What is the pre-referral process?
Page 1: Overview of the Pre-Referral Process
The private school where Ms. Delatorre previously worked had no formal process in place for dealing with challenging students. Teachers either communicated informally (e.g., in the teacher lounge) or formally (e.g., during a scheduled meeting) with one another or with other professionals. Now Ms. Delatorre is eager to learn more about the pre-referral process that Mr. Young, the school counselor, mentioned during her interview.
At their next meeting, Mr. Young begins with a brief overview of the pre-referral process, a preventative measure that can help to eliminate inappropriate referrals to special education. He explains that pre-referral supports general education teachers when they have students who exhibit academic or behavioral problems. Mr. Young further describes the pre-referral process as a:
- Consultative approach – pre-referral team members make suggestions based on their area of expertise about educational procedures and practices that teachers can implement within the general education classroom.
- Collaborative approach – members of the pre-referral team (e.g., parents, other teachers) assist classroom teachers with instructional support.
- Linear approach – pre-referral team members implement the stages of the process sequentially (e.g., gathering information, implementing intervention, evaluating intervention).
Teachers should not think of the pre-referral process simply as a hurdle to clear before referring a student to special education. Rather, teachers should use the pre-referral process to develop effective strategies to improve the academic and behavioral outcomes for their students, thus helping them to become more successful.
For Your Information
Although many schools continue to use the pre-referral process, more and more are shifting to the RTI approach to identify students with learning disabilities. As of now, RTI is implemented mostly in the primary grades; however, its use is expanding and it appears that an increasing number of middle and high schools will also eventually shift to implementing RTI.
For more information on the response to intervention approach please visit the IRIS Module: