Intervention and Referral Services (I&RS)

What are Intervention and Referral Services? 

Intervention and Referral Services (I&RS) are the primary way in which general education teachers or specialists can assist a student who is at risk for school problems within the general education environment.  I&RS programs are not intended to replace traditional methods or resources for helping students to function effectively in school.  Rather, they exist to focus on particular student problems using available resources within the general education environment.

The purposes of the I&RS are: to identify students in need and then plan and provide appropriate interventions for those students within the general education setting; to identify the responsibilities of building staff who participate in the planning and provision of intervention and referral services; to actively involve parents/guardians in the development and implementation of I&RS plans; to review and assess the effectiveness of the services provided in achieving the outcomes identified in the intervention and referral plan; to provide professional development to general education staff members who either refer students to I&RS or who assist in providing the intervention and referral services; and to coordinate the services of community-based social and health agencies.

The I&RS team is one of many resources used by schools to intervene with student problems, prior to Child study Team (CST) evaluation.

What is the I&RS Process? 

The Intervention and Referral Services process is a collaborative school effort between district personnel and parents to intervene when a student has been identified as making minimal academic, social, and/or emotional progress in the general education setting.  The team collects and evaluates relevant data in order to identify specific barriers to student performance.  Once these barriers have been determined, individualized interventions are identified and implemented through an action plan in order to address areas of concern.  Intervention may include the use of the Response to Intervention (RTI) model.  In general, RTI is based upon three components: 

  1. the use of multiple tiers of increasingly intense interventions;  
  2. a problem-solving approach to identifying and evaluating instructional strategies; and 
  3. an integrated data collection and assessment system to monitor student progress and guide decision-making.  Student monitoring continues throughout this process by the identified individuals in the action plan and adjustments are made to the plan as needed.

Steps in the I&RS process are: 

  1. Request for Assistance
  2. Information Collection
  3. Parent/Guardian Notification and Participation
  4. Problem Solving
  5. Development of I&RS Action Plan
  6. Support, Monitoring, and Continuation of Process
  7. Problem Resolved or Referral to Child Study Team

If the I&RS process exhausts all of the available school-based general education interventions with minimal success, the student may be referred to the Child Study Team for a comprehensive evaluation in order to gather additional information and to determine if the student is eligible for special education and related services.  The recommendation for a Child Study Team evaluation can come directly from the I&RS team or from a parent/guardian at any time during the process.

What is Intervention?

Intervention refers to efforts by school personnel to study and creatively problem solve educational issues that place a student at risk for school failure.  Using a team approach that encourages parental involvement, school personnel carefully consider the needs of students who are “at risk” for learning, behavior, and health problems and implement strategies to address areas of concern.

Intervention is a process whereby plans are revisited and modified. A successful intervention plan, developed and shaped over time, can be a powerful method to support an at-risk student.  If successful, it is preferable to special education referral which requires a student to undergo evaluation and have an identified disability.

At times, intervention is not successful and a referral for special education is necessary.  However, the prior period of I&RS intervention is valuable, as it demonstrates that a referral is appropriate and informs the IEP team about strategies that have or have not produced success when and if it becomes necessary to develop an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).