Evaluation, Eligibility, & Individualized Education Programs
Evaluation & Eligibility
Early Childhood Special Education: Services delivered to preschool aged children from age two (whose birthday falls on or before September 30) through five who experience a disability and require special education. Educators, along with the child's family, develop an individualized education program (IEP) with goals and objectives to meet the child’s developmental needs. The goals and objectives include a variety of skills and/or activities for the child to learn and use consistently.
Preschoolers may be found eligible for Early Childhood Special Education services under one or more of 14 disability categories, which are defined in the federal and state regulations:
- emotional disability
- hearing impairment
- learning disability
- intellectual disability
- multiple disabilities
- orthopedic impairment
- other health impairment
- speech or language impairment
- traumatic brain injury
- visual impairment / blindness
- developmental delay
Read more about developmental delay..."Developmental delay" means a disability affecting a child ages two by September 30 through six, inclusive: (34 CFR 300.8(b);[ 34 CFR 300.306(b)])
- (i) Who is experiencing developmental delays, as measured by appropriate diagnostic instruments and procedures, in one or more of the following areas: physical development, cognitive development, communication development, social or emotional development, or adaptive development, or (ii) who has an established physical or mental condition that has a high probability of resulting in developmental delay;
- The delay(s) is not primarily a result of cultural factors, environmental or economic disadvantage, or limited English proficiency; and
- The presence of one or more documented characteristics of the delay has an adverse affect on educational performance and makes it necessary for the student to have specially designed instruction to access and make progress in the general educational activities for this age group.
Local school divisions determine the criteria for being found eligible for services under the developmental delay category.
Special Education Process
The determination that a child is eligible for special education and related services shall be made on an individual basis. When completing the Eligibility Process, the local educational agency shall: a. Draw upon information from a variety of sources, including aptitude and achievement tests, parent input and teacher recommendations, as well as information about the child’s physical condition, social or cultural background, and adaptive behavior; and b. Ensure that information from all these sources is documented and carefully considered. Below, you will find online resources that address the components of the special education process.
- Guidance on Evaluation and Eligibility for the Special Education Process (Word) – This Guidance Document provides information on the federal and state regulatory requirements and best practices for the Evaluation and Eligibility Process.
- Guidance on Evaluation and Eligibility for the Special Education Process – This document provides sample forms to complete the Eligibility Process and assist the eligibility team in applying criteria for students who are being considered for eligibility.
- VDOE TTAC Online Special Education Process – This webpage presents specific resources that address the components of the Special Education Process.
- Special Education Acronym Handbook (PDF) – This document defines and clarifies the definitions of acronyms routinely found in legislation and policy.
- Extended School Year Services (PDF) – This document provides information on the federal and state regulatory requirements and best practices for Extended School Year (ESY) Services.
Individualized Education Program (IEP)
The services and placement of students with disabilities who need special education are developed through an Individualized Education Program (IEP), which is the responsibility of local public school divisions. Special education is specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability. Specially designed instruction means adapting, the content, methodology, or delivery of instruction to address the unique needs of the student that result from the child's disability; and to ensure access of the child to the general curriculum, so that the child can meet the educational standards that apply to all children.
There are federal and state requirements for the IEP team and content, which are provided in the Regulations Governing Special Education Programs for Children with Disabilities in Virginia (PDF)
Learn more about the components of the Individualized Education Program