Identifying and Aiding Struggling Students
Identifying and Aiding Struggling Students
1. Identifying the Student
Signs of a struggling student (J. Brewer, personal interview, 2018)
inability to be self-sufficient in daily activities
difficulty following instructions
lack of social activity
continuous failure in school
Why some students aren't identified
Many parents fear the stigma they perceive to accompany their child being placed in special education classes. (National Center for Learning Disabilities, n.d.)
Students with a high aptitude for learning can also have disabilities. Because these students are not showing problems academically, the parents or teachers do not expect them to have a disability. (National Center for Learning Disabilities, n.d.)
failure to identify the signs
Often, the signs of a struggling student are misinterpreted as kids simply acting like kids. (National Center for Learning Disabilities, n.d.)
2. Response to Intervention (RTI)
Tiers of Intervention (Special Education Guide, n.d.)
These students have fallen at least a year behind their peers. While many of students in this category are in special education or have a learning disability, it is not a requirement for this level of intervention. About 5% of students are on this level.
These students have shown difficulty and qualify for intervention. About 15% of students are in this tier.
Students learning at grade level and are at the lowest risk of falling behind. About 80% of students fall into this category.
3. Referral for Special Education
The referral should include as many specific details about the child's suspected condition. If there are multiple, details of all the suspected conditions should be included.
4. Creating an IEP or 504 Plan
IEP or 504 Plan?
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is to ensure that any government-funded entity is obligated to provide accommodations to any disabled person to allow for equality to the non-disabled population (Lee, 2015).
A 504 Plan only grants services to provide an equal opportunity for learning to the disabled child, such as special seating. The student is still expected to complete the regular curriculum (Lee, 2015).
Under the Individuals with Disabilities Act, teachers are required to create an IEP for students who have one or more disabilities covered under the IDEA once it is confirmed by nondiscriminatory evaluation. The IEP outlines what special coursework or alterations will be added to the normal curriculum to aid the student's disability (Lee, 2015).
It is possible that a student could qualify for a 504 Plan and an IEP. The video to the left further describes the difference between a 504 Plan and an IEP.
If the evaluation determines that the child does in fact have a disability, the next step is to create an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or a 504 Plan.
National Center for Learning Disabilities. (n.d.). The State of LD: Identifying Struggling Students. Retrieved March 30, 2018, from
Lee, A. (Ed.). (2015). The Difference Between IEPs and 504 Plans. Retrieved March 30, 2018, from
Special Education Guide. (n.d.). Response To Intervention Explained. Retrieved March 30, 2018, from
Brewer, J. March 28, 2018. Personal interview.
Office of Superintendent Public Instruction. (2016, October 20). Making a Referral for Special Education. Retrieved March 30, 2018, from
The referral can be submitted by a teacher, school administrator, or parent. The referral must be in writing (Office of Superintendent Public Instruction, 2016).
The referral should be submitted to the special education director at the school and a faculty member involved in special education.
Once the referral has been submitted, the school has 25 school days to determine whether or not to evaluate the child. if they decide the child should be evaluated, they will have 35 days after receiving parental consent to evaluate the child (Office of Superintendent Public Instruction, 2016).
A child does not have to have a disability to qualify for intervention classes. These are simply the first step in helping students who are falling behind.
Intervention lessons are taught by a specialized teacher for a predetermined amount of time. The student is given the failed material again after the intervention. If the student has not improved, the teachers and parents will meet to determine if more intense intervention is needed or if the child needs to undergo evaluation for a learning disability (Special Education Guide, n.d.).
Difference Between 504 Plan and IEP