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2.0 Referral Standards


Quick Links:Length of Time for Pre-referral Interventions Procedures for Receiving Referrals Student Support Teams
 Infant and Toddler Referral   Limited English Speaking Families Response to Intervention

 Referral is a formal, ongoing process for reviewing information related to learners who possibly have disabilities and show potential signs of needing special education services. The referral process includes district review of screening and other information on referred students, and the district's decision about whether to conduct a formal special education evaluation.

Required Policies & Procedures

Specific policies, procedures and other documentation to demonstrate compliance will be found on each of the fourteen district's policy web page.


2.0 Referral Standards


2.1 Evaluation Determination Upon Referral


2.01.01 Documentation of  Interventions

Legel Citation

Before a student is referred for a special education assessment, the district must conduct and document at least two instructional strategies, alternatives, or interventions while the pupil is in the regular classroom. The student’s teacher must provide the documentation. A special education assessment team may waive this requirement when they determine the student’s need for the assessment is urgent. This section may not be used to deny a student’s right to a special education assessment.

MN. Statute 125A.56(a)

Once the presenting problem is identified by general education staff, it is necessary to conduct pre-referral interventions.  Pre-referral interventions are planned, systematic efforts by the problem solving team to resolve apparent learning or behavioral problems. The design and outcome of these interventions must be documented. Several intervention forms are available for district use.

Prior to or as a part of the intervention process, the student's classroom teacher has the responsibility of informing the parent of the concerns and give the parent an opportunity to share information that may have bearing on the student's problems.  It is conceivable that the teacher may gain insight from parents that makes it no longer necessary to refer the student.  It is critical that parents are involved early in the process so that trust with the staff and school district is developed and nurtured.


Response to Intervention

Response to Intervention (RtI) is a framework that is used to improve outcomes for all students. RtI helps to ensure the provision of high-quality instruction and interventions that are matched to the needs of students requiring additional academic and behavioral supports. After initial screening of all students, changes in instruction or goals can be made according to the level of student need. Student progress is monitored frequently and instruction is then differentiated and modified, as necessary (adapted from NASDSE, 2005).


The RtI framework can be used to focus on the needs of the whole child. RtI is a framework that is applicable to all students--those of average or accelerated abilities as well as with struggling students. RtI has the potential to bring measurably improved student performance in many areas. Response to Intervention incorporates many of the common principles of effective practice and provides a common language for us to use with districts as we develop this integrated education process.


Minnesota Rule 3525.1341 allows qualifying students as in need of special education and related services for a specific learning disability when the student demonstrate an inadequate rate of progress as measured over time through progress monitoring while using intensive Scientific Research Based Intervention (SRBI). In addition to meeting sections A and B of the SLD criteria, the student must meet section D as follows:


The child demonstrates an inadequate rate of progress. Rate of progress is measured over time through progress monitoring while using intensive SRBI, which may be used prior to a referral, or as part of an evaluation for special education. A minimum of 12 data points are required from a consistent intervention implemented over at least seven school weeks in order to establish the rate of progress. Rate of progress is inadequate when the child's:


  1. rate of improvement is minimal and continued intervention will not likely result in reaching age or state-approved grade-level standards;

  2. progress will likely not be maintained when instructional supports are removed;

  3. level of achievement is at or below the fifth percentile on one or more valid and reliable achievement tests using either state or national comparisons. Local comparison data that is valid and reliable may be used in addition to either state or national data. If local comparison data is used and differs from either state or national data, the group must provide a rationale to explain the difference.


Each district must implement a process of progress monitoring. At this point only the Plummer School District has implemented an SRBI process for SLD eligibility purposes. All other ASEC districts do not use SRBI but rather the discrepancy model for SLD eligibility.


2.01.02 Alternative Intervention Services

Legel Citation

A school district shall use alternative intervention services, including the assurance of mastery program under section 124D.66, the supplemental early education program under section 124D.081, or an early intervening services program under subdivision 2 to serve at-risk pupils who demonstrate a need for alternative instructional strategies or interventions.

Early intervening services program.

Early intervening services are not the same thing as early intervention. Early intervention services are for infants and toddlers with disabilities; early intervening services (EIS) are for catching problems early in school-aged children. EIS are aimed at grades K-12, with an emphasis on K-3. This process is about identifying children who are struggling to learn, especially apparent in the early grades, and quickly intervening to provide support.

 A district may meet the requirement
under subdivision 1 by establishing an early intervening services program that includes:
    (1) a system of valid and reliable general outcome measures aligned to state academic standards that is administered at least three times per year to pupils in kindergarten through grade 8 who need additional academic or behavioral support to succeed in the general education environment. The school must provide interim assessments that measure pupils' performance three times per year and implement progress monitoring appropriate to the pupil. For purposes of this section, "progress monitoring" means the frequent and continuous measurement of a pupil's performance that includes these three interim assessments and other pupil assessments during the school year. A school, at its discretion, may allow pupils in grades 9 through 12 to participate in interim assessments;
    (2) a system of scientific, research-based instruction and intervention; and
    (3) an organizational plan that allows teachers, paraprofessionals, and volunteers funded through various sources to work as a grade-level team or use another configuration across grades and settings to deliver instruction. The team must be trained in scientific, research-based instruction and intervention. Teachers and paraprofessionals at a site operating under this paragraph must work collaboratively with those pupils who need additional academic or behavioral support to succeed in a general education environment.
    (b) As an intervention under paragraph (a), clause (2), staff generating special education aid under section
125A.76 may provide small group instruction to pupils who need additional academic or behavioral support to succeed in the general education environment. Small group instruction that includes pupils with a disability may be provided in the general education environment if the needs of the pupils with a disability are met, consistent with their individual education plans, and all pupils in the group receive the same level of instruction and make the same progress in the instruction or intervention. Teachers and paraprofessionals must ensure that the needs of pupils with a disability participating in small group instruction under this paragraph remain the focus of the instruction. Expenditures attributable to the time special education staff spends providing instruction to nondisabled pupils in this circumstance is eligible for special education aid under section 125A.76 as an incidental benefit if:
    (1) the group consists primarily of disabled pupils;
    (2) no special education staff are added to meet nondisabled pupils' needs; and
    (3) the primary purpose of the instruction is to implement the individual education plans of pupils with a disability in this group.

Expenditures attributable to the time special education staff spends providing small group instruction to nondisabled pupils that affords more than an incidental benefit to such pupils is not eligible for special education aid under section 125A.76, except that such expenditures may be included in the alternative delivery initial aid adjustment under section 125A.78 if the district has an approved program under section 125A.50. During each 60-day period that a nondisabled pupil participates in small group instruction under this paragraph, the pupil's progress monitoring data must be examined to determine whether the pupil is making progress and, if the pupil is not making progress, the pupil's intervention strategies must be changed or the pupil must be referred for a special education evaluation.

MN Statute 125A.56(b)

Pre-referral interventions, as a part of early intervening services are the responsibility of general education teachers with the support and consultation of the principal, special education teachers, school psychologist, school social worker, and other specialists.  This process is typically conducted by a problem solving team.  Existing data from MCA II and curriculum based measures (CBM) should be reviewed in order to clearly identify the issue of concern. The problem solving team needs to develop criteria and indicators to determine whether or not an intervention is successful. Response to intervention (RTI) is an approach for sorting out whether a struggling child really is a "child with a disability" as defined by IDEA or just needs more intensive regular education strategies to succeed in school. RTI usually consists of 3 levels of assistance. When a student is identified as struggling to learn either through a system wide screening test or through teacher observation or testing, an RTI process may be used to see how the student responds to deliberate research-based interventions and other direct supports. If the student fails to make satisfactory progress at any level, the problem solving team should review the progress and determine if the frequency, intensity or change in the intervention should occur.

The ASEC recommends the use of CBM measures for frequent progress monitoring. Limited access to the AIMsWeb data management system is available to the districts by contacting ASEC.  At least two pre-referral interventions are required before a special education assessment may be conducted.  There may be an exception only if the parent requests an assessment and/or if there is some urgency in the student's situation.


Length of Time for Pre-referral Interventions

Generally, before referring a student for special education assessment, there needs to be documentation of the interventions tried, over at least a 30-day school period by the problem solving team. Before referring a student for behavioral reasons, the documentation of interventions used in the regular classroom should generally occur over a six-month school period. Sometimes these interventions may have been started in the previous grade and continued the following year.

Even when the classroom teacher decides not to refer a student for special education assessment, the documentation should be placed in the student’s cum file so that a history of academic difficulties may be established for possible later referral.

2.2 Nonpublic and Interagency Referral


2.02.01 Procedures for Receiving Referrals

Legal Citation

Notwithstanding any age limits in laws to the contrary, special instruction and services must be provided from birth until July 1 after the child with a disability becomes 21 years old but shall not extend beyond secondary school or its equivalent, except as provided in section 124D.68, subdivision 2.  Local health, education, and social service agencies must refer children under age five who are known to need or suspected of needing special instruction and services to the school district. Districts with less than the minimum number of eligible children with a disability as determined by the commissioner must cooperate with other districts to maintain a full range of programs for education and services for children with a disability. This section does not alter the compulsory attendance requirements of section 120A.22.

MN Statute 125A.03(b)

The school districts within the ASEC,  have a process in place for identifying children with disabilities beginning at birth. Children from birth three are referred by parents, physicians and other agencies to the local central point of intake in each county or through State Help Me Grow. Referrals are forwarded to the Early Intervention Assessment Team. The facilitator with input from the family involves the appropriate agencies that may provide services to the child and family. Preschool children ages 3 to kindergarten are referred to the district of residence early childhood teacher. Preschoolers evaluated and not found eligible for early childhood special education are referred to the local  Help Me Grow Team when appropriate. For school age children attending either attending a public or private school or children with disabilities who are of school age and are not attending school, referrals can be made to the district's building student assistance team. The student assistance team will process the referral, obtain parent input and permission to evaluate, and involve the appropriate team members from the school and other agencies, as appropriate.


Referrals for children birth to three may be made to the central point of referral for each county or by contacting the State Help Me Grow at 866-693-3769 or the Help Me Grow website.


The ASEC has three private schools within the cooperative. These schools are located in East Grand Forks, Alvarado and Red Lake Falls. Specific child find procedures for private schools are outlined in the Referral Procedures for Nonpublic Sp Ed Evaluations brochure provided to the private schools and available to home school families.


Student Support Teams

General education teachers can effectively meet some of the needs of many students with learning and behavior problems within the general education classroom.  Situations arise, however, when a teacher needs a support system to help with students who present unique learning and adjustment problems. Student support teams (SST) may assist general educators in solving these problems by determining appropriate pre-referral interventions.   Pre-referral interventions help determine if the student's learning problem is specific to the student or a result of the method of instruction or other classroom variables.  An SST team meeting is particularly important in creating a partnership between the school and family; it is an opportunity to collect information about the student. The districts within the ASEC have developed child study procedures based on the ASEC recommended policy. A sample referral form is available however each district may develop their own forms and process for referral.


Student Support Team Process

The fourteen districts that make up the Area Special Education Cooperative (hereafter referred to as the districts) have adopted a cooperative procedure for the identification and evaluation of students with disabilities.


Local Help Me Grow -Birth to 5 years

The districts within the Area Special Education Cooperative, in cooperation with the health and human service agencies located in each county in which the ASEC district's are located, have established a local point of referral, for children with disabilities under age five and their families.

The local Help Me Grow team in each county includes representatives of public health, school, Head Start, mental health and county human service agencies as well as other public agencies to act as the local level of agency support and communication among agencies that work with young children and their families. The Region 1 IEIC has developed and implemented interagency operating procedures and work plan designed to identify and coordinate a system for referral.


Birth to Age Three: If the child is under the age of three, the referral is given to the ASEC Early Evaluation team within four days of the referral being made. The Early Intervention teacher on this team is assigned as the facilitator for the referral and supports the family during the evaluation process. The evaluation by the Early Evaluation team is completed within 45 calendar days from the referral date.

Age Three to Five: If the child is over age three, the referral is given to the Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) teacher assigned to the district of the child’s residence. The ECSE teacher is responsible for obtaining consent for evaluation, assisting in developing an evaluation plan and participating along with others in the evaluation.


Student Support Team (SST) Kindergarten through 12th Grade

General education teachers can effectively meet some of the needs of students with learning and behavior problems within the general education classroom.  Situations arise, however, when a teacher needs a support system to help with students who present unique learning and adjustment problems. Student support teams (SST) may assist general educators in solving these problems by determining appropriate pre-referral interventions.   Pre-referral interventions help determine if the student's learning problem is specific to the student or a result of the method of instruction or other variables.  An SST team meeting is particularly important in creating a partnership between the school and family; it is an opportunity to collect information about the student.

Each district and/or each building within the district has its own SST. The main function of the team is to provide an orderly and systematic procedure to identify and monitor students at risk of academic or behavioral difficulties by:

         Behaviorally clarifying the presenting problem;

         Pulling together and considering existing information as it relates to the presenting problem;

         Gathering additional information within the general education setting utilizing general education personnel and/or procedures;

         Determining appropriate course of action in attempting to resolve the presenting problem; and

         Recommending when special education assessment seems appropriate.

The SST team is generally composed of regular education teachers, counselor or school social worker, building principal and others as appropriate such as licensed special education personnel, speech clinician and school psychologist. Some districts have combined the functions of the team to include Early Intervention Services (EIS) and Section 504 referrals as well as referrals for special education. Those teams may have a somewhat different mix of special and regular education personnel. There are, however certain permanent members of the SST and this membership is determined based upon the needs of the building and at the discretion of the principal. 

Process for Referral K-12 including Private or Home Schools

1.      The teacher, parent, private school staff or others identify a concern regarding a student.


a.    If the referral is initiated by the parent, the SST referral form is completed and returned to the SST chair person.

b.    If the referral is initiated by the classroom teacher the SST referral and any documentation of interventions attempted is returned to the SST chairperson. Prior to the referral the parent must first be informed of the concern and attempts to intervene.

2.      The SST referral form is returned to the chair person of the SST.

a.   Private or Home School Referral: When a child is educated in a private school, the building SST responsible for that age range of children responds to the referral and follows the same process as a public school referral.

b.   Referrals must be responded to within 10 days of receiving them.

3.   The SST reviews the referral information and any previous teacher interventions.3*  If the referral is from a private school, the classroom teacher or representative is invited to the SST meeting at which the student will be discussed. The SST, which includes the classroom teacher, determines if additional interventions are appropriate or more data is needed.  A “case manger” is assigned to oversee the option recommended by the team.


a.    If pre-referral interventions are implemented the SST will monitor effectiveness of the interventions and systematically review the student’s progress.

b.   If the decision is for an evaluation for special education a special education teacher is assigned as case manager and an evaluation determination is made and additional evaluation team members identified.

   If the student is evaluated for special education and found eligible for services an IEP is developed and services initiated.

   If the student is fund ineligible for special education services, the team considers other options or recommendations. Some possible recommendations or options include the suggestions in “c.” below.

c.    If the team determines not to conduct a special education evaluation, a summary form indicating recommendations is completed and kept on file with the chair of the SST.  A “case manager” should be assigned to follow up on any recommendations made by the team. Some possible recommendations or options include:

   Continue with further EIS interventions;

   Consider a 504 Plan;

   Consider referral to outside agencies;

   No further action, concern resolved.

The student's parent must be provided an opportunity to participate in this review.  Best practice would suggest that the parent be contacted by phone prior to sending a Notice of a Team Meeting in order to schedule a convenient date.



For children birth to age seven suspected of having a hearing or vision disability, the team must include a licensed teacher in each area of suspected sensory impairment.


2.02.02  Making Referrals


Legal Citation

The Interagency Early Intervention Committee must develop and implement interagency policies and procedures concerning the following ongoing duties:

MN Statute 125A.30(b)(3)


2.03 Infant and Toddler Referral


2.03.01 Referral Procedures

Legal Citation

  1. The child find system must include procedures for use by primary referral sources for referring a child to the appropriate public agency within the system for:

    1. Evaluation and assessment or

    2. As appropriate the provision of services.

  2. The procedures required in this section must:

    1. Provide for an effective method of making referrals by primary referral sources;

    2. Ensure that referrals are made no more than two working days after a child has been identified; and

    3. Include procedures for determining the extent to which primary referral sources, especially hospitals and physicians, disseminate the information, prepared by the lead agency on the availability of early intervention services to parents of infants and toddlers with disabilities


Each district has established a referral procedure that utilizes the school social worker in Red Lake county and the public health nursing service in the counties of Polk, Marshall and Norman as the local central intake point for referrals on children who may be eligible for an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP). An IFSP is a written plan for providing services to a child between the ages of birth through age 2 and the child’s family. Referrals on preschool children age 3 through 5 should be made to the resident school district.


The following referral system was developed with input from the local Help Me Grow Committees: New


In the event of exceptional circumstances that make it impossible to complete the evaluation and evaluation within 45 calendar day (e.g., if the child is ill) the district will:

Referrals for children birth to three may be made to the local central point of referral for each county or by contacting the State Help Me Grow at 866-693-3769 or the Help Me Grow website.


2.03.02 Referral Sources

As used in paragraph (d)(1) of this section, primary referral sources includes:

  1. Hospitals, including prenatal and postnatal care facilities;

  2. Physicians;

  3. Parents;

  4. Day car programs;

  5. Local educational agencies;

  6. Public health facilities;

  7. Other social service agencies; and

  8. Other health care providers

34 C.RF.R. 303.321(d)(3)


2.03.03 Appointment of Service Coordinator New


Service coordination means services provided by a  service coordinator to assist and enable an infant or toddler with a disability and the child's family to receive the services and rights, including procedural safeguards. Each infant or toddler with a disability and the child's family must be provided with one service coordinator who is responsible for:


  1. Coordinating all services required under this part across  agency lines; and

  2. Serving as the single point of contact for carrying out the activities described in this section.


Service coordination is an active, ongoing process that involves:

  1. Assisting parents of infants and toddlers with disabilities in gaining access to, and coordinating the provision of , the early intervention services; and

  2. Coordinating the other services identified in the IFSP under 303.344(e) that are needed by, or are being provided to, the infant or toddler with a disability and that child's family.

34 CFR 303.


The team developing the IFSP under section 125A.32 must select a service coordinator to carry out service coordination activities on an interagency basis. Service coordination must actively promote a family's capacity and competency to identify, obtain, coordinate, monitor, and evaluate resources and services to meet the family's needs. Service coordination activities include:

(1) coordinating the performance of evaluations and assessments;

(2) facilitating and participating in the development, review, and evaluation of individualized family service plans;

(3) assisting families in identifying available service providers;

(4) coordinating and monitoring the delivery of available services;

(5) informing families of the availability of advocacy services;

(6) coordinating with medical, health, and other service providers;

(7) facilitating the development of a transition plan at least 90 days before the time the child is no longer eligible for early intervention services or, at the discretion of all parties, not more than nine months prior to the child's eligibility for preschool services, if appropriate;

(8) managing the early intervention record and submitting additional information to the local primary agency at the time of periodic review and annual evaluations; and

(9) notifying a local primary agency when disputes between agencies impact service delivery required by an IFSP.

(b) A service coordinator must be knowledgeable about children and families receiving services under this section, requirements of state and federal law, and services available in the interagency early childhood intervention system.


MN Statues 125A.33


Generally service coordinator services within the ASEC districts are provided by the Early Intervention teachers. It is their responsibility to conduct a family needs assessment, if agreeable to the family. Based on information from the needs assessment, the service coordinator will facilitate the coordination of services from the school as well as any other agencies working with the family. Service coordination also includes:

  1. Assisting parents of infants and toddlers with disabilities in obtaining access to needed early intervention services and other services identified in the IFSP, including making referrals to providers for needed services and scheduling appointments for infant and toddlers with disabilities and their families;

  2. Coordinating the provision of early intervention services and other services (such as educational, social, and medical services that are not provided for diagnostic or evaluative purposes) that the child needs or is being provided;

  3. Coordinating evaluations and assessments;

  4. Facilitating and participating in the development, review, and evaluation of IFSPs;

  5. Conducting referral and other activities to assist families in identifying available EIS providers;

  6. Coordinating, facilitating, and monitoring the delivery of services required under this part to ensure that the services are provided in a timely manner;

  7. Conducting follow-up activities to determine that appropriate Part C services are being provided;

  8. Informing families of their rights and procedural safeguards, as set forth in subpart E of this part and related resources;

  9. Coordinating the funding sources for services required under this part; and

  10. Facilitating the development of a transition plan to preschool, school, or if appropriate, to other services.

CFR 34.303.34 (3)


Limited English Speaking Families


If the family is bilingual, the special education director or assistant director should be contacted to assist you with the due process procedures when conducting a minority assessment. See Request For Interpreter form.


For your information: In Minnesota, a Limited English Speaking (LEP) learner is defined as a learner who:

first learned a language other than English; comes from a home where the language usually spoken is other than English; or usually speaks a language other than English; and

scores significantly below the district average for learners of the same age on the reading and language arts subtests of a nationally normed achievement test. Teacher evaluation of skills in understanding, speaking, reading and writing should also be considered.


Communicating with Parents Who are Limited English Proficient (LEP)

Federal laws and state rules require schools to inform all parents of their special education due process rights. This includes parents who do not speak English or who use another communication mode. This necessitates the use of translations and interpretations for parents who are not fluent in English. The underlying goal of federal laws and rules is to enable parents to provide informed consent. In order to give informed consent, parents must receive information in a manner that they can understand. Informed consent also increases school/parent cooperation and understanding. In order to meet the intent of the law, schools should think about both the language of the parent and the best methods of communication

One method of communication is to use the written translations of due process materials. These are available by contacting the ASEC office. Parents, however, have varying abilities to speak and read their native language and English.  For example, some parents are highly literate in their native language but do not speak or read in English. These parents can benefit from translated forms. Other parents may speak some English as well as their native language but not read in either. Oral interpretation may be more meaningful to these parents.


Parents Do Not Want An Interpreter

Many adults in Minnesota who are native speakers of another language are very fluent in English. However, cultural values, personal pride and the desire to not create a burden for the school may lead some parents to claim a greater degree of English proficiency than they actually possess. There may be situations where the parents refuse the right to an interpreter, but staff members suspect that they do not fully understand the complex information being presented. In these cases, districts may wish to try the following steps. In all cases, it is important for the school staff and parents to take some time to get to know each other and develop a trusting relationship.


Parents are Unable to Read

Because of lack of opportunity for education, some parents of LEP students are unable to read or write in their native language. Districts should provide oral interpretation in these cases so that parents can be involved in their child's education in a meaningful way. Even when parents are unable to read, districts are advised to have their interpreter use the translated due process forms. This is recommended for the following reasons.

It is also helpful to tape record oral interpretations of special education materials. Special education is complex and the information shared at team meetings can be difficult to absorb in one sitting. A tape recording would give parents the chance to listen to the information several times to refresh their memory.


Funding for Interpreters

Special education laws and rules specifically require schools to communicate with parents in their native language. State and federal special education funds may therefore be used to pay interpreters who help carry out due process requirements ( including implementation of IEP's). Schools can either employ staff or contract for these services. Employees should be claimed as Bilingual Home-School Liaisons (EDRS personnel type 39) Contracts are handled in the same manner as any other outside contract for special education services.


Revised 1-20-2012