WHAT IS SPECIAL EDUCATION?
|Special Education includes specially designed instruction and related services provided to students with disabilities, ages three to 21. These services are provided in an environment as near to an average classroom as possible.
|WHO IS ELIGIBLE?
Students qualify for special education services if they are determined to have a disability and are in need of a specially designed instructional program to succeed in school. A student's disability may be in one or more areas: academic, physical, mental, emotional, information processing, or speech/language.
|HOW DOES A STUDENT QUALIFY FOR SERVICES?
Anyone who is concerned about a student's progress in school may start the process. Teachers typically consult with each other and try different interventions to help a struggling student. The Teacher Assistance Team keeps a record of the applied interventions, duration of the intervention, and the results. When the team determines that further attempts at interventions would be repetitious or impractical in nature, it makes a referral to the Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) by contacting the principal or chairperson.
|WHAT IS THE MDT?
The MDT generally consists of the principal, the student's general education teacher, parents, special educators, and special services ancillary staff. MDT meetings are generally held on a weekly basis.
|WHAT HAPPENS AT THE MDT MEETING?
The MDT will screen referrals, arrange for evaluations, consider evaluation results, and make recommendations to the Individual Education Plan Team (IEP-Team). This process usually takes about a month.
|WHAT IS AN IEP TEAM?
An Individual Education Plan (IEP) Team consists of the student's parent(s), an administrator, general education teacher, special education teacher, persons who evaluated the student, and any other persons desired by the parents. The student may also be included, especially after the age of 14, when transition plans are developed.
The IEP Team will consider the MDT recommendations and decide if a disability exists. If the student has a disability, the IEP Team will arrange services for the student. It will then prepare an IEP based on the student's needs.
The general education teacher is an essential member of both the MDT and IEP Team. A valid decision about the student cannot be made without information from the general education teacher.
|WHAT IS AN IEP AND HOW DOES IT AFFECT THE STUDENT?
A student's Individual Education Plan documents the student's needs and special provisions necessary for the student to be successful in school. An IEP includes statements of the student's current strengths and needs, long term goals, short term objectives, and specific services to be provided. The IEP will also contain statements related to the amount of time the student will participate in regular education activities, the justification for special education services, and modifications needed to support the student in the general education classroom. The IEP must show that the student is in the least restrictive (most nearly average) environment possible to meet the student's learning needs. The IEP lists the persons responsible for delivering the special education services. This may include general education and special education teachers in collaboration. The IEP Team must review and update the IEP at least annually.
Once developed, the IEP becomes a guide for that student's education, though changes can be made as needed. A student who is included in a general education class, but cannot meet the requirements may have extra assistance, an adapted curriculum, or an alternative grading scale. The special education teacher is a resource for the general educator.
Grade modifications include Pass/Fail options, grades based on effort, or grades based on how well the student met the IEP goals. This last option is especially useful for students whose class placement is not primarily for academic reasons, but to learn more appropriate school behaviors. Modified grades can be entered with a special code to distinguish them from regular grades.
WHAT ARE RELATED SERVICES?
In addition to academic assistance, a student may receive speech and/or language therapy, adaptive PE, occupational therapy, physical therapy, counseling, vocational training, self-help assistance and special transportation. These are known as related services.