The Pre-Referral Process: Procedures for Supporting Students with Academic and Behavioral Concerns
The pre-referral process is a team-based, largely preventative approach used by schools to assist classroom teachers in implementing interventions among students with academic or behavioral problems. It is not intended as a step toward the placement of students into special education, though for some students the pre-referral process may indeed lead to a formal referral for special education services.
Listen to Don Compton, a professor at Florida State University, as he briefly overviews each of the pre-referral process’s six stages (time: 3:30).
There’s six stages in the pre-referral process. This process is a linear process, and all stages must be done in order.
Stage 1 : Initial concern regarding a child’s reading progress In the first stage of the pre-referral process, initial concerns regarding the child’s reading progress are voiced by someone. There are multiple people who can start this process. It can start through the classroom teacher. It could start through a reading specialist. It could be started by a parent or an administrator. This initial process is usually brought to the classroom teacher’s attention who then starts the process.
Stage 2 : Information gathering After the pre-referral process has been started, the next stage is stage two, which is called information gathering. At that point various pieces of information are collected on the child. These can include things such as a review of school records, previous standardized and informal test scores, attendance records, disciplinary action, school screenings, information gathered from the child’s previous teacher, information from conversations with parents, interviews with the child, example of a child’s classroom work, behavioral observations in multiple settings, list of previous interventions that have been tried, and results of informal reading inventories.
Stage 3 : Information sharing and team discussion After information has been gathered, the next step is information sharing and a team discussion. The pre-referral team generally consists of the general education teacher, a school psychologist or educational assessor, school counselor, reading specialist, grade level or cluster teacher, health professional, and the parent. During team information sharing, all information is discussed by the team and decision making during pre-referral team meetings follow a general set of guide lines that help structure the session and allow multiple perspectives to be presented. Team members understand that their purpose is to recommend and support effective interventions in general education. Discussion is always begun with the listing of the child’s strengths, targets of concern are identified and prioritized, brainstorming is used to generate and then select intervention for each area of concern, and the intensity and duration of the intervention is agreed upon. In addition a monitoring system that assesses progress over time is developed. Finally, a person responsible for implementation and monitoring of the intervention is selected.
Stage 4 : Discussion of strategy options Stage four is known as the discussion of strategies option stage. During this stage, brainstorming is used by the pre-referral team to generate and then select interventions for each area of concern. These interventions may include the following: modifications in the classroom environment, modifying classroom management procedures, modifications in instructional procedures, or curriculum modifications.
Stage 5 : Implementation and monitoring of strategy During this stage, the intensity and duration of the intervention is agreed upon by the pre-referral team. In addition, a monitoring system that assesses progress over time is developed. Finally, a person responsible for the implementation and monitoring of the intervention is selected.
Stage 6: Evaluation and decision-making The final stage is stage six, the evaluation and decision making stage. At this point, the pre-referral team comes back together to review information on the effectiveness of the strategy employed. The team decides whether the strategy should be continued, modified, or whether based on the information that the child should go from pre-referral into formal referral for special education.
(Close this panel)
Revisiting Initial Thoughts
Think back to your responses to the Initial Thoughts questions at the beginning of this module. After working through the Perspectives & Resources, do you still agree with those responses? If not, what aspects about them would you change?
What is the pre-referral process?
What are the stages of the pre-referral process and what do they involve?
When you are ready, proceed to the Assessment section.