What are special education services and who qualifies for services?
Most students do not require special education services, as the majority of classes are tailored to meet the needs of the general student population. Special education services are services provided to students with unique learning needs, and who may require additional classroom support. These services are tailored to the needs of individual students who have special needs. Some services may include:
- Speech therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Consultant teacher services
- Education in a special class under the direction of a special education teacher
In order to qualify for special education services, a student must have a documented disability that negatively impacts his or her ability to learn in school. A psychological evaluation conducted by a school psychologist is often utilized to help determine the need for special education services.
What is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)?
IDEA is a law that ensures that free and appropriate public education is offered to all individuals with disabilities through the use of special education and related services. The law governs who qualifies for services and how public agencies provide speical education and related services to students with disabilities.
What is the process of qualifying for special education services?
1)Referral-Parents or school professionals may refer the child to be evaluated for special education services, if there is a possibility of a disability effecting the child’s ability to learn. Parental consent is needed prior to the start of the evaluation.
2)Evaluation- A comprehensive evaluation is conducted which may involve a social history, interview with the parent, school personnel and/or the student, and psychological assessments. The evaluation is aimed to assess all areas related to the individuals suspected disability.
3)Determination of Eligibility-A committee on special education (CSE) meets and determines if an individual is eligible for special education services.
4)Developing an IEP-A meeting is held with school personnel, parents and student to discuss the student’s needs and services that can be implemented in order to ensure that the student is learning effectively.
What is an Individualized Education Program (IEP)?
An IEP is required for each student receiving special education services. The IEP is individualized and intended to help the student reach their educational goals. Additionally, an IEP helps teachers/faculty understand the student’s disability as well as how it effects his or her process of learning. Services and interventions are highlighted throughout the plan to help the student learn effectively. The IEP plan is reviewed periodically and adjusted to ensure the students educational and learning needs are being met.
What is a Section 504 plan?
A 504 plan provides supports and services in school for students who may not need an individual education program (IEP). A 504 plan helps ensure that students with disabilities receive equal access to general education. 504 plans often include accommodations such as changes to the environment, instruction and/or how the curriculum is presented to the student. The goal is to remove any barriers that students may have to effective learning.
What does a least restrictive environment mean?
Per the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), special education services should be implemented to the student in a general education classroom with others students who do not receive services. The goal is to have the student receiving services in a general education classroom to the “maximum extent that is appropriate”.
What are self-contained classrooms?
A self-contained classroom is provided to students who learn better in a classroom with only student’s receiving special education services. The classroom typically has fewer students than a general education classroom and can offer more individualized instruction.
What is a School Psychologist?
The role of School Psychologists is to work with students who may have a variety of academic, social, or emotional concerns. School psychologists help students in a variety of ways, and often collaborate with teachers, parents, and other professionals. Some of the typical responsibilities of school psychologists include:
- Conducting psychological evaluations (for new referrals and triennial reviews)
- Participating in the Committee on Special Education process
- Conducting parent conferences/meetings
- Consulting with teachers and staff regarding students
- Initiating academic and behavioral interventions
- Participating in the pre-referral Student Support Team process
What is the Committee on Special Education? (CSE)
Members of the Committee on Special Education work as a team and are responsible for reviewing referrals, arranging for evaluations and recommending programs and services for children and adolescents with disabilities. Teachers, parents, and other professionals involved in providing services to the student assist the committee in making decisions about a child’s strengths, appropriate programs and services, and placement to meet the child’s unique needs. Some people who may participate in the committee are:
· Parent of the child
· General education teacher
· Special education teacher
· School Psychologist
· Chair of the Committee on Special Education
· Other special education service providers
· The student (when appropriate)