Knowing About Special Education
Special education provides specially designed services and programs for children with educational disabilities at no cost to parents or guardians. It is intended to meet individual needs and enhance strengths. Students and parents are introduced to special education in various ways. Some disabilities can be identified when children are very young. Others are not identified until children show difficulty in regular school programs. Special education programs and services are designed to assure that children with disabilities receive appropriate and equal opportunities for educational growth.
RELATED SERVICESRelated services include: speech therapy, physical and occupational therapy, counseling, services from the Teacher of the Deaf and Hearing Impaired, services from the Teacher of the Visually Impaired, parent counseling and training and school health services.
These regulations inform parents and school districts of procedures that must be followed for students who may be identified, or who are already classified, as having an educational disability. They also include the definitions of the thirteen handicapping conditions, responsibilities of the District, school and Committee on Special Education, the continuum of services, and parents due process rights.
Part 100 of the Commissioner’s Regulations
These regulations focus on elementary and secondary general education programs. According to Section 100.2(s),“Each student with a disability … shall have access to the full range of programs and services set forth in this Part to the extent that such programs and services are appropriate to such student’s special educational needs.”
THE SPECIAL EDUCATION PROCESS
The need for special education for students ages 5-21 is determined in the following manner:
- A student thought to be educationally disabled is referred to a multidisciplinary team called the Committee on Special Education (CSE).
- The CSE evaluates the student’s abilities, and based upon State and Federal laws and regulations, determines if the student is eligible to receive special education services.
- If so, the CSE recommends an appropriate Individualized Education Program (IEP) based on evaluation results, and the student’s individual needs.
- The program is implemented upon Board of Education approval.
- The IEP is modified or adjusted by the CSE once a year at an Annual Review Meeting.
The student has a Reevaluation (every three years) to assure that he or she continues to require special education programs and services and that the IEP continues to be the appropriate educational plan.
This process occurs sequentially with each step building upon the previous one. In this way, comprehensive information regarding the student is obtained and considered. Timelines are in place so that delays are avoided. Parents are an integral part of this process and parental involvement is encouraged.
If your preschool or school-age child is having difficulties in school, first talk to his or her teachers. Our schools offer supports for students within general education such as counseling, academic intervention services, curriculum and instructional modifications. If you, the teacher and principal have not been able to help your child despite multiple interventions, your child may have a disability which affects his/her learning. You could make a referral to the Committee on Special Education or the Committee on Preschool Special Education. A referral is a written statement asking for the school district to evaluate your child to determine if he/ she needs special services. The written statement should be addressed to the Committee on Special Education and include your child’s name, current school and grade, date of birth, and a daytime phone number so that you may be contacted. It also requires an original signature by you, the parent or guardian. This referral can also be made by your child’s teacher, principal, or the Pupil Support Team.
Individual Education Program (IEP)
If the CSE determines that the student is eligible for Special Education services, the CSE members develop an Individual Education Program known as the IEP. This IEP must include the following:
- Present levels of performance and individual needs according to four areas: academic, social, physical development, and management needs
- Classification of the disability
- Measurable Annual Goals for assessing grade-level academic content standards
- Transition goals for students turning 15 years-of-age and older
- Recommended service(s)
- Projected date for initiation of Special Education services
- Testing modifications
Student Program Recommendations
Children receive program recommendations for the least restrictive environment. Each child’s IEP is reviewed annually to determine the need for continuation of services. As a result, children are placed accordingly for the following school year.
Understanding New York State Alternate Assessment (NYSAA)
What is the New York State Alternate Assessment (NYSAA)?
The NYSAA is part of the New York State testing program that measures student performance on alternate achievement standards in the areas of English language arts (ELA), mathematics, and science for students with the most severe cognitive disabilities. These standards are reduced in complexity from the learning standards.
Who should take the NYSAA?
Only students with the most severe cognitive disabilities are eligible to take the NYSAA. The Committee on Special Education (CSE) determines whether a student with a severe cognitive disability is eligible to take the NYSAA, based on the following criteria:
• The student has a severe cognitive disability, significant deficits in communication/ language, and significant deficits in adaptive behavior; and
• The student requires a highly specialized educational program that facilitates the acquisition, applications, and transfer of skills across natural environments (home, school, community, and/or workplace); and
• The student requires educational support systems, such as assistive technology, personal care services, health/medical services, or behavioral intervention.