Special Education Continuum

  • *Please note, information is adapted from:

    ISBE Guidance on Parent Rights

    Evaluation and Re-evaluation

    • Evaluation is defined regulations as procedures used to determine whether a child has a disability and the nature and extent of the special education and related services that the child needs.
    • The school district must assess the child in all areas of suspected disability including: academic performance, health, vision, hearing, social & emotional status, communication, motor abilities, general intelligence, functional performance, other areas as needed.
    • Public agencies are prohibited from using a measure or assessment for purposes different from the purpose for which the measure was designed.
    • Assessments are provided and administered in the child’s native language or mode of communication to get accurate information on what the child knows and can do.
    • The school district must use a variety of assessments, tools, and strategies to conduct the evaluation.
    • When conducting an initial evaluation, a child must be tested in all areas of suspected disability.
    • Data gathered from evaluations are used to assist in the development of the IEP.
    • Assessments should be valid and reliable for their de­signed purposes.
    • Assessments must be administered by personnel who are trained to do so.
    • Assessments and other evaluation materials used should be administered: so as not to be discriminatory on a racial or cultural basis, and in the child’s native language or other mode of commu­nication.
    • The determination of eligi­bility shall be made and the IEP shall be completed in 60 school days (or less) follow­ing the date of written con­sent from the parent.
    • Parent written informed consent must be obtained before the evaluation can be conducted.
    • Information should be collected through a variety of ap­proaches (observations, interviews, tests, curriculum-based assessment, and so on) and from a variety of sources (parents, teachers, specialists, peers, and the child)


    • IDEA lists different disability categories under which children may be eligible for services. For a child to be eligible for services, the disability must affect the child’s educational performance. Students may qualify for services under one or more categories. These 14 disabilities include: autism, deaf-blindness, deafness, developmental delay, emotional disorder, hearing impairment, intellectual disability, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, other health impairment, specific learning disability, speech or language impairment, traumatic brain injury, and visual impairment.
    • IDEA 2004 expanded the specific learning disability deter­mination to require States to adopt criteria
      • that does not require the use of a severe discrepancy be­tween intellectual ability and achievement in deter­mining whether a child has a specific learning dis­ability;
      • must permit school districts to use an educational process based on the child’s response to scientific, research-based instructional interventions; and
      • may permit the use of other alternative research-based procedures for determining whether a child has a specific learning disability.

    What is an IEP?

    • Once it is determined that a student meets the criteria to receive special education and related services, an Individ­ualized Education Program (IEP) will be developed. An IEP is a written statement of the educational program de­signed to meet the student’s needs and is developed by a team. The IEP includes a detailed description of what will be done to give the student the extra help needed. The IEP will change based on the student’s needs—it is like a road map showing where the student is and where he or she is going.

    Who is on the IEP team?

    • The following individuals are required to attend all IEP meetings:
      • Parent(s) - Parents are equal participants.
      • Student – The student may attend and participate if the parent(s) decide he/she should be present.
      • General Education Teacher - The IEP team must in­clude a general education teacher who has knowledge of the curriculum and may be responsible for imple­menting the IEP, if the child is, or may be, participating in the general education environment.
      • Special Education Teacher - There must be a special education teacher on the IEP team who is responsible for implementing the IEP.
      • School Administrator - This person must know about the general education curriculum and be able to ensure that the IEP is implemented and has the authority to commit resources.
      • Evaluation Personnel - This person must be someone who can explain evaluation and/or test results.
      • Others with knowledge or special expertise about the student - The parents or the school may bring oth­er people to the IEP meeting such as community ser­vice providers, advocates, lawyers, a friend for support etc.

    Individualized Education Programs (IEP’s):

    What an IEP Includes:

    • Present levels of academic and functional performance
    • Annual goals
    • Measurements of progress and how progress will be shared
    • What special education and related services will be provided: how often they will be provided (frequency), how long they will be provided (duration), where they will be provided (location), who will provide the services
    • How the child will access the general education cur­riculum
    • The modifications or supports that will be provided: in the classroom, to and from school, in the school building, for school functions (field trips, sports, prom, play­ground, etc.)
    • Assessment information (which assessments will be administered, any accommodations to the assessments)
    • A description of any assistive technology, including training, the student or staff may need
    • Special training or support that the student, the parent and school staff need in order to ensure the student is provided FAPE
    • A discussion of whether the student needs addition­al help and support when school is not in session (Ex­tended School Year Services [ESY]), and
    • Beginning when the child turns 14½, appropriate tran­sition services, including postsecondary services and supports.
    • The placement of the child that will implement the IEP.


    Early Childhood Special Education Services

    • The school district is required to provide a free appropri­ate public education for all children with disabilities who are age 3 through 21. Parents of preschool children who need, or are thought to need, special education and relat­ed services have the same rights as other school-age chil­dren. Special education and related services must begin on the child’s third (3rd) birthday for children served in an early intervention program or for those children referred for an evaluation 60 school days before their third birth­day and found eligible. If the child’s third birthday occurs during the summer, the IEP team will determine when the school district’s services to the child will begin.
    • There is no automatic eligibility for Early Childhood Spe­cial Education Services. Parents, school personnel, and others should work together to determine if the child is eligible to receive special education services.


    Procedural Safeguards in English


    Procedural Safeguards in Spanish

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