Jay Greene is dubious about Response To Intervention — trying to educate children well so they’re not diagnosed as learning disabled — because he thinks schools have an incentive to put kids in special ed.
Essentially, RTI frees-up money to get schools to do what they presumably should have been doing already â€” providing well-designed instruction in the early grades. Unless we think that the main impediment to well-designed instruction was that schools lacked the funding to do it, diverting 15% of special education money to early-grade instruction will not get them to do anything significantly different from what they were already doing.
Schools say that special ed costs them money, but Greene argues that’s usually not true — unless they were planning to do nothing extra for low achievers who aren’t considered disabled.
“Some pretty solid research . . . says that early identification and prevention programs (esp. in reading) are better for kids who later end up getting labeled LD (learning disabled) than are years and years of SPED services,” writes Amber Winkler on Flypaper.
Update: Greene has more on special education here.