Welcome to the Special Education Department. We know how challenging it can be to find resources to help your child with special needs succeed in school. We also know that there are so many rights, rules, regulations, forms, and jargon that it can be intimidating for parents and difficult to understand everything that is going on.
Our goal is to provide you answers and resources to help make your experience with your child a positive one. If you ever have any questions about the services your child receives, or if you feel your child should be receiving services, please give us a call. We are always happy to help you.
Specific Learning Disabilities Eligibility Process
The identification of specific learning disabilities emphasizes the examination of the whole child. This examination is a process of data collection that includes multiple methods of assessing student performance with input from parents, teachers, instructional specialists, and school psychologists. The purpose of the evaluation is to surround the student of concern with the best and most comprehensive information possible to make valid and appropriate recommendations as to the student’s eligibility for special education and, more importantly, educationally relevant recommendations for instructional strategies, supports, and services.
The following are essential components to be examined as part of the process of identification of a specific learning disability:
Begin with considerations of Instructional Quality: Federal law requires schools to ensure that students are provided with appropriate, evidence-based instruction delivered by a qualified teacher. The model begins with considerations as to the provision of quality instruction delivered by qualified teachers.
Level of Proficiency State Standards: Student progress in learning state standards is a fundamental consideration for instructional planning and for understanding student educational performance levels. The team considers the student’s level of proficiency with state standards as measured by state assessments and/or district benchmarking assessments.
Rate/Level of Progress: Data representing repeated measure of student performance provided to parents at regular intervals are required to determine the probability of a specific learning disability. Repeated measures of student rate/level of progress may include progress monitoring data, benchmark assessments, classroom assessments, or other measures that occur at reasonable intervals.
Response to Intervention: Staff must document observation and interventions, whether formalized in school procedures or through teacher efforts to provide supplementary instruction, with attention to the fidelity of the efforts to impact student achievement.
Exclusionary Factors: Before making attribution of disability within the student, the team must consider all other factors that could explain the performance patterns and the lack of student response to instruction. The team must consider the student’s progress in the context of his/her opportunity, past experience, sensory, health, language, culture, and developmental challenges.
Diagnostic Achievement Testing: The comprehensive evaluation of the student must include normative measures to advance the understanding of why the student continues to have difficulty. The student must also be tested with an individually administered standardized achievement test to validate the samples of classroom assessment data with normative data.
Cognitive Testing: Before applying a categorical label to a student, the study of abilities must include testing of intelligence skills to identify patterns of strength and weakness that may further elucidate understanding of the student’s learning difficulties.
Goodness of Fit to SLD Patterns: The test data are analyzed relative to research-based clinical profiles of learning disabilities to determine a goodness of fit with existing models of learning disabilities. The team considers the relationships between areas of strength and area of deficit as they relate to our most current understanding of specific learning disabilities.