• Special Education Eligibility and Response to Intervention (RtI):

    Special education is a continuum of educational services that students who are eligible for may be provided by their local educational agency (school district). To be eligible for special education services, a student must be determined to meet the eligibility criteria outlined in IDEA regulations for one or more of the following 13 disability categories:

    Learning Disability (LD): These are processing-based conditions that affect a student's ability to read, write, listen, speak, reason, or do math, or make reasonable and expectable progress in these areas when provided with remediation. Reading disabilities (dyslexia), Writing disabilities (Dysgraphia) and Math disabilities (Dyscalculia) are all included under this category.  This is the most common type of educational disability identified in schools.

    Other Health Impairment (OHI): These are impairments in a child’s strength, energy, or alertness, such as Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder, which impacts attention and concentration. Other medical conditions may be included under this category if the student's functioning is substantially impacted in strength, energy and alertness required for educational progress without specially designed instruction, services and support. In other cases, medical conditions that only warrant accommodation may be considered through Section 504.

    Autism (A):  Autism is a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age 3, that adversely affects a student's educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences. The term does not apply if a student's educational performance is adversely affected primarily because the student has an emotional disability.

    Speech and Language Impairment (SLI): Speech or language impairment includes severe communication disorders, such as stuttering, and severely impaired articulation, language impairments and/or voice impairment, that adversely affects a student's educational performance. 

    Emotionally Disability (ED): This category specifies that symptoms and characteristics exist over a long period of time and to a marked degree that affects a student's educational performance. To meet the criteria for an Emotional Disability, a student must demonstrate one or more of the following: An inability to learn that is not explained by intellectual, sensory or health factors, an inability to build or maintain age-appropriate relationships with teachers and peers, inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances, generally pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression, or a tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems. This category includes students with schizophrenia. Excluded from this category are students who are socially maladjusted.

    Hearing Impaired (HI): Hearing impairment means an impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects the child's educational performance, but that is not included under the definition of deafness. 

    Intellectual Disability (ID): Intellectual disability means significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning, existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period, that adversely affects a student's educational performance. 

    Multiple Disabilities (MD):These are co-occuring impairments of intellectual disabilities and other disabilities, that in combination cause severe educational needs that exceed with a special program for only one of the disabilities can provide. The term does not include deaf-blindness. 

    Orthopedic Impairment (OI): A severe orthopedic impairment that adversely affects a student's educational performance. The term includes impairments caused by congenital anomalies (e.g., clubfoot, absence of some member, etc.), impairments caused by disease (e.g., poliomyelitis, bone tuberculosis, etc.), and impairments from other causes (e.g., cerebral palsy, amputation, and fractures or burns which cause contractures). 

    Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): Traumatic brain injury means an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force or by certain medical conditions such as stroke, encephalitis, aneurysm, anoxia or brain tumors with resulting impairments that adversely affect educational performance. The term includes open or closed head injuries or brain injuries from certain medical conditions resulting in mild, moderate or severe impairments in cognition, language, memory, attention, reasoning, abstract thinking, judgement, problem solving, sensory, perceptual and motor abilities, psychosocial behavior, physical functions, information processing, and speech. The term does not include injuries that are congenital or caused by birth trauma. 

    Visual Impairment (VI): Visual impairment, including blindness, means an impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a student's educational performance. The term includes both partial sight and blindness. 

    Deafness (D): Deafness means a hearing impairment that is so severe that the student is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification, that adversely affects a student's educational performance.

    Deaf Blindness (DB): Deaf-blindness means concomitant hearing and visual impairments, the combination of which causes such severe communication and other developmental and educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for students with deafness or students with blindness.
    Eligibility for Special Education:  The Necessity of Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS)
    In accordance with IDEA and Part 200 of the Commissioner's Regulations, Poughkeepsie City School District (PCSD) and all schools must utilize a Response to Intervention (RtI) process, to assist students in making educational progress before consideration of referral to the Committee on Special Education (CSE). The Poughkeepsie City School District addresses RtI needs through our Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) which includes tiered interventions available within our schools. The school district is obligated to address areas of student learning through the use of appropriate, research and evidence-based instruction and interventions delivered to all students in the general education classes by qualified personnel, and to annually perform universal screening and progress monitoring in academic skills. Research-based interventions within the general classroom setting, in small groups with more intensive support and outside of the classroom in separate and highly intensive support, are then used and monitored for progress. The aim is for students to make reasonable gains toward closing achievement and skills gaps. Interventions are time limited, specific, documented and reviewed frequently. As required by regulation, these results are part of the consideration for eligibility data used by the Committee on Special Education (CSE).  Additional details of the District's MTSS plan are available on our department's MTSS overview page.

    Special Education Evaluation




    Related 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.

    Part 200 of the Regulations of the Commissioner

    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 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.


    General Education and Diploma Requirements

    NYS Diploma Requirements for All Students Enrolled in Grades 9-12

    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.

    Parent's Guide to New York State Alternate Assessment (NYSAA)