Special Education Services
Special Education is specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability.
"Specially designed instruction" means adapting, as appropriate to the needs of an eligible child, the content, methodology, or delivery of instruction:
- Address the unique needs of the child that result from the child's disability; and
- Ensure access of the child to the general curriculum, so that the child can meet the educational standards that apply to all children within the jurisdiction of the local educational agency.
In general, special education services provide specially designed instruction that involves modifications to the curriculum itself and/or the way the curriculum is taught to meet the specific needs of the student. Other special education-related services may include speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, or physical therapy. These are just a few of the related services that could be provided through an Individualized Education Program (IEP).
Child Find is a component of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that requires school systems to identify, locate, and evaluate all children with disabilities, between the ages of birth to 21, who are in need of early intervention or special education services. Anyone who suspects that a child has a disability should refer that child to determine eligibility to receive early intervention or special education and related services.
A parent or school personnel may request an evaluation of a child at any time by writing to the child’s principal or the local special education administrator. A written request documents your referral and starts the referral time line. The referring source must explain the reasons that an evaluation is requested and any efforts that have been made to address the concerns. Screening and assessment must be completed prior to identifying a student as eligible for special education.
The eligibility of a student for special education and related services is based on a comprehensive evaluation process. This process shall begin when there is a concern regarding a child’s educational performance and a disability is suspected. The parents of the student, the student's teacher, the school administrator, a team of qualified special education professionals, and other professionals who work with the student participate in the evaluation process to determine whether the student has a disability and is in need of special education and related services.
This process includes a review of information provided by parents, information such as work samples or test scores that may indicate how well the student understands the curriculum, observation reports by educational professionals, teacher information, and other relevant information. If, based on a review of this information, the team suspects a disability, parent permission to assess the child to determine the presence of a disability will be requested.
An IEP team will reconvene to review the results of the agreed upon assessments and will determine, based on that information and other information available to the team, if the child is eligible for Special Education. The team will use CCPS Eligibility Tools for the suspected disability/disabilities to guide the discussion and inform the decision regarding eligibility.
A Child with a Disability or Student with a Disability means a child evaluated in accordance with the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) as meeting the criteria listed for autism, deaf-blindness, developmental delay, emotional disability, hearing impairment, intellectual disability, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, other health impairment, specific learning disability, speech or language impairment, traumatic brain injury, or visual impairment. The identified disability must have an adverse effect on the student’s educational performance which requires specially designed instruction to remediate.
If the IEP team determines that a child is eligible for special education services, the team will draft an Individualized Education Program for the child. Commonly referred to as an IEP, an Individualized Education Program is a written plan that is designed for any student who receives special education and related services. IEPs are required for every special education student under IDEA. The IEP describes the goals that are set for the student over the course of the school year and spells out any special supports needed to help achieve those goals. Parents are an important part of the IEP process.
In time, a student may no longer need special education services and may exit from a special education program. The IEP team must conduct an evaluation before determining that a student no longer requires special education services.
- What is an Individualized Education Program (IEP)?
- What is included in my child's IEP?
- How do I know if my child is making progress on their IEP goals?
Commonly referred to as an IEP, an Individualized Education Program is a written plan that is designed for any student who receives special education and related services. IEPs are required for every special education student under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA. The IEP describes the goals that are set for the student over the course of the school year and spells out any special supports needed to help achieve those goals. Parents are an important part of the IEP process.
The Maryland IEP Process Guide provides an overview of each section of the Maryland IEP. Below are brief descriptions of the different sections of the IEP that will be reviewed at an IEP team meeting.
Present Levels of Performance
The Present Levels of Performance describe the unique needs of the child that will be addressed by special education and related services, and to establish a baseline of measurable information that serves as the starting point for developing goals and objectives.
IDEA requires that students with disabilities take part in state or district-wide assessments. The IEP team must decide if a child needs accommodations in testing or another type of assessment entirely. In this component of the IEP, the team documents how the child will participate.
Supplementary Aids and Services
Supplementary aids and services are intended to improve children’s access to learning and their participation across the spectrum of academic, extracurricular, and nonacademic activities and settings. The IEP team must determine what supplementary aids and services a child will need and specify them in the IEP.
Beginning no later than a student’s 14th birthday (or younger, if appropriate), the IEP must contain transition-related plans designed to help the student prepare for life after secondary school.
Once a child’s needs are identified, the IEP team works to develop appropriate goals to address those needs. Annual goals describe what the child is expected to do or learn within a 12-month period.
Objectives describe the steps as to how your child will reach his or her annual goals. Objectives are developed and scaffolded based on the student’s instructional needs and will support the student achieving progress in meeting the annual goals.
Special Education and Related Services
This is where the details are specified about the services that a child with a disability will receive in order to address each annual goal. The service delivery statement in the IEP includes:
· how often the child will receive the service(s) (number of times per day or week);
· how long each “session” will last (number of hours/minutes)
· where services will be provided (in the general education classroom or another setting such as a special education resource room); and
· when services will begin and end (starting and ending dates).
Least Restrictive Environment
Your child's Individual Education Program (IEP) team is responsible for determining the most appropriate educational placement in the least restrictive environment (LRE) that can meet his or her educational needs. Many factors go into that decision, such as:
· your child's ability to focus;
· the type of skills he or she needs to learn;
· how much individually designed instruction he or she needs; and
· other education issues unique to your child.
Choosing the appropriate LRE is important to ensure that your child receives the instruction he or she needs, and federal special education regulations require that students with disabilities must be educated in the least restrictive environment. The LRE is not any specific placement. Rather, it is the most appropriate placement for a child that is chosen from a range of options. All decisions regarding the placement of a child with a disability in a special education service delivery model will be made by the child’s IEP team in consultation with the parents or guardians of the child and consistent with the LRE requirements of the IDEA.
Each child’s IEP must contain a description of how his or her progress toward meeting the annual goals will be measured. The child’s service providers will measure the child’s progress toward the annual goals, as stated in the IEP, and regularly inform the parents of their child’s progress and whether that progress is sufficient for the child to achieve the annual goals by the end of the IEP year. These progress reports will be given to the parents at least as often as parents are informed of their nondisabled children’s progress.
Decisions regarding the type of special education services to be provided and the educational placement for the provision of such services are based upon a student's individual need. Students with disabilities are educated in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) that is most appropriate for them.
All decisions regarding the placement of a child with a disability in a special education service delivery model are made by the child’s IEP team in consultation with the parents or guardians of the child and consistent with the LRE requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). A variety of special education service delivery models are available beginning with full participation in the general education classroom to the extent possible, often with the provision of supplementary aids and support , as determined by the IEP team.
Related Services are support services that may be required to assist a student with a disability to benefit from his or her special education program. If a student does not need special education, related services cannot be provided through an IEP by themselves. The student's related service needs are part of the IEP, which will specify the amount and type of service the student is to receive. Related services may include counseling services, speech or language, and hearing, transportation, assistive technology, physical and occupational therapy. Related services are available on a continuum of service delivery models, which include: consultation, classroom collaboration and/or therapy, and small group and individual therapy.
CCPS also has regional programs at the elementary, middle, and high school level to service populations of students whose needs are more significant than can be met at a comprehensive school. Decisions regarding placement at a regional program are made by an IEP team along with Central Office personnel.
For those students whose educational needs require services beyond those of the county's regional or separate day facilities, the CCPS utilizes Maryland State Department of Education approved nonpublic schools. When the nature and severity of the student's disability significantly impacts education performance this may necessitate more intensive resources and may require a more therapeutic setting in order for a student to receive an appropriate educational program.