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Special Education Process

Is your child Eligible for Special Education Services? When parents or educators notice that a child might need additional support, they can refer the child for possible eligibility for special education. This page offers specific resources to help you through the beginning steps of the Special Education Process.
  • Referral ⁄ Evaluation ⁄ Eligibility
  • Individualized Education Program ⁄ Individual Family Service Plan - The Individualized Education Program (IEP) describes the special education and related services designed to meet the unique needs of a child with disabilities. Parents, school personnel, and often the student receiving special education services develop the IEP jointly. This page provides resources to help develop an effective and appropriate IEP.
  • Instruction & Monitoring - Once a student has an IEP, instruction can begin. This page provides information and resources to help you monitor your child's instruction and progress to ensure that the instructional plans outlined in the IEP are followed.
You may also want to visit the FAQ about Special Education.
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Showing Results 1 - 50 of 220
Description: A new school year means a new grade, new teachers, new goals, and maybe even a new school! In order to help you and your child with special needs be as successful as you can be, we’ve put together a list of eight helpful back-to-school tips that we hope will make the transition into a new school year a little easier for you and your child. 1. Organize all that paperwork. In the world of special education, there are lots of meetings, paperwork, and documentation to keep track of. Try to...
Description: Evaluation is an essential beginning step in the special education process for a child with a disability. Before a child can receive special education and related services for the first time, a full and individual initial evaluation of the child must be conducted to see if the child has a disability and is eligible for special education. Informed parent consent must be obtained before this evaluation may be conducted.
Description: Where will a student with a disability receive his or her special education and related services? IDEA requires placement in the least restrictive environment (LRE) for each child, a setting that is based on the child’s IEP.
Description: The nation’s special education law is called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA. As part of making special education and related services available to children with disabilities in the public schools, IDEA defines the term “child with a disability.” That definition includes specific disability terms, which are also defined by IDEA, as this webpage describes. The IDEA’s disability terms and definitions guide how States in their own turn define...
Description: Title |  Building the Legacy for Our Youngest Children with Disabilities: A Training Curriculum on Part C of IDEA 2004 By Whom? | This training curriculum was produced by NICHCY at the request of the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) at the U.S. Department of Education. The Center for Parent Information and Resources is pleased to house this curriculum and to make it continuously available. For Whom? |  The curriculum is intended to help all those involved with...
Description: Wherever you work, children come to you with gifts, curiosity, challenges, and needs.  They are small wonders, to be sure, and as full of diversity as society itself. And because disability is a natural part of life, it’s also likely that some of your little ones may have a disability or a developmental delay that can impact their learning and growth. As a child care provider or preschool teacher, you may even be among the first to notice a child’s difficulties or...
Description: The birth of a child is an exciting, life-changing event. A beautiful new baby comes to your house, family, and neighborhood. It is a time for celebration. But what happens when this new child has a disability? What if there are health problems? What if, as time goes by, it seems as if the child isn’t learning and progressing as quickly or easily as other children? What do you do? CPIR offers a suite of resource pages that can help you find answers and people who can...
Description: In drafting the provisions of IDEA, our nation’s special education law, Congress clearly contemplated that, at times, there would be disagreements between parents of children with disabilities and the school districts providing special education and related services to their children. While it is expected that parents and school personnel will work in partnership to ensure children with disabilities are provided appropriate services, there are times when the child’s parents and...
Description: Early intervention is full of terms that people constantly use in writing and in conversation, and it’s important to know what those terms mean. We are pleased to provide this handy reference to early intervention terminology, and hopes it helps our readers quickly connect with the meaning of pivotal words and phrases in the field.
Description: Module 1 welcomes everyone to Part C of IDEA—the early intervention program for infants and toddlers with disabilities.
Description: The education of children with disabilities is a top national priority. Our nation’s special education law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), sets high standards for their achievement and guides how special help and services are made available in schools to address their individual needs.
Description: Think about a time when you really wanted someone – a teacher – to know stuff about you but you really didn’t want to have to take the time and the words to explain it. Think about your IEP.  How long does it take for anyone to look at it and find out the important things about you? The One-Pager was created as a way to cut through all of that paper and get at the important stuff quickly and all on one page. What it is The One-Pager is a simple tool to help provide...
Description: This section includes a compilation links to resources on: Benefits Civil Rights Community Life Education Employment Emergency Preparedness Housing Technology Transportation  
Description: This section provides information on assessment and eligibility determination guidelines to special education professionals who work with English Learners. These guidelines can be used where traditional evaluation procedures may not be appropriate and are based on specific aspects of diversity such as race, culture, the acculturation process, high mobility among families and poverty rates. This includes “Effective Communication with English Learner Parents through an...
Description: Being a parent is the most wonderful—and hardest—job in the world. If you have a child with special needs, your job is no less wonderful, but it can be more complicated. Your child’s education is most likely an area of great interest to you. As a child with a disability, he or she may be eligible for special education services in school. If so, then it will be important for you to learn: more about special education; how special education services can support your child; and...
Description: AT Consideration Guide App: IDEA (1997) added the requirement that each IEP team consider the need for assistive technology as part of the Consideration of Special Factors. IEP teams must also document their consideration of assistive technology in the IEP plan. The consideration guide is to assist school divisions in developing a process for consideration of AT in the IEP process. (Free)
Description: Children’s Challenging Behaviors is a six-hour workshop for parents of children and youth with mental health needs. In this workshop, a trained and experienced parent provides information to help parents understand typical behaviors versus challenging behaviors that require intervention. Parents learn when and how to seek help, develop parenting strategies, learn the ins and outs of special education and other educational supports, and discover community resources available to families and...
Description: Individualized Education Program (IEP): Summary, Process and Practical Tips from Goodwin Procter LLP After months of research, a team of lawyers at Goodwin Procter LLP has generously put together a helpful guide to help families understand the IEP process as their loved ones head back to school: Individualized Education Program (IEP): Summary, Process and Practical Tips. This guide contains an IEP timeline and clearly lays out the steps to take throughout the IEP process. Questions answered...
Description: Fourteen invaluable tools — checklists, charts, worksheets, letters, parent-teacher conversation starters, and more — to help you and your child team up with teachers for a successful school year. Dear Teacher, Please Meet My Child: A Sample Letter for Parents What I Wish My Teachers Knew About Me: A Free Template for Kids What Every Teacher Should Know About ADHD: A Free Handout Help Your Child’s Peers ‘Get’ ADHD: A Free Guide for Parents 7 Parent-Teacher...
Description: My Parent Journey blog post by Jon Morin Apr 27, 2017 Because of our older son’s high test scores and big vocabulary, his teachers have often suggested that he be placed in gifted and talented (GT) classes. But since he also has issues with executive functioning, social skills and learning, it’s not that simple. Back when he was 8, my son got his first IEP. The school recommended that he be placed in a self-contained class to help with his meltdowns and difficult behavior. Although...
Description: Student-directed IEPs are quickly gaining momentum in schools across the country—the proven benefits include higher academic achievement, enhanced student motivation, and increased communication and self-advocacy skills for students with disabilities. Now for the first time, there's a book that gives elementary and high school educators in-depth how-to guidance on making student-directed IEPs work for students with a range of special needs. Packed with practical advice, helpful examples,...
Description: The mission of Virginia's public education system is to educate students in the fundamental knowledge and academic subjects that they need to become capable, responsible, and self-reliant citizens. Therefore, the mission of the Virginia Board of Education and the superintendent of public instruction, in cooperation with local school boards, is to increase student learning and academic achievement.
Description: The POWER (Parent Organizer With Educational Resources) web app provides parents and families with online resources to answer questions about child development, disabilities, community services, Special Education, diploma options in Virginia and transition to life after high school.  The questions and potential resources are separated into age levels: Early Childhood, Elementary School, Middle School and High School. This project is a collaborative effort between the Parent Resource...
Description: The Applied Studies Diploma is a diploma option available to students identified as having a disability who complete the requirements of their individualized education programs (IEPs) and meet certain requirements prescribed by the Board of Education pursuant to regulations, but do not meet the requirements for any named diploma. This includes a Webinar Series on the Applied Studies Diploma: Applied Studies Diploma Overview Applied Studies Diploma Part 2: The Curriculum Map Applied Studies...
Description: The Applied Studies Curriculum Map (PDF) is a set of skills and competencies that IEP teams can use to identify the need for additional instruction that the student will need to achieve their postsecondary goals. These skills are not standards or required to earn the Applied Studies Diploma, but provide guidance to teams in aligning the student’s transition goals with the goals outlined in the annual IEP. The Applied Studies Curriculum Map provides a guide in which teachers, students,...
Description: Watch the entire webinar or use the table of contents (on left) to select specific information on the various diploma options and their requirements. This interactive webinar also includes additional resources for more in-depth information. This video include the following sections: Welcome! Advanced Studies Diploma Standard Diploma Applied Studies Diploma Assessments Thank You!
Description: The Military Outreach program through the Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center (PEATC) was created to provide awareness and assistance to military families, and professionals that support them, in Virginia through various outreach activities; networking - attending meetings that support military families, exhibiting and presenting workshops –as well as interacting and assisting parents and professionals. The Military Outreach Initiative continues to demonstrate its mission –...
Description: The Working in Support of Education (W!SE) financial literacy credential is closely aligned to the required Economics and Personal Finance (EPF) course (6120) for all students.  Therefore, students who have successfully completed the EPF course in a previous semester or previous year but have not passed an industry certification examination to satisfy the Standard Diploma graduation requirement may take the W!SE test. Upon passing the W!SE test, these students will have met two graduation...
Description: The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) offers guidance on collaboration for parents, parent advocates, and school division personnel in this memo. Collaboration is the essential building block of creating successful outcomes for students with disabilities. The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) strongly encourages parents, parent advocates and professionals who work with students with disabilities throughout Virginia's public schools, to work together collaboratively in a positive...
Description: Age of majority is the age when children legally become adults. At this time, they gain the rights of adults, which include the right to vote, marry, apply for a credit card, make medical and financial decisions for themselves, sign contracts, live independently, and much more. In most states the age of majority is age 18. We invite you to read this tip sheet for parents to learn more about: Who decides the age of majority The age of majority in your state What the transfer of parental...
Description: From a student’s first day of school until the completion of his or her education, a significant number of educational decisions will have been made for or by that student. Until a student reaches the age of 18 (also called the “age of majority” in Virginia), most of those decisions are made by parents, family members, and/or guardians in consultation with teachers or education officials. The right of a person meeting the definition of parent under the Virginia Regulations, to...
Description: If you have just recently found out about your child’s hearing loss or know of a child who has been recently diagnosed with a hearing loss you are on the right track to finding more information for Virginia residents. Knowledge is power! Being informed in the area of deafness/hearing impairment and teaching your child or children with hearing losses to be independent is important.
Description: ATware Solutions, LLC. has been formed by a multidisciplinary team of people from several Virginia universities to produce a variety of apps that can be used by people with disabilities, or professionals and families assisting people with disabilities. All of these apps are free of charge.
Description: The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 2004 defines secondary transition as a coordinated set of activities designed to be within a results-oriented process, focused on improving the academic achievement and functional performance to facilitate movement from school to post-school activities. The purpose of transition planning for youth at ages 14 and 16 is similar; good planning should address academic achievement and functional performance that will facilitate movement from...
Description: Successful and meaningful transition services are the result of careful planning. This planning is driven by a young person’s dreams, desires, and abilities. It builds a youth’s participation in school, home and community living. Transition planning helps to prepare young people for their futures. It helps them to develop skills they need to go on to other education programs after high school. It builds skills to live, work, and play in the community. It helps to build independence....
Description: What are transition services?The term “transition services” means a coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability that are designed to be within a results-oriented process. The services focus on improving the academic and functional achievement of the child with a disability to facilitate the child’s movement from school to post-school activities. These activities include postsecondary education, vocational education, integrated employment (including supported...
Description: A Virginia high school diploma signifies that the bearer has met proficiency standards established by the Board of Education in reading, writing, mathematics, science and history. The resources listed here explain Virginia's graduation requirements and the many options now available to students for earning a high school diploma. You also will find information on how students can get even more out of their high school experience by accepting the challenge of advanced courses. Standard Diploma...
Description: Every child is unique and learns in different ways. If your child has been identified as needing special education services to support his or her learning at school, you can play a major role in shaping the services your child receives. This section will help you understand the Individualized Education Program (IEP) and the importance of your participation in developing your child’s IEP Plan. You are a required member of your child’s IEP team, and your ideas must always be considered...
Description: It is the intent of the Commonwealth of Virginia to include all students with disabilities in the assessment component of Virginia's accountability system. IDEA 2004 regulations require that all students with disabilities participate in the state's accountability system. Students with disabilities may participate in the Standards of Learning (SOL) assessments, Virginia Substitute Evaluation Program (VSEP) and Virginia Alternate Assessment Program (VAAP). When determining participation in...
Description: Your child’s IEP includes annual goals. And while her school will keep you updated on progress, you may want to keep track on your own, too. This IEP goal tracker can help you stay on top of your child’s IEP goals, her present level of performance and the progress she’s making. It can also help you keep track of questions or observations you might want to raise with the IEP team. A goal chart doesn’t have to be complicated. Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to...
Description: The I’m Determined project, a state directed project funded by the Virginia Department of Education, focuses on providing direct instruction, models, and opportunities to practice skills associated with self-determined behavior. This project facilitates youth, especially those with disabilities to undertake a measure of control in their lives, helping to set and steer the course rather than remaining the silent passenger. There are resources and videos for Educators, Parents and...
Description: This webinar presentation covers two aspects of Age of Majority issues presented by The disAbility Law Center of Virginia (dLCV): Social Security and Alternatives to Guardianship"Social Security: The Age 18 Re-determination and Related Topics", presented by Elizabeth HornSynopsis -Students on SSI as a child will be re-determined at age 18 based on the adult rules. How is the decision made, can benefits be extended, is working during this time recommended? What about applying for the first...
Description: If your child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP), IDEA guarantees your some important rights. The right to: Participate in IEP Meetings, An Independent Evaluation, Give (or Deny) Consent, Contest a School's Decision, and Private Education Paid by the Public School (in specific circumstances).
Description: The Center provides vocational training and medical interventions for people with disabilities to assist them in obtaining employment and to live more independently. In the more than two decades that I have been a part of the staff at the Center, I have been blessed to witness many extraordinary stories of our clients. In many instances, clients overcome significant obstacles and go on to achieve astounding accomplishments in their personal and professional lives. WWRC exists to provide the...
Description: The Virginia Family Special Education Connection Website provides Local Disability Services information for all of the Counties/Cities in the Commonwealth of Virginia. These services include: Arc (The Arc) Care Connection for Children (Health Department Program) Centers for Independent Living Child Development Services Program - Clinics Community Services Board (CSB) Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) Department of Social...
Description: Both Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and 504 plans can offer formal help for K–12 students with learning and attention issues. They’re similar in some ways but quite different in others. This resource compares them side-by-side to help you understand the differences.
Description: This site contains IEP Resources for Parents, including Understanding Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), Checklist: What to Consider When Developing Annual IEP Goals, At a Glance: Who's on the IEP Team, Checklist: What to Bring to the IEP Meeting, and more.
Description: This handbook is designed as a guide to help students take another step in for “life after high school.” While high school is an exciting time, you do after high school can be just as exciting if you have done some and thoughtful planning.
Description: The Office of Community Support for Military Families with Special Needs is pleased to provide the Department of Defense Special Needs Parent Tool Kit — Birth to 18. This tool kit provides information and resources that will help you improve your quality of life and teaches you how to advocate for your child with special needs. Each of the six modules addresses issues you are likely to encounter throughout your child’s life. Whether your child has been recently diagnosed with a...
Description: The Center on Technology and Disability (CTD) is funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). The Center is designed to increase the capacity of families and providers to advocate for, acquire, and implement effective assistive and instructional technology (AT/IT) practices, devices, and services.  Research-based technologies, used appropriately, have great potential to help infants, toddlers, children, and youth with...