Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) / Response to Intervention (RTI) Process Cannot Be Used to Delay/Deny an Initial Evaluation

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 14, 2023) — OSERS’ Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) emailed copies of two memoranda to IDEA Part B Directors and Section 619 Coordinators regarding the child find requirements in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). OSEP took this action in response to constituents’ concerns that initial evaluations to determine whether a child has a disability have sometimes been delayed or denied by local educational agencies (LEAs) until a child goes through a state’s multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) process, sometimes referred to as Response to Intervention (RTI).

OSEP reminds state educational agencies and LEAs that the Part B regulations allow a parent to request an initial evaluation at any time to determine if a child is a child with a disability under IDEA. As OSEP Memorandum 11-07 states, MTSS/RTI may not be used to delay or deny a full and individual evaluation for a child suspected of having a disability. With respect to preschool children, IDEA does not require or encourage a local or preschool program to use a MTSS approach prior to referral for evaluation or as part of determining whether a three-, four-, or five-year-old is eligible for special education and related services. Once an LEA receives a referral from a preschool program, the LEA must initiate an evaluation process to determine if the child is a child with a disability.

The two relevant OSEP memorandum can be found below:

Severe Discrepancy, Screening
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Last modified on May 26, 2023