Monthly Archives: June 2010

5. Educational Speech Pathology

We have identified a hybrid model of school speech pathology assessment, where clinical and educational criteria are combined for judgments about special education eligibility.  It applies to the emergent population called “struggling children.”  Such children show academic delay but are not placed in special education.  Programs like Response to Intervention grade learning remediation to prevent placement in special education.  SLPs are put in the position of assessing  a broader range of speech,  language and learning skills.  For example, “poor children” is not a clinical population but poor children can be different in communication development.

We have already pointed out an array of labels applied to “struggling children.”

“diverse learners
struggling students
at risk
special needs
special education
culturally and linguistically different
handicapped (historic)
slow learners (historic)
English language learners


lazy (historic)”


15. RTI Success

The State of Minnesota has reported in 2010 on efforts to save money while reducing the drain from special education placements, particularly in the category of learning disability.  Improving reading is one key to preventing over-identification.  Success was recorded in the St. Croix River Education Districts:

 “Since the St. Croix River Education Districts (SCRED) have been using the Response to Intervention model for more than a decade, it is possible to evaluate results. The record shows that from 1996 to 2003 classifications for “learning disability” dropped from 4.2 percent to 4.1 percent for all Minnesota children. In the SCRED districts the percentage went from 4.4 to 2.5 amid general agreement that Response to Intervention spelled the difference. That is a 43 percent reduction in identifying children as special education.”

4. Educational Speech Pathology

In prior posts, we described a hybrid model of school assessment, derived from both medical and educational criteria.  “Assessment based on the traditional medical model brings forth a rich history of research and best practice. Assessment based on an academic performance brings forth the learning implications. A hybrid assessment model creates a valid framework for disability assessment in schools for the prevention of over-identification” (cf. SLI Definition for Eligibility).

Assessment should change to reflect the hybrid perspective.  One must consider the population of “struggling children” which includes both disabled and non-disabled children. The first aim is to sort out children who should not be placed in special education. The second is to support general education remedial services associated with RTI tiers, especially Tier 3.

For RTI, “dynamic assessment” comes into play, determining special education status through repeated measures of performance.  This procedure lessens dependency on “one-shot” assessments made with norm-referenced tests.  “Dynamic asssesment is an interactive approach to conducting assessments within the domains of psychology, speech/language pathology, or education, that focuses on the ability of learner to respond to intervention. Dynamic assessment is not a single package or procedure, but is both a model and philosophy of conducting assessments” (Peabody, 2010). 

Classroom evaluations can take on greater importance. 

For RTI, collaborative assessment is more likely.

Assessing phonology with respect to language and reading is a new direction.  RTI has a reading focus in most schools.

Prevention is more critical to hybrid approaches.  It starts with the question, “How do I evaluate speech, language, and literacy needs within a collaborative framework to keep children out of special education?”

14. RTI Success

Commercial organizations originating RTI solutions are widespread.  Here is a profile for Spectrum K12 Solutions:

“Spectrum K12 partners with educators and administrators who strive to Move Every Child Forward®. Working collaboratively with districts of all sizes, we deliver a Student Achievement Management solution suite that manages, administers and prescribes the personalized learning process and data required for all students: in general, compensatory, gifted or special education; pre-K through graduation and beyond. Spectrum K12 is the market leader in providing Student Achievement Management, Response to Intervention (RTI) and Special Education software solutions, serving 11% of the U.S. K12 student population including 20 of the top 100 school districts in the United States. Our award-winning software has driven personalized learning to over 5 million students in 29 states. For more information visit”