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Determining Eligibility for Special Education

Identifying students who are eligible for special education involves a comprehensive process. The criteria for identifying eligible students are set forth in the Federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 2004 (IDEA) and the MA Special Education Regulations. A multi-disciplinary Team of school personnel and parents make the final determination.

In order to be eligible for special education, as a result of the evaluation process, three questions must be answered by the Team.

Question 1

Does the student have a disability(ies)?

A disability is defined within the regulations as one or more of the following:

  • Autism
  • Developmental Delay
  • Intellectual Impairment
  • Sensory Impairment - Hearing
  • Sensory Impairment - Vision
  • Sensory Impairment-Deaf-Blind
  • Neurological
  • Emotional Impairment
  • Communication Impairment
  • Physical Impairment
  • Health Impairment
  • Specific Learning Disability

Question 2

If a student is found to have one or more of the disabilities above, the Team must then consider question 2, which is a two pronged question:

  • Is the student making effective progress?

and if not,

  • Is the lack of progress a result of the student's disability?

Question 3

Lastly, if the student is not making effective progress and the lack of progress is determined to be caused by the disability, the Team must then determine:

  • Does the student require specially designed instruction in order to make effective progress in school
  • And/or does the student require related services in order to access the general curriculum?

If the Team answers yes to all three questions, the student is eligible for special education. The Team moves to the next part of the process which is developing an Individual Education Program (IEP). Team determination of Placement is made AFTER the IEP is developed.