Intervention and Referral Services (I&RS), is an interdisciplinary team of professionals within the school environment who come together throughout the school year to formulate coordinated services and team delivery systems to address the full range of student learning, behavior, social, and health problems in the general education program as well as for students determined in need of special education programs and services. The goal of the committee is to see student improvement in targeted areas.

I&RS Brochure


Erin Kirkby, I&RS Coordinator


[email protected]



School staff often request assistance either after they have exhausted their repertoire of correctional strategies or when they have encountered complex or intense problems that defy simple or conventional solutions. The I&RS team serves as a resource that can either identify a variety of new strategies, ideas and perspectives for the resolution of the problem, or act as a vehicle for the creation of new and innovative strategies that are specifically designed to address the particulars of each case.

Since the ultimate goal of every I&RS action plan is to maximize the chances for short-term success, a well as long term change of the individuals' involved, the team continues the I&RS process for each case, as necessary, to achieve the desired outcomes. A plan that does not achieve the intended results is not a failure, but provides additional information for team consideration, and it indicates that additional work must be done; this is the nature of the I&RS process.

When might a teacher request an I&RS review?

A teacher routinely differentiates instruction to address students' needs in the classroom. Teachers request services of the I&RS Committee when a student continues to have difficulties despite these efforts.

How is a Student Referred?

  1. Problem Identified: A school staff member or parent needs assistance with their student's learning, behavior, social, or health problem(s) occurring during the student's school program.

  2. I&RS Referral Packet Completed: The I&RS team only begins once a staff member completes and submits the I&RS Request Form to the Director of Student Personnel Services and I&RS Coordinator, Erin Kirkby. The form clearly states the reasons for the referral, observations, and all prior interventions tried for the identified area of concern.

  3. Referral Packet Reviewed: The I&RS coordinator reviews the referral packet to ensure that it is completed accurately and then requests additional information, including sample student work and input from other teachers.

  4. I&RS Referral Meeting: The I&RS coordinator schedules a meeting for the referring teacher to discuss their concerns with the full I&RS Team.

  5. Parental Input: The I&RS Coordinator reaches out to the parent to provide an update on their student's referral and also provide related materials, including a Parent/Guardian Questionnaire. Parents are invited to attend an I&RS planning meeting to develop an Action Plan to help address the presenting concerns. 

What kind of needs are reviewed by the I&RS?

When a student experiences difficulties that impact their academic progress, or has exhibited behavior that interferes with learning, support from I&RS may be requested. Student difficulties may include difficulty responding to written or verbal information, organizing, focusing, managing emotions, and/or completing work without continued intervention. 

How does I&RS help a teacher and student?

I&RS supports the teachers and students by developing an intervention plan that may provide alternative strategies, programs, and/or assessments. The interventions are designed to support the student in achieving success within the regular education program.

How are parents informed?

Often, I&RS referrals are made after continued communication between teachers and parents. However, formal notification of I&RS referral is made by the I&RS Coordinator. Following the initial referral, the I&RS Coordinator will reach out to the parent/guardian and review the referral, while also requesting additional information. Parents/guardians will also be invited to meet with the IR&S committee and the referring teacher to provide input in the development of the action plan. When the action plan is complete the parents will receive a copy of the plan that has been developed.

What happens during an I&RS meeting with the teacher?

Following a teacher's submission of an I&RS request to the I&RS Coordinator, the teacher is invited to discuss the problem with the I&RS Committee at a meeting scheduled during the school day. At that time, the teacher describes the student and the challenge. They will identify both successful and unsuccessful strategies used, as well as current efforts. Alternative means of intervention and new approaches are suggested. A plan of action is developed specifying the goals, strategies to be used, and the individuals responsible for each action. A time line is established for implementing the plan and assessing its effectiveness.

How is follow-up provided?

The action plan is monitored by the classroom teacher and the I&RS Committee. At a time specified within the plan, the teacher meets with I&RS committee once again to report on its success. If the child's needs are not being met by the initial plan, additional interventions may be suggested and modifications made to the plan.

Is this the same as referral for Special Education? 

No. I&RS recommends actions intended to help resolve the challenge identified to prevent referral to the Child Study Team. If the actions taken and resources used are not adequate and the problem still remains, the child's needs may suggest referral to the Child Study Team. Parents will participate in the decision as to whether a referral for a Child Study Team evaluation will be done.

Who serves on the River Dell's I&RS Committee?

Permanent members of the Problem Solving Committee include the Director of Student Personnel Services, School Counselors, the School Nurse, Teachers, a CST member, and the Student Assistance Counselor. Committee members are utilized as necessary on a case by case basis.


I&RS vs. 504 Accommodation Plan vs. IEP

You've heard about the I&RS Plan and the 504 Accommodation Plan as well as the IEP, but what are these documents? How are they different? When are they relevant to your child? And most importantly, how do you get one if you need one?

Let's begin with the plan that is least involved and I'll get into the plan that is the most involved.

Intervention & Referral Services Action Plan

Based on the NJ Administrative Code (6A; 16-8.1; Establishment of Intervention and Referral Services) all school districts are required to have an I&RS committee available for students who are struggling with a learning, behavioral or health issue.

An I&RS plan is developed and implemented within the school in order to provide accommodations and support to the student. This plan is created by the I&RS team in conjunction with the student's parent(s). Accommodations are based on teacher observations and interventions already used. No testing is required.

The types of accommodations that can be a part of an I&RS plan range can include accommodations, such as seat changes, extra time, access to study guides, etc. as well as more intensive supports such as individual counseling or supplemental instruction. Student progress is monitored and evaluated every few weeks and plans are updated according to student need and progress. 

The 504 Accommodation Plan

The 504 Accommodation Plan is guided by the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) to ensure that a student with a disability has access to accommodations to improve academic functioning, as the disability affects the student's ability to perform academically and make progress.

In order to qualify for a 504 Accommodation Plan, a student must have a diagnosis; however, a diagnosis does not ensure that your child will be granted a 504 Accommodation Plan. The diagnosis can include a physical or emotional disability, recovering from a chemical dependency, or impairment (e.g. Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) that restricts one or more major life activity.

A document is created that specifies the disability as well as the accommodations needed by the student. Accommodations can consist of: moving a child's seat, permitting a child to have frequent snacks or drink in the classroom due to a diagnosis (e.g., diabetes, etc), providing extended time on tests or assignments, modifying test questions, and/or providing statewide testing accommodations. Note that a student is not able to receive specialized instruction (e.g., In Class Resource program or Out of Class Resource Replacement) through a 504 Accommodation Plan.

The Individualized Education Plan (IEP)

An IEP is guided by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and is a plan and program that provides special education and related services to a student who is identified as having a disability that negatively impacts ability to receive academic instruction. A student who receives special education services is entitled to modification of curriculum, classroom accommodations, specialized instruction, and related services such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy and/or counseling.

An IEP is a comprehensive and legal document that incorporates a student's present levels of academic achievement and functional performance (PLAAFP) in which each teacher/therapist provides feedback about the student's performance within the subject area and related service. Information from the PLAAFP guides the goals and objectives, which are specific identification of skills and areas that will be addressed through the IEP program. Goals and objectives are also ways of measuring growth within those areas over the course of the school year.

A child who is referred for special education and related services is tested by the Child Study Team. These evaluations can consist of the following: Psychological Evaluation, Educational Evaluation, Social Evaluation, Speech Evaluation, Physical Therapy Evaluation, Occupational Therapy Evaluation. Other evaluations, such as a Central Auditory Processing Evaluation, neurological exam, or psychiatric evaluation are often conducted by professionals outside of the school. Parents can request that the school cover the cost of these evaluations, or pay for them privately. Note that a parent can also gain an independent evaluation (Psychological, Educational) on a private basis, and submit these reports for the Child Study Team to review.

A student with an IEP is re-evaluated every three years to determine continued eligibility. However, a parent can request a re-evaluation sooner than three years, but not less than one year. An IEP is also reviewed annually.

To clarify things a little better, an I&RS plan is what you can seek when your child needs formal accommodations, but does not have a documented disability (learning, behavioral or emotional). Request a 504 Accommodation Plan when your child has a diagnosed disability and requires classroom and statewide testing accommodations. Request a Child Study Team evaluation for a potential IEP when your child has a disability (learning, emotional, medical or behavioral) that requires the modification of curriculum and other special education programs, related services, and classroom and statewide testing accommodations. I hope this has taken the mystery out of which plan is right for your child!

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