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Special education eligibility: school-aged

How do I know if my school-aged child is eligible for special education? How would I have my child evaluated and assessed to determine eligibility?

Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) gives eligible children with disabilities ages 3 through 21 (upper age limit varies depending on state law) the right to a free appropriate public education (FAPE).

According to the regulations, a child qualifies for special education and related services under IDEA if a team of professionals evaluates the child and determines that:

1. the child has a disability, as defined in Section 300.8 of the IDEA regulations, and

2. the child needs special education services because of that disability.

The evaluation must consider all areas related to the suspected disability; it also must use a variety of assessment tools and strategies. Within 30 days of concluding that your child qualifies for services, the school district must hold a meeting to create an individualized education program (IEP) for your child.

To have your child tested, contact your child's teacher, the principal of the school, or the local or state director for special education.

Additional resources:

IDEA 2004: The law, regulations, training materials, topic briefs, and related notices.

General Information about Disabilities: An overview of disabilities and services under IDEA.

Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) State Contacts: This is a listing of U.S. Department of Education staff members who can provide assistance, organized by state.

Topic Information
  • Topic #: 28022-713
  • Date Created: 12/31/2012
  • Last Modified Since: 10/22/2013
  • Viewed: 2127

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