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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 153
Description: E-Learning Modules The VDOE offers free online learning experiences, or modules, that address a variety of topics in Special Education and Student Services. Certificates of completion are available for some learning modules. The VDOE does NOT maintain a copy of participant scores or proof of participation. Special Education Resources The Federal and State definition of special education and specially designed instruction are: "Special education" means specially designed instruction, at no cost...
Description: Guide to Transition for Families of Youth with Disabilities in Virginia: When young people move from high school to adulthood, a lot of things change. It’s an exciting but also stressful time and we want to help. The Guide is for families and students who want a one-stop resource on the many things related to transitioning from high school to adulthood in Virginia. The Guide provides important information about decisions that may need to be made for and with your child. Topics Include:...
Description: This guide was compiled by the Virginia Tech Autism Clinic (VTAC) & Center for Autism Research (CAR).  It aims to improve the quality of life for individuals with autism and their families through intervention, education, and research directed towards effective treatments and supports.
Description: This booklet defines Special Education Terms (Birth to 22) as well as General Disabilty Terms.
Description: Digital Portfolio for Families (2022)-  PEATC’s Digital Portfolio allows parents and guardians of individuals with disabilities the ability to organize personal, educational, medical, and legal information and documentation in a portable digital format. The portfolio provides users with easy access, reduced stress, no more binders, and less paperwork to store. Digital Portfolio for Military Families (2022)-  PEATC’s Digital Portfolio for Military Families allows service...
Description: Military children have to regularly deal with situations their civilian counterparts find hard to understand and difficult to imagine. Through today’s media, people are aware of the deployments military families experience and the moving, emotional homecoming at the end of 6-12 months or more of being apart. What they don’t get to see is the group of 8-year-olds shooting hoops outside suddenly stop and stand at attention when the solemn song of  “Taps” plays at the...
Description: The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) Department of Special Education and Student Services (SESS) is responsible for general supervision and monitoring the implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in accordance with the provisions at 34 CFR 300.604(a)(1), and (a)(3), (b)(2)(i) and (b)(2)(v), and (c)(2) and the Regulations Governing Special Education Programs for Children with Disabilities in Virginia, 8 VAC 20-80. Consistent with these requirements, VDOE has...
Description: Transition planning is used to describe the very intentional, organized and coordinated process of guiding young people with disabilities with education, experiences, supports and services to help them have successful and meaningful lives beyond high school. It is planning that begins with the end in mind. While IDEA mandates specific documentation of transition planning and services in the Individualized Education Program (IEP) for students with disabilities ages 16 and older, the mandated age...
Description: As students who have IEPs get older and progress through school, his/her special education program is required to focus more intentionally on preparing that student for life after high school. In Virginia, this school transition planning must begin by age 14, but can begin even earlier. For students, and their families, the thought of TRANSITIONING from school services to the adult world can be overwhelming. Many are unsure of what is meant by transition services and wonder how to...
Description: In 2021, the Virginia General Assembly passed several pieces of legislation that necessitated revisions to the Regulations Governing Special Education Programs for Children with Disabilities in Virginia (8 VAC 20-81-20 et seq.) (the Virginia Regulations). Accordingly, on September 23, 2021, the Virginia Board of Education approved the revisions to be effective November 24, 2021.
Description: The 2021 General Assembly passed House Bill 2182 requiring the Board of Education to amend the regulatory definition of “traumatic brain injury (TBI)” in 8VAC20-81-10 to read as follows: “Traumatic brain injury” means an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force or by other medical conditions, including stroke, anoxia, infectious disease, aneurysm, brain tumors, and neurological insults resulting from medical or surgical treatments, resulting in...
Description: Video Module 1: Welcome and Introduction Video Module 2: Key Facts about Special Education Video Module 3: An Overview of the Student Support Process Video Module 4: The Special Education Process Video Module 5: The Role of the Family
Description: This series was designed to support the engagement of families in the special education process, share information, encourage advocacy skills, and foster collaborative home-school partnerships which positively impact student success. Created by a design team that included family and staff members, you can observe the journey of one family as they navigate their emotions, learn about special education, and make decisions. (The video is provided in Spanish with closed captions in English.)
Description: This self-paced tutorial has been developed for parents and professionals who are just beginning to learn about CVI.  In this tutorial you will view interviews with parents, engage in web searches to expand your resources, and view presentations related to each module’s topic.  Along the way, you will build an individualized action plan for your child to address Diagnosis Assessment Intervention Teamwork / collaboration IEP Development Advocacy This workshop is available in an...
Description: This One-Pager Library contains important information for families, including the difference between IEPs and 504 Plans, handling disagreements about your child's special education program, your Parental Rights and more.
Description: This includes recordings of webinar presentations and accompanying materials on a range of topics sponsored by Formed Families Forward (FFF) including: Back to School Improving Organization and Study Skills Screen-Savvy Parenting Collaborative Problem Solving with Agency Partners Special Education Eligibility And many more
Description: The Translating Evidence to Support Transitions (TEST) project has created a series of practice guides to increase the use and adoption of 3 research-informed practices for the transition planning of high school students with emotional behavioral disturbance (EBD) who receive special education services: student-led IEP meetings, community agency representation at IEP meetings, and concentrations of CTE coursework along career pathways. Supporting Student-Led Transition Planning for Students with...
Description: Over the past year, many students have experienced entirely virtual and remote learning and many—especially students with disabilities—will need additional support, time, and teaching to get the high quality education they deserve. Students have missed out on opportunities to learn and develop during the pandemic. In response, the federal government is providing billions of dollars to address “instructional loss”. While states, districts, and schools pilot new approaches...
Description: What are the keys to successful, student-centered IEPs? It starts with strong collaboration and communication among the entire team—administrators, teachers, parents and caregivers, service providers, and students. This team must also have access to accurate, up-to-date performance data throughout the IEP cycle. This informative infographic provides a quick reference to guide team members through each stage  
Description: Limitations of Applied Studies Diploma: Not equivalent to a standard diploma, Difficult to change to other diploma options once pursued, May not qualify a child for higher education, federal financial aid and some employment opportunities, Eligible for FAPE through the age of 22. Available only for children with disabilities: Complete the requirements of their IEP, Do not meet requirements for Standard or Advanced Studies Diploma.
Description: The Critical Decision Points for Families of Children with Disabilities (Word) guide was developed in order to assist families of children with disabilities with understanding keys to their children's academic success, as well as decisions that they will have to make throughout their children's careers in public education.  Information is provided that will assist parents with understanding not only what decisions will need to be made, but also when those decisions need to start being...
Description: The purpose of these guidelines is to provide resources and suggestions to enhance the provision of services to students who are deaf and hard of hearing in order to support their educational goals. These guidelines are written for special and general education administrators, teachers of students who are deaf and hard of hearing (referred to by Virginia teacher licensure regulations as HI teachers and generally referred to as teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing-TODHH), general educators,...
Description: The COVID-19 pandemic caused significant learning disruption. School divisions had to make decisions about closures, types of instruction (virtual instruction, hybrid instruction, in-person). Students with disabilities may need additional services and supports to regain skills lost as a result of decreased instructional time, lack of access to modifications, accommodations, or technology, etc. Even though school systems are not at fault for pandemic disruptions, students with disabilities are...
Description: This module offers an overview of assistive technology (AT) with a focus on students with high-incidence disabilities such as learning disabilities and ADHD. It explores the consideration process, implementation, and evaluation of AT for these students (est. completion time: 2.5 hours).
Description: This webinar will introduce participants to the fundamental concepts of Self-Determination for students with autism and related disabilities. We will discuss how to teach these concepts, Power-Standards for IEP goals, how to include students in the IEP process, and other strategies for supporting students with developing their self-determination skills. The presenter will be accompanied by student members of a self-determination club. Self-advocates are encouraged to participate.
Description: Special Education page includes: News & Announcements Introduction Featured Resources Special Topics Information for Parents Specific Disabilities Resolvint Disputes Early Childhood Special Education Secondary Transition IEP & Instruction Private Day & Residential Schools Funding, Law & Reports Technical Assistance & Professional Development Resources
Description: How to Support Students in Virtual IEP Meetings (District Administration) Nine ways to help students with disabilities to feel comfortable and meaningfully participate in IEP meetings held remotely this fall. Send documents home for student and parent to review. Seek information before the meeting Ensure all participants use their camera. And more... Bringing Student Voice Into IEP Conversation (Edutopia) One specific area of concern and focus is students with individualized education programs,...
Description: Considerations for COVID Recovery Services for Students with Disabilities (Virginia Department of Education, VDOE) Virtual IEP Meeting Tip Sheets (A Collaborative Effort Across OSEP-Funded Projects) Virtual Meetings: Strategies, Tips and Resources (The Center for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education, CADRE) Resources for Families and Students (Progress Center: Promoting Progress for Students with Disabilities) IEP Accommodations During Distance Learning (Understood.org) Virtual...
Description: The coronavirus pandemic is bringing new challenges to special education and distance learning. One of the biggest challenges is how to implement accommodations for students who have an Individualized Education Program (IEP). To make accommodations work in an online setting, you’ll need some innovative thinking and an understanding of the tools available to you and your students. Take a look at the charts below for some examples of how commonly used accommodations can transfer to a virtual...
Description: As we get this new school year underway in Virginia, the Virginia Department of Education's (VDOE's) resource page for families is continually being updated.  Please check back often for the most up-to-date information. This page includes: Family Resources Parent Guide Youth in Foster Care during School Closures due to COVID-19 Military Families Families of Students with Disabilities Guidance from the Department of Special Education & Student Services Virtual IEP Meeting Tip...
Description: Project SUCCESS provides current, research-based resources and professional development related to content standards, instructional design, and student outcomes and is specifically designed to meet the needs of students with significant intellectual disabilities. We are building local capacity to ensure that students with significant intellectual disabilities achieve increasingly higher academic outcomes and leave high school ready for post-secondary options. Project SUCCESS is a member of the...
Description: Family participation is an essential feature of the development and implementation of high-quality educational programming for students with disabilities. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates that families, and students when appropriate, participate in the development, monitoring, and the implementation of individualized education program (IEP). Although this participation is a legal requirement, collaborative partnerships between families and school personnel also...
Description: This document was developed to provide support to school administrators and directors of special education as they plan for return to school, special educators and parents who will be participating in Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings, and for Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) and families that may be navigating a dispute. This document highlights information related to compliance, documentation and progress monitoring, and IEP Team considerations that are necessary in order to...
Description: Circumstances may prohibit participants from attending special education meetings in person. In these situations, technology allows one or all of the individuals to participate through the Internet or telephone. Many types of meetings can occur virtually, including IEP meetings, mediations, resolution sessions, and due process hearings. While each of these types of meetings is unique, virtual meetings share common traits and considerations. Here we have collected resources, tips and...
Description: This resource was developed in response to requests from state and local educational agencies and parents about how to hold and participate in virtual individualized education program (IEP) meetings. While intended to meet a need during the current COVID-19 pandemic, we hope the content will have broader application. Contents: A Collaborative Effort Across OSEP-Funded Projects Virtual IEP Meetings: Technology Tips for All Participants Hosting Virtual IEP Meetings: Tips for Success Common...
Description: The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) cares about the well-being of both you and your child, especially as we face the COVID-19 pandemic. We are all in this together and our first priority is to keep our families and ourselves safe by seeking out meaningful supports. We should make every effort to stay positive and patient with one another and be compassionate in the understanding that everyone--administrators, teachers, students, and families--are going through this together. Please...
Description: We are committed to reaching all families, including traditionally underserved families who face additional obstacles in accessing special education and disability services in Virginia. We strive to provide parents with the tools, information, and resources needed to effectively navigate special education and become their child’s best advocate.
Description: The K-12 Inclusive Practices Guide is an informational resource to support school divisions and parents looking to improve outcomes for students with disabilities by meeting their needs to the maximum extent possible in general education setting.
Description: The purpose of this discussion guide is to help IEP teams make informed decisions about whether intervener services are appropriate for a particular student.    Why Intervener Services May Be Needed Students who are deaf-blind have absent, partial, or distorted vision and hearing. Deaf-blindness severely limits access to visual and auditory information that forms the basis for learning and communication and creates challenges for educational systems mandated to provide a free and...
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. Use the options and paths below to find out more about: who decides placement; how they decide it; what LRE is and why it’s a foundation element in IDEA and in deciding a child’s placement; and how placement can be affected if a child...
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. The evaluation process is guided by requirements in Part B of our...
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: 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: Module 1 welcomes everyone to Part C of IDEA—the early intervention program for infants and toddlers with disabilities. With these training materials, you can learn about and provide training on: the 8 basic steps in the early intervention process; 7 acronyms used in early intervention and what they mean; and 9 key terms in early intervention and their definitions.
Description: About the Training Curriculum 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...
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: The One-Pager is a simple tool to help provide important information about you. There are four categories: My Strengths My Preferences My Interests My Needs You identify what goes in these categories (with assistance from parents, teachers, etc.) to introduce yourselves to new teachers, employers, case managers, and others in your support system to clarify your needs and goals based on your strengths and interests. How to Use the One-Pager Use the app, fill out the template, or print it out! The...
Description: This section includes a compilation links to resources on: Employers Employment Supports Accessible Technology Communication Access Emergency Preparedness Flexible Work Arrangements Health Care Housing Personal Assistance Services Transportation Universal Design Individuals Other Topics  Apprenticehips Autism HIV/AIDS Mental Health Workforce System Customized Employment Integrated Employment Employment First