Intervention and Referral Service (I&RS)

In This Together

What is I&RS?


Intervention and Referral Services, also known to many as 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.


School staff often request assistance for problems 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. Since staff frequently have already tried many traditional approaches to correct the behavior(s) of concern or are overwhelmed by the scope of the apparent problems, 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. It is questionable whether the adoption and institutionalization of an I&RS team is worth a school's effort if the team primarily adopts “cookbook” strategies for difficult problems or develops specialized plans that bear a marginal connection to the core and priority issues identified through an exhaustive review of the case information.

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 a child's needs in the classroom. The teacher requests services of the I&RS Committee when a particular child continues to have difficulties despite these efforts.

How is a Student Referred?

  1. A problem is identified: A school staff member or parent needs assistance with their child's learning, behavior, social, or health problem that is occurring during the student's school program.

  2. An I&RS Referral Packet is completed: The I&RS team only begins once a staff member completes and submits the I&RSReferral Form to the Student Assistance Counselor, Derek Giorgio.  The form should state clearly the reasons for the referral, their observations, and all prior interventions tried for the identified area of concern.

  3. The referral packet is reviewed: The I&RS coordinator, Derek Giorgio reviews the referral packet to ensure that it is completed accurately.

  4. Schedule the I&RS meeting: The I&RS coordinator schedules the meeting for the next I&RS meeting. The I&RS team meets monthly.

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

When a child experiences difficulties that effect his or her academic progress, or has exhibited behavior that interferes with learning, the teacher may request support from I&RS. Student difficulties may include problems responding to written or verbal information, organizing, focusing, and/or completing work without constant teacher 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?

The teacher discusses his or her concerns with the child's parents prior to requesting an I&RS review. Once the teacher has requested an I&RS review for the child, the I&RS committee will meet to brainstorm ideas for an educational action plan. Following the I&RS committee meeting the classroom teacher will brief the parents with the results. The parents will then be invited to meet with the IR&S committee and the classroom 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 Student Assistance Counselor, 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. He or she 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 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 Principal, Assistant Principal, Guidance Counselor, School Nurse, Teachers, and CST member and Student Assistance Counselor who is acting as the coordinator for the team. 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. The I&RS team is typically composed of the Principal, Guidance Counselor, teachers and the I&RS Coordinator. Other members, such as the Reading Specialist, Occupational/Physical or Speech therapist, and School Nurse can also be members.

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 th 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 from preferential seating, extended time on assignments or tests, providing a bathroom or snack break, providing verbal and non-verbal cues to help re-focus, and providing study guides. This plan is reviewed annually.

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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