How does a student qualify for special education services?
There are several steps to be completed and criteria to be met before a student begins to receive services.
(Note: Steps 2 and 3 are not completed for early childhood students.)
1. Identify educational concerns: Educational concerns relevant to a child may be identified in the classroom and from parents.
2. Implement intervention strategies: Once an educational concern has been identified, the child’s general education teacher, in consultation with a Care Team/Building Level Team (including the counselor, teachers, school psychologist, etc.), will attempt a variety of intervention strategies with the child and share the results of the interventions with the child's parents prior to making a decision about evaluation. The emphasis throughout the entire intervention process is to meet the educational, social, emotional and other needs of students in a general education setting and to gather data documenting response to those interventions.
3. Review by Building Level Team: The Building Level Team reviews the data and determines whether the intervention strategies have successfully addressed the concern(s). If not, the team communicates its continuing concerns to the child’s parents and seeks their insight and support in developing additional strategies for resolving the concern(s). Many students who are referred to a Building Level Team are not referred for a special education evaluation if the concerns can be addressed with supports provided within the general education setting.
4. Completion of data gathering packet: The data gathering packet should document concerns and the basis for those concerns. Developmental history and adaptive behavioral information from parents is included, as well as medical diagnoses or educational testing results from other sources. The data-gathering packet is forwarded to the Joint Review Committee.
5. Review by Joint Review Committee: The Joint Review Committee consists of a representative from the partner district (typically a school counselor) and a representative from SSD (typically a diagnostician). The committee determines whether an evaluation is warranted by reviewing the referral packet for completeness and appropriateness based on Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education guidelines. The decision to evaluate requires a consensus of committee participants and is binding on both the partner district and SSD. Before a decision can be made, the committee reviews the data packet to determine whether:
6. Referral to SSD: If the Joint Review Committee determines that the child should be referred for evaluation, the SSD representative involved in the review activities will notify the parents in writing of the decision. Parents also will receive:
- The Building Level Team has identified specific concerns that have an adverse educational impact
- There is a suspicion of an educational disability
- The severity of that disability might warrant special education and related services
7. Review of existing data: If it is determined that an evaluation is warranted, an evaluation plan is developed through a review of existing data to identify what additional information is required in order to identify:
- A written explanation of the procedural safeguards
- Parents Bill of Rights
- An explanation of the proposed action(s)
8. Notice and consent for evaluation: Notice of Action/Consent to Evaluate must be provided within 30 days of referral for evaluation. Written parental consent, which usually occurs at a “Review of Existing Data" meeting, must be obtained prior to conducting any assessments. This consent must meet the “Prior Written Notice” requirements as defined by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA):
- Whether the child is eligible for services through identification as a child with an educational diagnosis based on state criteria
- The child’s “Present Level of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance” based on how the child is currently performing in school
- Whether that disability interferes with the child’s educational performance
- Whether the child needs special education and related services
- Whether, in the case of a re-evaluation, any adaptations or modifications are needed to enable the child to meet Individualized Education Program (IEP) annual goals and participate, as appropriate, in the general education curriculum.
9. Completion of evaluation: During the 60 days after consent to evaluate has been obtained, assessments in areas identified as concerns are completed by SSD school psychologists, examiners and teachers.
- A description of the action proposed
- An explanation of why the action is being taken
- A description of the options considered and why they were rejected
- A description of each evaluation procedure, test, record, or report used as a basis for the action;
- A description of any relevant factors considered (if there were “none” it must so state)
- Information about how to obtain a copy of Procedural Safeguards and who to contact for interpretive information
10. Eligibility conference: At the eligibility conference, each evaluator reports his/her assessment results, and a determination is made concerning whether or not the student is eligible for special education services according to state criteria. The team will also discuss issues related to access to the general education curriculum.
11. Development of Individualized Education Program: An IEP is:
12. Placement notice and consent to place: The special education placement for each student with a disability is based on the student’s IEP. To the maximum extent appropriate, this placement will be in the student’s home school and district. Parental consent must be obtained prior to any initial placement.
- A legal document outlining the complete educational program for a child with a disability
- Written by an IEP team consisting of the child’s parents/guardians, a general education teacher, a special education teacher, representatives of the local school district and SSD, and an individual who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results
- Written in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
- Developed within 30 days of diagnosis
13. Provision of services begins.