Understanding Special Education

  • What is Special Education?

    Special education means specially designed instruction to meet the unique educational needs of a child with a disability.  It includes instruction; accommodations, modifications, and supports; and related services needed as determined by a child’s individualized education program team.  The parent is invited to participate as a team member.


    When parents, school staff, or friends notice that a student might need special help, they should give that information in writing to the school system.  A team will gather information and decide if an evaluation is needed. Information given by parents is very important.


    An evaluation is a careful look by a team of teachers and specialists at a student's abilities, strengths and areas of need.  It provides information about the student's educational needs and will also include information provided from the parents.


    In order for a student to receive special education services, the student must meet the criteria of one or more of the thirteen disability categories. At the eligibility meeting, a team of qualified professionals and the parents of the student make a decision as to whether or not a student meets the requirements to receive special education services.

    Individualized Education Program (IEP)

    An Individualized Education Program (IEP) describes the educational program that has been designed to meet that child's unique needs. Each child who receives special education and related services must have an IEP.  The IEP is developed in an IEP meeting with a group of individuals such as teachers, parents / guardians, administrators, related services personnel, and students (when appropriate) who work collaboratively to create a plan that provides meaningful benefit for the student with disability.

    Annual Review

    At least once a year, the IEP team meets to review /reviset he student’s IEP.


    At least every three years a student's eligibility is reviewed which may or may not involve new evaluations.