How to Determine Your Child’s Eligibility for Special Education

By: JoAnn Collins

Are you the parent of a young child that is concerned that your child may have a disability? Have you been told by disability educators that your child does not qualify for special education services? Would you like to know what the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) law states about a child’s eligibility for special education? This article will discuss the criteria that school personnel must use, by law to determine a child’s eligibility.

In order for a child to be found eligible for special education services they must meet two criteria, according to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act;

1. The child must have a disability, and
2. The child must have educational needs.

In order for special education personnel to determine if a child is eligible, they must conduct a psychological evaluation called a Case Study Evaluation on the child. Below is a list of important things parents must know about the CSE:

a. The parent must give written consent for this to be done.

b. Special education personnel have sixty days from when the parental consent is signed, to finish evaluation.

c. IDEA requires that more than one assessment tool be used; to gather all of the academic, developmental, functional, information needed to determine if the child has a disability.

d. Special education personnel must also assess the child in all areas of suspected disability.

e. They must use assessment tools that provide important information that assists them in determining the child’s educational needs.

f. If your child has behavioral issues that affect his or her education, ask for testing in this area. For Example: A behavioral checklist, an adaptive behavior scale, possible an autism rating scale, etc.

After the Case Study Evaluation is complete an eligibility meeting is held between the special education personnel and the parents. The meeting is to go over the test results, and to determine the child’s eligibility for special education services. The parent is to be an equal part of the team that determines if a child has a disability, and if they have educational needs. Parents may bring information on their child to help the team make the decision. In case of behavioral difficulty, specific things must be done to include, developement of a positive behavioral plan.

If a child has a disability and educational needs, and does not receive special education services, their lives may be negatively affected. By knowing what criteria special education personnel are required to use by law, you can become an effective advocate for your child.


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