Eligibility for Special Ed: Myth v. Fact

For students to receive special education services, they must be found eligible under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). However, misconceptions abound. Below we separate myth from fact with regard to three common concerns:

A student receiving passing grades in general education does not require special education.

Myth. Grades alone are not definitive in deciding who needs special education. The school district must address not only academic needs, but also social, behavioral, emotional and other needs that impact a child’s ability to access their education. Because grades are subjective, a child can have straight A’s yet still have deficits that require special education. A child could also be getting good grades due to accommodations such as no penalty for spelling or incorrect grammar.

Anxiety disorders do not qualify a student for special education services.

It depends. A determination is based on whether the anxiety is impacting the student’s education and/or if that anxiety is associated with school.

If the school district promises services without identifying a child for special education, parents can enforce the implementation of these services.

Myth. Although this happens frequently, the child is at risk. Under these circumstances he is not protected under IDEA and therefore implementation cannot be enforced. If you believe your child is eligible for special education services, stand your ground and make sure that he is evaluated and found eligible under IDEA. There’s often the presumption that if the school is delivering services anyway your child might be considered eligible, but that is not the case.

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