Sunday, February 26, 2012

RTI? Really?

Ok, so I recommend a student for testing from the public school system (I teach in a Catholic school) and they complete the testing (they had to because the parents wrote a letter so by law they are required to do at least this much).  We have a meeting and the test results show that the child has a deficit in working memory and processing speed.  Both of these scores, plus the fact that the child has extreme difficulty in the classroom, coupled with the fact that this child has had these same learning issues since preschool, should indicate to anyone with half a brain, that this child needs special services.  Now mind you, I have already been working with the child in the classroom, have made accomodations for him, work with him before school and the parents work with him at home.  He is still behind and having difficulty learning and achieving at the sixth grade level. 
So back to my original statement.  The child is tested and we meet to discuss eligibility.  The public school system decides that he doesn't qualify because we didn't complete all the RTI interventions they want completed.  It doesn't matter that all the research on working memory shows that the traditional RTI interventions don't work with children with working memory deficits, all they do is delay the services the child does need.  The public school system won't budge.

So the parents and I go back and do more research, all the while still helping this child who struggles in the classroom.  We go back for a second meeting and this is where it gets interesting.  Wait, let me first tell you what transpired in the weeks before this second meeting. 

The psychologist (who, by the way, acted very unprofessional during the initial meeting, leaving the room crying because she felt she was being "attacked,"  we were simply asking questions about the results.)  was supposed to get the results of the testing to the parents within 3 days of the meeting.  She also promised this mother that she would get a whole list of different interventions that we could do with the child to her and me so that we could try a different approach with the child.  Well, days turned into weeks and the mother received nothing.  The psychologist had forgotten to get the eligibility form signed at the meeting so she dropped it by the school and asked me to have the parents sign it and let her know when they did so she could pick it up.  This was 3 days after the meeting.  She could have dropped off the test results and the interventions at this time so I could deliver them to the parents, but she didn't.  Anyway, I let the mom know that I have this paper for her to sign and she decides that she will sign it when she receives the paperwork promised.  Seems fair to me.  So every few days I get an email from the psychologist asking if the paper has been signed.  I just respond no.  I did ask, after about 10 days, if she had the paperwork ready for the parents and she responded, "working on it."  So after 20 days, the mom has had enough.  She sends an email to the psychologist complaining that she has no results, no promised list of interventions, nothing.  She writes her email as a mom who is desperately trying to get help for her child.  The psychologist calls her, angry and yelling so the mom tells her that they are both angry and they won't get anywhere this way so she is going to hang up.  Which she does.  The psychologist calls back!  The mom doesn't answer because she knows this will go nowhere.  So the psychologist calls the husband at work and cries to him (yes, literally cries) that his wife yelled at him, etc. etc. etc.  Now you tell me, what professional does this????  Who pits a husband against a wife???? 

Ok, so now onto the second meeting.  Only the head of the special education services comes to the meeting.  The parents and I have done our research and come prepared to this meeting.  The mom has her information all typed out, with documents marked and attached, to contest the eligibility decision.  She gives us all a copy and the public school man doesn't even look at it.  The mom starts to go through everything step by step and he just nods and smiles.  Adding a few things here and there.  Finally, when the mom is so frustrated that nothing is happening, no discussion, nothing, she pleads, with tears in her eyes, and says to the guy, how would you feel if this were you son or grandson, wouldn't you want help for them.  This man from the public school YELLS  at this poor woman.  Tells her she has crossed the line and how dare she do that and that her email to the psychologist had crossed the line and that the psychologist is trying to have a baby and is having difficulty and how dare she make this personal. 

Are you shocked now???  Of course this is personal, it is about the mother's child.  All she wants is help.  She didn't say anything wrong, she was pleading with this man to give her child the help he needs.  He had no right to act the way he did and neither did the psychologist.  But they turned it around on this mother and left the meeting making her feel defeated, with nowhere to turn.  This is what we deal with every time we try to get help for our kids.  The same kids whose parents pay taxes to the public school system yet don't tax the system by putting their kids in the schools.  Why can't they get the services they need???

I have asked teachers in different public school systems how they feel about this whole RTI policy now mandated by our state and they all respond that they think all it does is delay the services for the children who really need them.  Sure it helps some, but those who need special services just have to run through a maze for a year or longer before they really get the help they need.  Why is this allowed to happen??? 

How do the rest of you feel about RTI?  Do you think it truly benefits the students or is it just a way for the states to save some money but keeping kids out of special ed.????

And anyone out there from a private school, how does your public school system deal with the kids you refer for services??  Can anyone relate to my nightmare?????


  1. What a mess! I personally find RTI to be BS!!!!
    Every teacher's instruction already has RTI embedded in it through differentiated instruction. I think it's more red tape than necessary and truly delays the services these kids so desperately need.

    ❤ Mor Zrihen from...
    A Teacher's Treasure
    Teaching Treasures Shop

  2. Mor is so right! As professionals, we know how to do RTI! We have usually tried everything anyone could think of before anyone gives us an "opportunity" for their meeting (where the teacher is always more knowledgeable about the child than anyone else!)

    All of this crazy bureaucracy does so little to help KIDS!

    I'm glad someone is trying to support the student and the family. Good for you for being an advocate!

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

    1. I am so glad to hear that I am not alone with my feelings of disgust toward this RTI crap! Thanks for listening.