Many parents that I work with are new to the IEP process, so I wanted to take this opportunity to provide a general overview of how special education eligibility works and what the life cycle of an IEP looks like. If there is anything that remains unclear, or you may have additional questions, please feel free to contact me.
Response to Intervention: This is a means of prevention and early intervention. Students that may start falling behind in one or more areas of functioning are provided with strategies to address these areas of concern. Their progress is monitored over a period of time to determine if the strategies are effective in supporting the student needs. Results over time of the student needs, progress, and intensity of intervention drive decision-making as to whether or not it may be appropriate to convene a meeting to discuss further action. This process takes place in the general education setting with our Principal-Led Problem Solving Team (PLT). For more specific information regarding the problem solving process, please follow the link on the Pupil Services home page.
Special Education Eligibility: If a student is not making adequate progress with interventions implemented, or is requiring intensive intervention in order to maintain progress, the educational team may determine that special education services should be considered. This process consists of the educational team, which include the parents. It is important to understand that in order to be eligible for special education services, the area of concern MUST HAVE AN EDUCATIONAL IMPACT. Services are considered when a student’s access to their education is hindered as a result of a disability. It may be possible for a child to be diagnosed with a disability that is not significantly impacting their access to education. A significant discrepancy in performance in relation to their peers would determine the educational impact of a disability.
Domain Meeting: A domain meeting is the first step into determining whether or not a child is eligible for special education services. The purpose of this meeting is to determine which domains of functioning (communication, motor, achievement, etc.) are relevant in relation to the areas of concern. Existing information about the student’s functioning is shared, and the need for further data collection is determined. This meeting commences the evaluation process.
Evaluation: The educational team has 60 calendar days from the date of signed consent to collect the necessary data by means of formal or informal assessment and observation. With parent consent, this timeline may be extended due to breaks from school when assessment would not be possible. The educational team compiles their portions of the evaluation into a report.
Multidisciplinary Conference/Eligibility Meeting: The purpose of this meeting is to review results of the evaluation data. Areas in which the student functioning is significantly discrepant from their peers may be considered for special education eligibility. Specific criteria must be met in order for a student to qualify for a special education category. The categories of special education include: Autism, Cognitive Disability, Deaf/Blindness, Deafness, Developmental Delay (age 3-9), Emotional Disability, Hearing Impairment, Multiple Disabilities, Orthopedic Impairment, Other Health Impairment, Speech and Language Impairment, Specific Learning Disability, and Traumatic Brain Injury. It may be determined that a child qualifies in more than one category. If this is the case, then one disability would be determined to be the primary disability and the other(s) as secondary.
Individualized Education Plan: If a child is determined to be eligible for special education services, an individualized education plan (IEP) is developed. The IEP is the document that outlines the student’s educational program. Information included in the IEP is: setting in which special education is received, related services, number of minutes student will receive services, necessary accommodations, and specific goals for student progress. An IEP is valid for 3 years; however, IEP meetings are held annually in order to update student progress. Student goals are monitored throughout the academic year.
Trienniel Re-evaluation: A student IEP must be re-evaluated for continued eligibility every three years. At this time, another domain meeting will take place to determine the appropriate areas for further assessment and the IEP cycle starts over. If a student has made adequate progress and is not determined to be significantly discrepant from their peers in any of the areas of functioning, an IEP may be terminated and special education services would be discontinued.