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Abstract/ Summary

As a response to the 2004 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) federal statute, Maine enacted a rule requiring all schools to provide additional support to students who are not on track for meeting state learning standards beginning in 2012. One intent of the requirement was to improve student achievement, and another was to reduce the number of children who are identified as having special educational needs and thus require an Individualized Education Plan. Recent policy discussions, including the 2018 report of the Task Force to Identify Special Education Cost Drivers and Innovative Approaches to Services, have raised the question of how well schools implementing Response to Intervention (RTI) programs. The study found that most schools (83%) are using a universal screening assessment to identify students who need academic support. Elementary and middle schools are more likely to administer universal screening (92% and 85% respectively) than high schools (59%). A number of practitioners in schools without RTI programs or universal screening processes reported that classroom teachers were uncomfortable with providing behavior supports and escalated problems to special education staff before first trying general classroom strategies. This suggests that many classroom teachers would benefit from additional training and practice with evidence-based behavior strategies, and that this may also lessen the workload for special education teachers. The authors concluded that RTI academic and behavioral support programs are well on their way to being embedded in Maine schools, and practitioners cited numerous positive initial impacts on students and teachers. However, additional support is needed for all Maine districts to improve their programs and thus be able to offer supportive opportunities to their students.


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