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The Response to Intervention (RTI) Process for 504’s and IEP’s

Posted on: September 26th, 2018 by

The Response to Intervention (RTI) Process for 504’s and IEP’s


The Response to Intervention (RTI) process is different from school to school, but one thing that doesn’t change are the rights of the student and the parent(s).

In public and charter schools, student rights for 504’s and IEP’s are protected by the Disability Act of 1973 (section 504) and the Office of Civil Rights (for IEP’s).  As a parent, you have the right to request a meeting with teachers and counselors to review your concerns. You even have the right to request testing in order to gain insight into your student’s abilities.



The RTI process is a set of educational standards put in place to help parents and education teams determine if a student needs extra support in the classroom. This process is intended to “level the playing field” for student’s who need extra supports like time, materials, and more. For example, a dyslexic or ADHD student may need to use audio or electronic books to read or use extra time on a test.

The school or the parent can initiate the RTI process. Often times, parents start this process when they are concerned about their student’s performance. If there is evidence of need, a parent can request a meeting with the school education team to review the student’s situation.  As a result, this can lead to a student evaluation.

Together, the RTI team and parent(s) determine what is best for the student.  This process involves collaboration, so keep a paper trail of communications to ensure proper follow through. Utilizing email is ideal because it timestamps and dates important exchanges. Timelines are important in this process because public schools have 30 days (from the time of your request) to hold a meeting, and a total of 60 days to complete the process of determining if a student is eligible for a 504 or an IEP.


Interventions and accommodations are extra effort for the school to put forth, so they want to make sure that it is necessary and appropriate to proceed with the RTI process.  Therefore, it is important to establish a body of evidence to prove the need for interventions and/or educational testing.

A body of evidence includes a variety of things. For example, evidence can include a diagnosis from a general practitioner or psychiatrist. Other forms of evidence can include a Neurological Psychological Evaluation from a psychologist or low grades and tests.  Additionally, school’s can provide educational testing as evidence.


The RTI process looks different from district to district and state to state; however, there are a few federal standards that must remain consistent across schools.  For example, there is a clear difference between a 504 and an IEP.

An Individual Education Plan (IEP) is a document that requires teachers to adhere to accommodations and/or  modifications. Click here to see a list of accommodations versus modifications.  Whereas, a 504 provides accommodations that become the student’s responsibility to advocate for they need to use them  These forms of support carry different weight in the classroom and are individualized based on the student’s needs.


Another standard in the RTI process involves educational testing. Educational testing is a very valuable tool that helps the RTI team determine the needs and capabilities of the student.

When necessary, school’s can provide free educational testing to determine if a student needs an IEP or a 504.  There is great diversity in educational testing that school’s provide, so there are no guarantees that they will provide comprehensive testing.  Another option, if you want a comprehensive and thorough analysis of your student’s abilities, is paying for educational testing from a psychologist. Educational tests require time and patience.

If your student is falling in the lower 20% of their class, trust your parental instincts and take a closer look at your child’s needs with the school.

Don’t be intimidated by schools.

You are an important part of your student’s educational team. Your observations and concerns matter. As a parent, create a list of concerns to talk about with your school and address each need. It is the school’s responsibility to listen to and appropriately respond to your concerns.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to your school counselor to connect and see how your school can help because Every Student Matters, Every Time.

If you want to learn more about your rights and your student’s rights for 504’s and IEP’s, watch our MyQuest Video (found on our homepage) called Become an Expert Parent Advocate in 504’s and IEP’s.  This video will walk you through the whole process.

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