Special education refers to a range of services that can be provided in different ways and in different settings to meet the needs of students with disabilities. The federal law that regulates special education is called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
It requires public schools to give special education services to students between the ages of three and 21 whose needs can’t be met within a traditional classroom environment.
Referral or request for evaluation
There are two main ways to identify a student who needs evaluation. The state can conduct “Child Find” activities to identify, locate and evaluate students with disabilities.
A school professional or parents may ask for a student to be evaluated. Parental consent is necessary before any student is evaluated and evaluation has to happen within a reasonable time after getting it. If students meet the requirements for special education, they receive special education programs and services at no cost to the parents.
SpedTrack’s Medicaid Billing software helps ensure that special education programs get the biggest return on the services they provide. When using SpedTrack’s Special Education solution paired with the Medicaid Billing solution, information will auto-populate, saving additional time when they send bills to Medicaid.
Evaluating the student
An evaluation has to assess every area related to a suspected disability. This decides a student’s eligibility and helps towards designing an appropriate educational program.
Parents can take a child for an independent evaluation if they disagree with the results and they can ask the school system to pay for it. Within 30 days of a child being determined eligible, a team must meet to write an Individualized Education Program (IEP). A re-evaluation must happen every three years or sooner if parents request this.
Scheduling a meeting
The school system has to schedule and conduct an IEP meeting. The school staff must contact all the participants and schedule the meeting at a time and place that’s suitable for them. The school must inform the parents about the purpose of the meeting and who will attend.
The parents may invite people with special expertise or knowledge about the child to attend. The child may also attend if it’s considered appropriate. Parents can ask for mediation if they don’t agree with the IEP and placement of the student.
Writing the Individualized Education Program (IEP)
The IEP document, mandated by the IDEA, clearly sets out reasonable learning goals for students with disabilities and states the services that the school district must provide for the child. IEPs are developed by a team that includes teachers, parents, and school support staff.
Providing the services
All the student’s teachers and service providers have access to the IEP and know their specific responsibilities, such as modifications and support they need to provide.
Most special education teachers require at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field, teaching licensure, and some experience so they know how to adapt lesson plans and create inclusive learning environments.
Measuring and reporting progress to parents
A student’s progress towards annual goals is measured and parents are kept informed of progress. Progress reports indicate whether the progress is sufficient to meet the goals by the end of the year.
Review of the IEP
The team needs to meet at least once a year to assess academic and development progress, design educational plans and make changes if necessary.
Parents must be invited to attend these meetings and can make suggestions for changes. They can discuss any of their concerns and they can’t reach an agreement, various options are available such as additional testing or asking for mediation.