How Is a Student Found Eligible for Special Education?
Special education services are support services for students with an exceptionality. In order for a student to be eligible for special education services, the student must first be determined to have an exceptionality and need specialized instruction.
Child find is an ongoing process that school staff use to locate and identify students who may need special services. In Kansas, child find for preschool-aged students 3 to 5 years of age is called screening. Screening may consist of observations, interviews, and assessments that would identify a disability or a developmental delay.
For children in kindergarten through 12th grade, child find is accomplished through general education interventions. Child find is a first step in the district’s efforts for early intervention to meet the needs of students based on their response to intervention. After a student has been identified as needing additional support from the classroom teacher to meet expectations, supplemental intensified instruction is attempted to help the student learn. The teacher keeps track of student progress. If the teacher, parent or someone else in the school decides a child needs additional support, a team meets to consider the student’s needs in the area of concern.
The purpose of general education interventions is to see to what extent adjustments or changes need to be made to the general education curriculum and/or environment in order for the student to successful. The student’s educational team works together to identify the appropriate academic or behavioral interventions, implement the interventions, and assess the results of the intervention. If the interventions are beyond what could be provided by general education and requires specialized instruction, the team would refer the student for an initial special education evaluation.
An evaluation must assess the student’s needs in all areas related to the suspected area of exceptionality. In the initial evaluation information is collected to:
- decide if the student has an exceptionality based on eligibility criteria set by the Kansas Department of Education;
- decide if special education services are needed for the student to benefit from his/her education program;
- identify the student’s individual educational strengths and needs and to provide a basis for appropriate intervention.
The team determines if the student is eligible for services using the following components:
- the student must have an exceptionality; and
- the student must have a need for special education services.
Parents are given a copy of an evaluation report that documents the team’s decision regarding eligibility and the reasons for that decision. If the student is determined eligible and in need of services, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is developed and special education can begin.
Source: Kansas State Department of Education: Guide to Special Education (www.ksde.org)