The Legal Basis of Response to Intervention: Analysis and Implications

Document Type


Publication Date



Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education


The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) of 2004 makes significant and controversial changes to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Two very significant changes in this law are provisions that (a) allow school districts to spend up to 15% of their IDEA Part B funds on early intervening services in general education settings and (b) prohibit states from requiring that school districts use discrepancy formulas to determine if students are eligible for special education services in the category of learning disabilities. Additionally, Congress recommended that school districts use a response to intervention procedure in both early intervening services and for the identification of students with learning disabilities. In this article we first describe two significant reports that recommended that Congress abandon the current eligibility system in special education for students with high-incidence disabilities. Second we explain how Congress and the U.S. Department of Education changed the special education eligibility system for learning disabilities in the IDEIA and the regulations that implemented the IDEIA. Third we review due process hearings and court cases that have addressed response to intervention. Fourth we offer recommendations to teachers, administrators, and teacher trainers to ensure that they meet the letter and spirit of these new requirements of the IDEIA.

Publication Title






First Page


Last Page