special education directors and evaluation staff. The significant points reflected in the literature to support this research include legislative changes, RTI structures and responsibilities, and RTI and special education referral rates across various studies. A descriptive non-experimental design study using existing data and survey methods was used. A validated paper and pencil survey was utilized for this study, administered to a group of special education directors and special education evaluation staff within a Regional Education Service Center (ESC), as well as the special education director and special education evaluation staff of an independent school district (I.S.D.). A response rate of 96% was obtained from the survey administered at the ESC. A response rate of 100% was obtained from the survey administered at the school district. The Friedman Two-Way rank was used to measure trends in data from 2007 to 2011. A t- test examined group differences on the RTI Process survey. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize data findings. Findings from the archival data demonstrated that during the period ranging from 2007 to 2011, trends at the state level, across regional services centers, and in one independent school district showed an increase in the number of students who were referred and found eligible for special education services. However, there was an average decrease in the number of students being served by special education at the regional and state levels and an increase at the district level. The trends that evolved suggest a possible relationship between the RTI process and increasingly accurate referrals for special education services. Findings from the survey administered at the Education Service Center (ESC) indicated the perceptions of special education directors and evaluation staff did mirror the findings of the archival data. However, data gathered from the survey administered at the Independent School District (ISD) indicated the perceptions of the special education director and evaluation staff did mirror the findings of actual archival data. Implications and recommendations are discussed.