Under what circumstances is prior written notice required?A Prior Written Notice letter is a document that is required following the proposal and/or refusal related to the initiation or change in the identification, evaluation, educational placement, or offer of FAPE (34 CFR §500.503). An Individualized Education Program (IEP) team may make decisions regarding the identification of a student including, but not limited to:
What are the required elements of a Prior Written Notice?To be considered compliant, a Prior Written Notice must include seven required elements (34 CFR §300.503), including:
How soon after educational decisions should prior written notice be provided?Though there are not any specific timelines around when to provide prior written notice, it must be provided “within a reasonable timeline prior to action” (34 CFR 300.503(a)). This means prior written notice must be given to parents in a reasonable time before the LEA/district implements that action, but after the LEA’s/district’s decision on the proposal or refusal has been made. It is recommended that the LEA/district use their best judgement when considering the timeline for providing a Prior Written Notice letter. It should be provided after the meeting but soon enough so that a parent has time to review and provide a response prior to the change in the IEP taking place.
How should prior written notice be formatted?Neither federal nor state special education regulations specify the format in which a Prior Written Notice letter must be provided. Permissible formats include a formal letter on letterhead, the use of fill-in-the-blank forms (located in the SEIS document library), and the use of the IEP form in the SEIS tower of forms. It is recommended that LEAs/districts exercise caution when considering the use of the IEP document itself to provide prior written notice. It is not generally the case that an IEP document contains the seven elements that are required for prior written notice to be considered compliant. If the LEA/district is not confident that all the required elements for prior written notice exist in the IEP document, it is strongly recommended that a separate Prior Written Notice letter be provided along with a copy of the IEP.
How should the LEA/district document that prior written notice has been provided?IDEA does not require that a parent acknowledge receipt of a Prior Written Notice letter. Since the LEA/district will not receive copies of a Prior Written Notice letter with parent signatures or other confirmations of receipt, it is recommended that the LEA/district develops a system and record-keeping mechanism to document that the Prior Written Notice letters have been provided. 1 The term “parent” refers to a natural parent, adopted parent, or legal guardian (EDC §49061). Any rights afforded to the parent are transferred to the adult student when they reach the age of majority (age 18), except in cases when a student with a disability has been deemed unable to make their own educational decisions under California Law. Therefore, references to the parent may also include adult students.
SPECIAL EDUCATION TIMELINES
|Initial Assessment and Individualized Education Program (IEP) Development|
|Service||Timeline||Considerations & Supporting Guidance||Regulation|
Proposal of Assessment Plan (AP) for Initial Assessment
|15 calendar days from the date of referral|
Exceptions may include:
*School breaks in excess of 5 school days
*If a referral is received 10 days or fewer before the end of the school year, then the AP must be sent to the parent/guardian within the first 10 days of the following school year
See the “Assessment Plan” section of this Procedural Guide for more information on the content of the assessment plan and accompanying documents.
|IEP team meeting to review initial assessments||60 calendar days from the receipt of parent/guardian consent on the Assessment Plan, to determine eligibility and areas of need|
Exceptions may include:
*Student enrolls in another LEA
*Student is not made available
*School breaks in excess of 5 school days
*If the referral is received 30 days or fewer before the end of the school year, the IEP meeting must be held within the first 30 calendar days of the next school year.
|IEP Team Meetings|
|Service||Timeline||Considerations & Supporting Guidance||Regulation|
|Plan Review||Not to exceed 12 months (365 days) from the date of the last IEP|
IDEA makes parents/guardians mandatory members of the IEP team.
See the “Parent Participation” section of this Procedural Guide for more information on parent participation and conducting an IEP meeting without a parent in attendance.
EDC §56043(d), (j)
|IEP team meeting to review reassessments including eligibility evaluations||60 calendar days after the receipt of parent/guardian consent on the Assessment Plan|
Exceptions may include:
* School breaks in excess of 5 school days
*If the referral is received 30 days or fewer before the end of the school year, the IEP is due within the first 30 calendar days of the next school year
EDC §56043 (f) (l)
EDC §56343 (a)
EDC §56344 (a)
|Parent/guardian requests an IEP meeting for a student with an existing IEP||30 calendar days after a written request is received|
Exceptions may include:
*School breaks in excess of 5 school days
If a verbal request is made by the parent/guardian, the LEA must direct and/or assist the parent/guardian in making the request in writing.
EDC §56043 (I)
|IEP to review student’s lack of progress toward IEP goals||No specific timeline||Consideration: Convene the IEP team within 30 days of determining that a student is demonstrating a lack of progressSee the “Annual Review and Re-Evaluation” section of this Procedural Guide for more information regarding steps the IEP team may take when considering a lack of progress towards IEP goals.||EDC §56343(b)|
|Notify parents of the IEP team meeting and send the IEP Notice of Meeting||Early enough to ensure an opportunity to attend the meeting|
Consideration: At least 10 school days before the meeting date
See the “Individualized Education Program Meeting” section of this Procedural Guide for more information on parent notification of IEP team meetings.
|Notice of Procedural Safeguards||Give a copy of procedural safeguards at each IEP meeting and at least once each year|
See the “Procedural Safeguards” section of this Procedural Guide for other instances where a copy of the procedural safeguards must be provided to parents/guardians.
“Notice of Procedural Safeguards and Parent’s Rights” can be found in many languages in the SEIS Document Library. languages in the SEIS Document Library.
34 CFR §300.504
|Implement the signed IEP||As soon as possible after receiving the signed IEP from the parent/guardian||See the “Parental Consent and Parental Revocation of Consent” section of this Procedural Guide for the definition of parental consent.|
|Progress reports on IEP goals provided to the parent(s) /guardian(s)||Frequency is determined by the IEP team and should be provided at least in concurrence with the issuance of report cards at the LEA||EDC §56345(a)(3)|
|Service||Timeline||Considerations & Supporting Guidance||Regulation|
|Eligibility Evaluation||Every 3 years based on the date of the last eligibility evaluation|
May occur more often if needed, but no more than once per year, unless the IEP team agrees
Parent/guardian and LEA may agree in writing that eligibility evaluations are not necessary and may also agree to limit the scope of the review
See the “Annual Review and Re-Evaluation” section of this Procedural Guide for more information regarding Eligibility Evaluations, circumstances warranting more frequent eligibility evaluations, and instances in which the team may consider a review of records.
|Proposal for re-assessment||15 calendar days from the date of referral|
Exceptions may include:
*School breaks in excess of 5 school days
*If a referral is received 10 days or fewer before the end of the school year, then the AP would be due within the first 10 days of the following school year
See the “Assessment Plan” section of this Procedural Guide for more information on the content of the assessment plan and accompanying documents.
|Individual Transition Plans (ITP)|
|Service||Timeline||Considerations & Supporting Guidance||Regulation|
|Individual Transition Plan (ITP)|
Must be in the IEP when the student turns 16
ITPs must be updated at least annually
|See the “Transition Planning” section of this Procedural Guide for considerations of transition planning.|
EDC §56043 (g)(1), (h)
|Students are informed of the transfer of rights at the age of 18, known as the “age of majority”||LEA must inform the parent(s)/guardian(s) and special education student before the student turns 17||See the “Age of Majority” section of this Procedural Guide for more information on the age of majority timeline and IEP requirements.|
|Notice to parent(s) /guardian(s) of student’s graduation from high school with a diploma||No specific statutory timeline, “reasonable” Prior Written Notice must be given||See the “Graduation Options for Students with Disabilities” and “Age Out Timelines” sections of this Procedural Guide for information on the termination of special education services.||EDC §56500.5|
|Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE)|
|Service||Timeline||Considerations & Supporting Guidance||Regulation|
|Respond to a request for an IEE||No specific statutory timeline, but should respond without unnecessary delay|
Consideration: Respond within 15 days of parent/guardian request for IEE.
34 CFR §300.502(b)
|Service||Timeline||Considerations & Supporting Guidance||Regulation|
|Provide parent(s) /guardian(s) with notice of change of placement if a student has been removed from current placement as well as a copy of procedural safeguards||The day a decision is made to remove a student for disciplinary purposes for more than 10 school days||See the “Suspension, Expulsion and Manifestation Determination” section of this Procedural Guide for information on discipline procedures.||34 CFR §300.530(h)|
|Conduct a manifestation review||Within 10 school days of the decision to remove the student for disciplinary purposes that result in the removal of the student for more than 10 days within the same school year||See the “Suspension, Expulsion and Manifestation Determination” and "Manifestation Determination Flowchart” sections of this Procedural Guide for information on the process of a Manifestation Determination.||34 CFR §300.530(e)|
|Student Records/Records Request|
|Service||Timeline||Considerations & Supporting Guidance||Regulation|
|Provide parent(s)/guardian(s) with copies of student records||After an oral or written request from the parent(s) /guardian(s); the records should be provided within 5 business days and before any IEP meeting or resolution session, if applicable||See the “Student Records” section of this Procedural Guide for guidelines that apply to each type of student record and access to records.|
|Provide a receiving LEA with special education records for students that have transferred||5 business days after a request for records from the receiving LEA is received||See the “Student Records” section of this Procedural Guide for information on transferring records.||EDC §56043(o)|
|Notification to the District of Residence when a student leaves a charter school||A charter school must notify the superintendent of the school district of the pupil’s last known address within 30 days if a pupil is expelled or leaves the charter school without graduating||See the “Student Record” section of this Procedural Guide for details on what records must also be provided upon request.||EDC §47605(d)(3)|
|Service/Obligation||Timeline||Exceptions / Notes / Considerations||Authority|
|Propose an assessment plan for initial assessment.||15 calendar days from date of referral.||
||EDC §56043(a) EDC §56321(a)|
|IEP team meeting to review initial assessments.||60 calendar days to determine the student’s eligibility and areas of need after receipt of parent consent to assessment plan.||
||EDC §56043(c) EDC §56302.1 EDC §56344(a)|
|Type of Assessment||Minimum Qualifications|
|Academic Achievement||Credentialed Special Education Teacher Licensed Educational Psychologist Pupil Personnel Services Credential|
|Adaptive Behavior||Licensed Educational Psychologist Pupil Personnel Services Credential|
|Adaptive Physical Education||Credentialed Adapted Physical Education Specialist|
|Assistive Technology||Certified or Licensed Speech/Language Pathologist Occupational Therapist Certified Assistive Technology Specialist|
|Auditory Acuity||Licensed Educational Audiologist Clinical or Rehabilitative Services Credential Language, Speech and Hearing and Audiology Credential|
|Auditory Perception/Auditory Processing||Language, Speech and Hearing and Audiology Credential Clinical or Rehabilitative Services Credential Education Specialist Instruction Credential: Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Licensed Educational Psychologist Pupil Personnel Services Credential|
|Functional Behavioral Assessment||Credentialed Special Education Teacher Pupil Personnel Services Credential Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Licensed Clinical Social Worker Licensed Educational Psychologist Board Certified Behavior Analyst|
|Cognitive||Licensed Educational Psychologist Pupil Personnel Services Credential|
|Health||Licensed Physician Registered Nurse School Nurse Services Credential|
|Motor||Licensed Physical Therapist Registered Occupational Therapist Adaptive Physical Education Specialist|
|Occupational Therapy||Licensed Occupational Therapist|
|Orientation and Mobility||Clinical or Rehabilitative Services Credential Education Specialist Instruction Credential: Physical and Health Impairment|
|Physical Therapy||Licensed Physical Therapist|
|Social/Emotional||Licensed Educational Psychologist Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Pupil Personnel Services Credential|
|Transition/Vocational||Credentialed Special Education Teacher Adult Education Credential with a Career Development Authorization Pupil Personnel Services Credential|
|Visual Acuity/ Developmental Vision||Licensed Optometrist Licensed Ophthalmologist Education Specialist Instruction Credential: Visual Impairments|
|Visual Motor||Licensed Educational Psychologist Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) Pupil Personnel Services Credential|
|Functional Vision||Education Specialist Instruction Credential: Visual Impairments|
Parent NotificationParents are critical and necessary members of the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team and shall be given sufficient written notice of the IEP meeting so that they can attend and participate. The term parent refers to a natural parent, adopted parent, or legal guardian (EDC §49061). To ensure parent participation, the following is advised: Contact parents and IEP team members (at school and outside service providers) to arrange a meeting at a mutually agreed upon time and place.
IEP Team MembershipAs defined in EDC §56341, the following individuals are required members of an IEP Team to develop, revise, or review the IEP, determine eligibility, and/or recommend placement for any pupil. The student’s parent(s)/legal guardian(s)/surrogate parent or an individual selected by the parent. For further information regarding the definition of parent or information on surrogate parents, visit the "Surrogate Parent Procedures" section of this Procedural Guide. It is important to note that no individual or agency is authorized to sign with consent to an IEP unless they possess educational rights for the student.
Membership Excusal34 CFR §300.321 allows for the excusal of IEP team members based on the following: Not Necessary: A member of an IEP team may not be required to attend an IEP meeting, in whole or in part, if the parent of a child with a disability and the LEA/district agree that the attendance of such member is not necessary because the member’s area of the curriculum or related services is not being modified or discussed in the meeting.
AgendaIt is essential that a well-organized and structured IEP team meeting be conducted. The meeting outline which follows is recommended as a guide for conducting IEP team meetings. Depending on the purpose of the meeting, the IEP Meeting agenda may be amended. An example IEP Meeting agenda can be found in the SEIS document library. Additionally, please see the "Initial and Triennial Planning Sheet” and "Educational Benefit Guidelines"as additional resources when planning IEP Meetings. Efforts should be made to present information in a manner that is easily understood by all members of the IEP team, including the parents. This includes providing parents with translated documents when necessary.
General InformationFollowing an assessment, the IEP team, including assessment personnel, shall make the decision as to whether or not the assessment results demonstrate that the degree of the student’s impairment requires special education and/or related services (EDC §56320 & §3030) . The IEP team shall consider all the relevant information available about the student. No single score or product of scores shall be used as the sole criterion for the decision of the IEP team as to the student’s eligibility for special education. In making a determination for eligibility, a student shall not be determined to be an individual with exceptional needs if the determining factor is one of the following (EDC §56321(a)(2)) :
Under the IDEA, a student with a disability refers to a student “evaluated in accordance with 34 CFR §300.304 through §300.311 as having an intellectual disability, a hearing impairment (including deafness), a speech or language impairment, a visual impairment (including blindness), a serious emotional disturbance (referred to in this part as “emotional disturbance”), an orthopedic impairment, autism, traumatic brain injury, an other health impairment, a specific learning disability, deaf-blindness, or multiple disabilities, and who, by reason thereof, needs special education and related services.” 34 CFR §300.8(a)(1) The IDEA sets forth how states define who is eligible for special education, and these 13 categories are defined by the California Code of Regulations (5 CCR §3030) for determining eligibility in California. The list below reflects all 13 categories followed by corresponding definitions.
Specific Learning Disability (SLD)A specific learning disability means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken, or written, that may have manifested itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations. A specific learning disability can include conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. These conditions are medically diagnosed and do not automatically make a student eligible for special education and related services. A medical diagnosis may trigger an evaluation to determine the corresponding impairment in psychological processes and the need for special education and related services in the school setting. The basic psychological processes include:
SLD Eligibility ModelsWithin all models, both of the following items apply:
Discrepancy ModelIn determining whether a student has a specific learning disability, the public agency may consider whether a student has a severe discrepancy between intellectual ability and achievement in any of the following:
|Specific Learning Disability Models|
|Specific Learning Disability (SLD) Defined: A disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may have manifested itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. The basic psychological processes include attention, visual processing, auditory processing, sensory-motor skills, and cognitive abilities including association, conceptualization, and expression. Specific Learning Disabilities do not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, intellectual disability, emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage. *Note: the criteria listed above, including the presence of a processing deficit and consideration of exclusionary criteria, applies to all three models of identification: Discrepancy Model, Response to Intervention, and Patterns of Strength and Weakness.|
|Models of Identifying SLD||Brief Overview|
|Discrepancy Model||The IQ-achievement discrepancy model assesses whether there is a significant difference between a student’s scores on a test of general intelligence (e.g., an IQ test such as the WISC-V) and scores obtained on a test of academic achievement (e.g., the Woodcock-Johnson Achievement Test). If a student’s score on the IQ test is at least two standard deviations (23-30 points) higher than his or her scores on an achievement test, the student is identified as having a significant discrepancy between IQ and achievement. In addition to the discrepancy, testing must indicate a psychological processing disorder in one of the basic psychological processes. The discrepancy paired with a processing disorder yields eligibility under SLD.|
|Response to Intervention (RtI) Model||The term Response to Intervention (RtI) refers to a process that emphasizes how well a student responds to meaningful and targeted changes in instruction. The essential elements of the RtI approach are: the provision of scientific, research-based instruction and interventions in general education; monitoring and measurement of student progress in response to the instruction and interventions; and use of these measures of student progress to inform instruction and make educational decisions. A student is identified as having a Specific Learning Disability if they display insufficient response to scientific, research-based intervention as well as insufficient progress toward grade-level standards.|
|Patterns of Strength and Weakness (PSW) Model||The Patterns of Strengths and Weaknesses model refers to a thorough examination of a student’s basic psychological processes (i.e. visual, auditory, memory, attention, etc.) using a range of information gathered through standardized assessment in conjunction with school-based performance measures. There are pre-established and research-based methods a psychologist may rely on (e.g., Cross Battery Assessment, Dehn’s Processing Model, Discrepancy/Consistency Method). Regardless of the model a psychologist uses, the focus is to answer the following questions:
Other Health Impairment (OHI)Other health impairment means having limited strength, vitality, or alertness, including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, that results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment that:
OHI and ADHDIf a student exhibits ADHD-like behaviors, the IEP team should attempt to differentiate indicators that would be more closely associated with conditions such as:
Emotional Disturbance (ED)Emotional disturbance means a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects a student’s educational performance:
Speech or Language Impairment (SLI)A student has a language or speech disorder once it is determined that the student’s disorder meets one or more of the following criteria:
Autism (AUT)Autism means a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age three, and adversely affecting 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. Autism does not apply if a student’s educational performance is adversely affected primarily because the student has an emotional disturbance. A student who manifests the characteristics of autism after age three could be identified as having autism if the criteria are satisfied. Autism can be medically diagnosed; however, a medical diagnosis does not automatically make a student eligible for special education and related services. A medical diagnosis may trigger a school-based evaluation to determine the corresponding need for special education and related services in the school setting. Conversely, a student does not require a medical diagnosis to meet the eligibility criteria for autism. School-based assessments do not diagnose autism. They document the presence of behavior that may be symptomatic of autism or autism spectrum disorders and how those behaviors impact a student’s learning performance. Assessors may wish to provide differential eligibility criteria to rule in and rule out other areas of eligibility such as OHI, ED, or SLD. Other areas of assessment for students with autism may include pragmatic language (speech) or a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA), resulting in a BIP.
Intellectual Disability (ID)Intellectual disability means significantly sub-average general intellectual functioning, existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period that adversely affects a student’s educational performance.
Hard of Hearing (HH)Hearing impairment means an impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects a student’s educational performance, but that is not included under the definition of deafness in this section. For more information on referral to the California School for the Deaf for additional assessment, please see the section titled, “State Special Schools and Services”.
Deafness (DEAF)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. For more information on referral to the California School for the Deaf for additional assessment, please see the section titled, “State Special Schools and Services”.
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. For more information on referral to the California School for the Blind for additional assessment, please see the section titled, “State Special Schools and Services”.
Orthopedic Impairment (OI)Orthopedic impairment means a severe orthopedic impairment that adversely affects a student’s educational performance. The term includes impairments caused by a congenital anomaly, impairments caused by disease (e.g., poliomyelitis, bone tuberculosis), and impairments from other causes (e.g., cerebral palsy, amputations, and fractures or burns that cause contractures).
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 student with blindness. For more information on referral to the California School for the Blind for additional assessment, please see the section titled, “State Special Schools and Services”.
Multiple Disabilities (MD)Multiple disabilities mean concomitant impairments, such as intellectual disability-blindness or intellectual disability-orthopedic impairment, the combination of which causes such severe educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for one of the impairments. Multiple disabilities does not include deaf-blindness.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)Traumatic brain injury means an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force, resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment, or both, that adversely affects a student’s educational performance. Traumatic brain injury applies to open or closed head injuries resulting in impairments in one or more areas, such as cognition; language; memory; attention; reasoning; abstract thinking; judgment; problem-solving; sensory, perceptual, and motor abilities; psychosocial behavior; physical functions; information processing; and speech. Traumatic brain injury does not apply to brain injuries that are congenital or degenerative, or to brain injuries induced by birth trauma. Neither the IDEA nor California law expressly requires medical documentation of TBI before determining whether a student qualifies under the TBI eligibility category. If a parent provides the IEP team, either verbally or in writing, with information that a student has suffered a TBI, the IEP team should consider the information and determine whether the information suffices to prove the student suffers from a TBI or whether additional information is necessary. If the IEP team requires further information, such as a medical evaluation to determine whether the student is suffering from a TBI caused by external physical force or some other impairment, the district is required to provide the assessment at no cost to the parents, just as it would under any other disabling condition.
Other Considerations with Regard to Eligibility:Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) A student whose educational performance is adversely affected by a suspected or diagnosed attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), may meet eligibility requirements under the following categories:
Medical Diagnosis: ADHD, Autism, Other Medical Conditions, and/or Mental Health DisordersEligibility for special education differs from a medical diagnosis provided by an outside medical provider in the following ways:
Eligibility for Related ServicesFor a student to access related services (e.g., occupational therapy, counseling, transportation, adapted PE), they must have an evaluation conducted by the appropriately credentialed specialist. A written report must identify that the student qualifies for the related service and must outline areas of need. The IEP team must convene to discuss the assessment results. Based on the evaluator’s findings, the student’s needs will be outlined in the present levels to drive goals and services. The goals must include baseline data to indicate present levels of functioning specific to each goal area. Services and goals should be updated at each annual IEP and re-evaluated at each triennial IEP. Should a service provider wish to exit a student from a related service, they should complete a full reevaluation to provide the IEP team with documentation that the related service is no longer necessary. For information regarding eligibility for Educationally Related Mental Health Services (ERMHS), please refer to the El Dorado SELPA’s ERMHS Program Guidelines. If you have any questions regarding the guidance provided in this document, please contact your El Dorado SELPA’s Program Specialist.
Overview of Transition PlanningCollaborate closely with the student through each step of the process:
Transition AssessmentTransition Assessment is the ongoing process of collecting data on the individual’s needs, preferences, and interests as they relate to the demands of current and future working, educational, living, and personal and social environments. Assessment is the common thread in the transition process and forms the basis for defining goals and services to be included in the IEP. Transition assessment should include activities, assessments, content, environments, instruction, and/or materials that reflect a student’s chronological age and/or developmental level. Each year, the transition assessments should be revisited in a more specific manner, targeting the student’s development. For students in grades nine and ten, a career exploration measure or interest inventory is typically satisfactory. For an older student, a vocational skills assessment is more appropriate. Assessment should address all three components of transition- employment, postsecondary education and training, and independent living. It is best practice to use information in addition to a student’s self-report when assessing for transition. Input from parents, teachers, and other providers is helpful in determining needs a student may have but not recognize themselves in employment, independent living, and education. Tools that can be used to assess a student’s transition needs may include:
Measurable Postsecondary GoalsMeasurable Postsecondary Goals (MPSGs) should be student-centered and directed by assessment. They typically focus on 12-24 months after high school graduation or completion. It is important that the goals are measurable and identify an outcome rather than a process. These measurable postsecondary goals must be reviewed and updated annually but are not required to change. They may become more specific as a student matures. Measurable postsecondary goals are required for all students in two areas: 1) training/education and 2) employment. Measurable postsecondary goals in the area of training/education may include college studies (university and community college), occupational certification, technical training, industry certification, or on-the-job training. Measurable postsecondary goals in the area of employment might include paid, competitive, supported, or sheltered employment. It may also include unpaid opportunities such as volunteering in a training capacity, military, etc. A third measurable postsecondary goal in the area of Independent Living is recommended but not required. It is up to the student’s IEP Team to determine whether IEP goals related to the development of independent living skills are appropriate and necessary for the student to receive Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) (71 Fed. Reg. 46668 (Aug. 14, 2006)). Measurable postsecondary goals in the area of independent living should be considered for students who are Regional Center clients, students taking alternative assessments, students on a non-diploma track, and for students with medical and mental health issues. Recommended best practice is to have a goal in independent living for all students with an IEP.
Suggested IEP Language for Measurable Postsecondary GoalsThe IEP template in SEIS starts the MPSG with “Upon completion of school I will…” From that point on, you could choose to add specificity, i.e., “receive a certificate of completion and…,” or “receive a high school diploma and…” and align MPSGs with the outcome identified in the student’s Course of Study. Use results-oriented terms such as, “Will enroll in, will work at, will live independently,” etc. (Avoid “hope to,” “plan to,” or “will seek employment,” etc.). Use descriptors such as full-time, part-time, independently, with adult support, etc. Annual goals should be specifically and directly linked to measurable postsecondary goals. Annual goals must be reasonably calculated to assist the student in achieving readiness for postsecondary goals. Skills targeted should be based on identified areas of student need, and there should be at least one annual goal tied to each measurable postsecondary goal.
Course of StudyFederal and state law require that transition pages in an IEP include a multi-year description of coursework planned to achieve the student’s desired postsecondary goals from the student’s current year to the anticipated graduation or exit year. A transcript does not meet this requirement unless it includes courses the student will take in the future, by year, that are specifically related to the student’s postsecondary goals. List any courses that are LEA/ district, student, or site-specific and how they link to measurable postsecondary goals. Based on a review of legislation and California Education Code that inform the course of study for the state of California, and with the goal of making sure we do not create liabilities for any students, the California Secondary Transition Leadership Team has recommended1:
Coordinated Set of Activities to Support Transition GoalsIDEA requires a “coordinated set of activities” for individual students to meet their postsecondary goals. These activities should be listed in the transition pages of the student’s IEP and must be individualized based on the needs of the student. While some activities included in the list may be general activities offered to all students at a school site, other activities should be identified that help each individual student work toward their measurable postsecondary goals. Many of these activities may already be happening at a school site and may benefit all students. Examples might include:
Transition Service CodesMany service codes for transition services are 800 codes in SEIS. Students who struggle with activities of daily living may need direct instruction in areas such as hygiene, cooking, budgeting, etc. In some cases, “specialized academic instruction (code 330)” may be the appropriate service to support a measurable postsecondary goal in independent living, even though it is not an 800 code. 800 Codes available in SEIS are as follows:
|820||College awareness: College awareness is the result of acts that promote and increase student learning about higher education opportunities, information, and options that are available including, but not limited to, career planning, course prerequisites, admission eligibility, and financial aid.|
|830||Vocational assessment, counseling, guidance, and career assessment: Organized educational programs that are directly related to the preparation of individuals for paid or unpaid employment, and may include provision for work experience, job coaching, development and/or placement, and situational assessment. This includes career counseling to assist a student in assessing his/her aptitudes, abilities, and interests in order to make realistic career decisions.|
|840||Career awareness: Transition services include a provision for self-advocacy, career planning, and career guidance. This also emphasizes the need for coordination between these provisions and the Perkins Act to ensure that students with disabilities in middle schools will be able to access vocational education funds.|
|850||Work experience education: Work experience education means organized educational programs that are directly related to the preparation of individuals for paid or unpaid employment, or for additional preparation for a career requiring other than a baccalaureate or advanced degree.|
|855||Job Coaching: Job coaching is a service that provides assistance and guidance to an employee who may be experiencing difficulty with one or more aspects of the daily job tasks and functions. The service is provided by a job coach who is highly successful, skilled and trained on the job who can determine how the employee that is experiencing difficulty learns best and formulate a training plan to improve job performance.|
|860||Mentoring: Mentoring is a sustained coaching relationship between a student and teacher through ongoing involvement. The mentor offers support, guidance, encouragement and assistance as the learner encounters challenges with respect to a particular area such as acquisition of job skills. Mentoring can be either formal, as in planned, structured instruction, or informal that occurs naturally through friendship, counseling, and collegiality in a casual, unplanned way.|
|865||Agency linkages (referral and placement): Service coordination and case management that facilitates the linkage of individualized education programs under this part and individualized family service plans under part C with individualized service plans under multiple Federal and State programs, such as title I of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (vocational rehabilitation), title XIX of the Social Security Act (Medicaid), and title XVI of the Social Security Act (supplemental security income).|
|870||Travel training (includes mobility training)|
|890||Other transition services: These services may include program coordination, case management and meetings, and crafting linkages between schools and between schools and postsecondary agencies.|
Summary of Performance (Postsecondary Exit)The Summary of Performance (SOP) is required under the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004. The language as stated in IDEA 2004 regarding the SOP is as follows: For a student whose eligibility under special education terminates due to graduation with a regular diploma or due to exceeding the age of eligibility, the local education agency “shall provide the student with a summary of the student’s academic achievement and functional performance, which shall include recommendations on how to assist the student in meeting the student’s postsecondary goals” (CFR §300.305(e)(3)). The Summary of Performance (SOP), with the accompanying documentation, is important to assist the student in the transition from high school to higher education, training, and/or employment. This information is necessary under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act to help establish a student’s eligibility for reasonable accommodations and supports in postsecondary settings. The information about students’ current level of functioning is intended to help postsecondary institutions consider accommodations for access. These recommendations should not imply that any individual who qualified for special education in high school will automatically qualify for services in the postsecondary education or employment setting. Postsecondary settings will continue to make eligibility decisions on a case-by-case basis (adapted from the Council for Educational Diagnostic Services, a division of the Council for Exceptional Children). The Summary of Performance (SOP) must be completed in the final year of a student’s high school education. It is intended for postsecondary schools, service providers, and employers, to be used at the student’s discretion. The different organizations may have their own standards regarding the documentation required to establish eligibility. Students may (but are not required to) share their Summary of Performance with colleges, adult agencies, vocational and rehabilitative centers, employers, and others. The SOP helps such organizations identify services and accommodations the student might need in the classroom, the workplace, or the community. Each Summary of Performance must include information about the student’s academic achievement, information about the student’s functional performance, and recommendations on how to assist the student in meeting their postsecondary goals. IDEA does not identify a specific individual responsible for preparing the Summary of Performance. Typically, a student’s special education teacher completes the SOP when a student exits high school. There is no mandate in IDEA that requires a meeting to be held to discuss a Summary of Performance, and if a meeting is held, membership at the meeting is not prescribed. Typically, there can be a meeting with the case manager, student, and parent. If an exit IEP is being held, an SOP discussion could naturally occur during this meeting.
Performance IndicatorThe Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was reauthorized on December 3, 2004, becoming effective on July 1, 2005. In conjunction with the reauthorization, the U. S. Department of Education required states to develop six-year State Performance Plans on 20 indicators. Data on each of the 20 indicators are to be submitted annually in Annual Performance Reports. Indicator 13 relates to transition services for students and includes eight specific components to determine compliance with transition mandates: “Percent of youth with IEPs aged 16 and above with an IEP that includes appropriate (1) measurable postsecondary goals, (2) that are annually updated and based upon an age appropriate (3) transition assessment and (4) transition services, including (5) courses of study, that will reasonably enable the student to meet those postsecondary goals and (6) annual IEP goals related to the student’s transition services’ needs. There also must be evidence that (7) the student was invited to the IEP team meeting where transition services are to be discussed and evidence that, if appropriate, a representative of any (8) participating agency was invited to the IEP team meeting with the prior consent of the parent or student who has reached the age of majority (20 U.S.C. 1416(a)(3)(B)).” There are eight questions that must be answered in the Transition Plan of a student’s IEP to satisfy Indicator 13:
Student Participation in the IEPIDEA requires the student to be invited to the IEP meeting whenever appropriate. The IEP is based on the individual student’s needs, strengths, preferences, and interests. When planning for the transition from high school to post-school life, the student’s input is essential for their success. In accordance with 34 CFR §300.321(a)(7), the public agency must invite a student with a disability to attend the student’s IEP Team meeting if a purpose of the meeting will be the consideration of the postsecondary goals for the student and the transition services needed to assist the student in reaching those goals under 34 CFR §300.320(b). There are four areas where a student can be involved in the IEP process2:
Suggested Transition Individualized Education Plan Agenda (with Annual IEP)
Plan Review (Annual Review)The Individualized Education Program (IEP) shall be scheduled for review by an IEP team at least once a year, determined by the month and day of the initial or previous annual IEP (EDC §56343). This annual review requirement also applies to students in non-public schools (NPS) and residential treatment center (RTC) placements, in addition to yearly NPS site visits (EDC §56381.1). For more information regarding NPS and RTC requirements, visit the El Dorado Charter SELPA’s Nonpublic Schools and Residential Treatment Centers Guidelines. For students placed in a community treatment facility, regular evaluations are necessary to determine continuing student needs and appropriate placement in the least restrictive environment. In addition, a parent may request that an IEP review be conducted at any time. When the Local Educational Agency (LEA)/district receives such a request (preferably in writing), an IEP meeting must be held within 30 days. It is necessary to hold an IEP meeting if the student is not making sufficient progress toward goals and objectives. Parents and members of the IEP team must be notified by established notification procedures. The IEP team may:
Eligibility Evaluation (Triennial Review)According to 34 CFR §300.303, a reassessment of the student shall be conducted at least every three years or more frequently, if conditions warrant. As part of this reassessment, the IEP team shall review existing evaluation data, including evaluations and information provided by the parents of the student, current classroom-based assessments and observations, and teacher and related service providers’ observations. If an assessment is warranted for an eligibility evaluation, then an assessment plan will need to be completed and sent to the parent for signature. The procedures for completing an assessment plan are detailed in the “Assessment Plan” section of this Procedural Guide. For additional information, the eligibility evaluation process is explained in the section entitled “Assessment, Test Selection and Reports” in this Procedural Guide. As part of the eligibility evaluation process, if the student qualifies under Specific Learning Disability (SLD) the psychologist must also complete the appropriate SLD page that corresponds to the SLD Eligibility model used. The SLD pages are listed in each student’s future IEP in SEIS, and signatures on the completed SLD page must be obtained. The different SLD eligibility models are detailed in the “Eligibility Criteria” section of this Procedural Guide. Review of Records vs. Comprehensive Reassessment The IEP team must identify what additional information, if any, is needed to establish:
General GuidelinesCurriculum adaptations include accommodations, modifications, and supports that allow a student with a disability access to the general curriculum and assessments. LEAs/districts are responsible for ensuring that each teacher and provider is informed of their specific responsibilities related to implementing the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) and the specific accommodations, modifications, and supports that must be provided for the student in accordance with the IEP (34CFR 300.342 (b)(3)).
What are Accommodations?Accommodations are adaptations that enable a student with a disability to participate in educational programming and complete schoolwork or tests with greater ease and success. Accommodations DO NOT fundamentally alter the curriculum or lower expectations or standards in instructional level, content, or performance criteria. Accommodations are changes made to the curriculum to provide equal access to learning and equal opportunity to demonstrate what is known.
What are Modifications?Modifications are adaptations that provide a student with meaningful and productive learning experiences based on individual needs and abilities. Modifications DO fundamentally alter the curriculum and/or lower expectations or standards in instructional level, content, or performance criteria to meet the student’s needs. Adaptations to Assessments Accommodations and modifications should not simply be applied at the time of testing as a means of support. To justify the use of accommodations/modifications during testing, a student should also have access to the needed supports during instruction in the classroom. Grading When Adaptations Have Been Made to the Curriculum Because accommodations do not fundamentally alter the curriculum, a student’s grades should not reflect that accommodations have been made. Accommodations provide students with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in the general education curriculum. If modifications have been made to the curriculum of any course, it is important that the student’s grade reflect the student’s achievement in the modified curriculum, as long as modified grades are available to all students. However, any modifications to programming, instruction, and grading must be documented in the student’s IEP and be directly related to the student’s disability. To automatically give modified grades to all special education students would be discriminatory and potentially violate Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Additional information on grading when students have had accommodations or modifications can be found in the GRADING section of our Procedural Guide.
How to Determine the Appropriate Adaptations to CurriculumThe IEP team may use the Nine Types of Curriculum Adaptations (Diana Browning Wright, Teaching and Learning, 2005) matrix shown below to determine the most appropriate adaptations required for a student with a disability to gain access to the general curriculum. Once the team has agreed upon the necessary adaptations, it is recommended that they be shared with teachers and service providers to ensure that the accommodations, modifications, and supports written into the student’s IEP are being implemented with fidelity. Nine Types of Curriculum Adaptations
|* Quantity Adapt the number of items that the learner is expected to learn or number of activities student will complete prior to assessment for mastery. For example: Reduce the number of social studies terms a learner must learn at any one time. Add more practice activities or worksheets.||* Time Adapt the time allotted and allowed for learning, task completion, or testing. For example: Individualize a timeline for completing a task; pace learning differently (increase or decrease) for some learners.||* Level of Support Increase the amount of personal assistance to keep the student on task or to reinforce or prompt use of specific skills. Enhance adult-student relationship; use physical space and environmental structure. For example: Assign peer buddies, teaching assistants, peer tutors, or cross-age tutors. Specify how to interact with the student or how to structure the environment.|
|* Input Adapt the way instruction is delivered to the learner. For example: Use different visual aids, enlarge text, plan more concrete examples, and provide hands-on activities, place students in cooperative groups, pre-teach key concepts or terms before the lesson.||* Difficulty Adapt the skill level, problem type, or the rules on how the learner may approach the work. For example: Allow the use of a calculator to figure math problems; simplify task directions; change rules to accommodate learner needs.||* Output Adapt how the student can respond to instruction. For example: Instead of answering questions in writing, allow a verbal response, use a communication book for some students, allow students to show knowledge with hands on materials.|
|* Participation Adapt the extent to which a learner is actively involved in the task. For example: In geography, have a student hold the globe, while others point out locations. Ask the student to lead a group. Have the student turn the pages while sitting on your lap (kindergarten).||
|* This adaptation is an accommodation if the student can demonstrate mastery of the standard on an assessment. The key concept is: Will the student ultimately master the same material but demonstrate that mastery in alternate ways or with alternate supports? If standards are not fundamentally or substantially altered, then this adaptation is an accommodation to a learning or performance difference. * This adaptation is a modification if the student will not demonstrate mastery of the standard on an assessment. If routinely utilized, these adaptations are modifications and require individualized goals and assessment.|
|Substantially altered by Diana Browning Wright with permission from Jeff Sprague, Ph.D. from an original by DeSchenes, C., Ebeling, D., & Sprague, J. (1994). Adapting Curriculum & Instruction in Inclusive Classrooms: A Teachers Desk Reference. ISDDCSCI Publication. Diana Browning Wright, Teaching & Learning 2005|
IntroductionIn order to make grading most useful to students, parents/guardians, and educators, it is important that clear policies and grading systems be established within each LEA/district and consistently followed by teachers. While the El Dorado SELPAs recommends board-approved policies, LEA/districts are cautioned to avoid creating policies solely related to students with disabilities, as this may be perceived as discriminatory. Therefore, policies related to grading, report cards, and transcripts must be inclusive and made available to all students.
Impact of Curricular Adaptations on GradesCurricular adaptations include accommodations and modifications that allow a student with a disability access to the general education curriculum and assessments. LEAs/districts are responsible for ensuring that each teacher and provider is informed of their specific responsibilities related to implementing the student’s IEP and the specific accommodations, modifications, and supports that must be provided for the student in accordance with their IEP. In some cases, IEP teams will determine that a student with an IEP will be graded using alternate achievement standards. In other instances, a student with an IEP will be graded based on grade-level achievement standards, with accommodations. In both cases, an LEA/district shall develop an objective rating criterion determining grade point averages that will lead to a ranking of students based on their grade point average for honor roll and college scholarship purposes. However, LEA/districts may not use a grading system that assigns lower grade weights to all special education courses as it would be considered discriminatory practice on the basis of disability. For more information on determining appropriate, individualized adaptations, please reference the SELPAs Procedural Guidelines section on Curricular Adaptations.
AccommodationsAccommodations are adaptations that enable a student with a disability to participate in educational programming and complete school work or tests in a manner that allows a student to demonstrate knowledge without their disability impacting their performance. Accommodations do not fundamentally alter the curriculum nor lower expectations or standards in instructional level, content, or performance criteria. Accommodations are changes made to the curriculum to provide equal access to learning and equal opportunity to demonstrate what is known. Students with disabilities, as documented through a Section 504 plan or IEP, may have accommodations related to their disabilities that afford them equal access to education, including grading practices.
Impact of Accommodations on GradingBecause accommodations do not fundamentally alter the curriculum or lower expectations or standards in the instructional level, guidance from the California Department of Education (CDE) suggests that a student’s grade should not reflect that accommodations have been made. For students with IEPs taught in a general education classroom, general and special educators may work collaboratively when grading. By working together to grade a student with an IEP, both teachers may be able to more closely track and monitor student growth and progress in the general education curriculum.
ModificationsModifications are adaptations that provide a student with meaningful and productive learning experiences based on individual needs and abilities. Modifications fundamentally alter the curriculum or lower expectations/standards, in 1) instructional level, 2) content, or 3) performance criteria to meet the student’s needs. Therefore, modifications to grade level curriculum shall be an IEP team decision, and not simply determined because the student has an IEP or is receiving specialized services and/or in a specialized program. Agreed-upon modifications by the IEP team shall also be appropriately documented in the IEP.
Impact of Modifications on GradingAn LEA/district may indicate course modifications made or alternative grades awarded in any subject or course, however they must ensure that modified grades are not based exclusively on the student’s disability or educational program alone. To systematically modify grades for all students in special education is discriminatory and potentially violates Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Any modifications to programming, instruction, and grading must be determined by the IEP team. Once the IEP team has determined that a student will receive modified curriculum and supports, then the modifications to curriculum and grading need to be clearly documented in the student’s IEP in order to outline the curriculum, instruction, program, and grading design. In the event that a student with an IEP is receiving a modified program, an LEA/district may exclude the student from general grading practices and evaluate the student based on IEP goals and objectives. However, a student cannot be marked as non-graded, grades cannot be modified, and eligibility for honors awards cannot be decided solely on the basis of special education status. As previously referenced, this is an IEP team decision and must be carefully considered and documented in the IEP should modified grades be used. The IEP should clearly outline the modified curriculum and grading once it has been determined that this is appropriate by an IEP team.
Considerations When Grading a Student with an IEPThe El Dorado SELPAs suggests that LEAs/districts consider the following when establishing grading policies:
Practices to Consider
Practices to Consider Avoiding
Report Card RequirementsLEAs/districts are responsible for periodic reporting to parents1 to indicate the student’s progress or level of achievement in specific classes, course content, or curriculum. Typically, LEA/districts provide report cards to parents as a means of sharing information about their student’s academic progress. This commonly leaves LEA/district personnel with questions about how to formally document grades on report cards for students with disabilities. Procedural guidance in this section is intended to provide LEA/districts with options for developing report cards that are meaningful to parents while ensuring confidential and non-discriminatory practices. Regarding documentation that a student has a disability on a report card, a school may document that a student is receiving special education or related services as long as the information being provided is consistent with the underlying purpose of a report card, which is to inform parents about their child’s progress or level of achievement in specific class-es, course content, or curriculum. The mere designation that a student has an IEP or is receiving related services without more information about how the student is progressing, such as providing a grade or other evaluative standards, would not be consistent with IDEA’s periodic reporting requirement. Therefore, the LEA/district should consider providing parents with progress reports which reflect progress towards IEP goals in addition to the LEA/district report card in order to ensure the reporting process is both meaningful and meets IDEA’s periodic reporting requirement. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) acknowledges that students with significant disabilities could have unique needs that make the use of traditional report cards and progress reports ineffective or irrelevant. Therefore, OCR has provided guidance that states an LEA/district may use a different report card for students in alternative programs. As previously mentioned, the alternate reporting system shall be as meaningful and effective in conveying information to parents as the system provided to students without disabilities and with at least the same frequency as students who do not have IEPs. Should an LEA/district use its traditional report card for students receiving modified curriculum and/or grading, it may utilize a symbol or code to indicate that the student has received such modification to grade-level standards. However, it should be noted that this type of coding should not be used solely for students with disabilities.
Student TranscriptsThe purpose of report cards differs from that of transcripts. While report cards are intended to inform parents about academic performance, transcripts provide post-secondary institutions with an accurate picture of a student’s coursework. While report cards are shared with only parents, transcripts are more widely distributed. Consequently, LEAs/ districts shall ensure that transcripts comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Because transcripts may be shared with potential employers, post-secondary institutions, and other organizations, they cannot disclose the existence of a disability. An LEA/district may not identify that a student was placed in special education classes or received special education supports and services in any particular course on their transcript. However, course designations with more general connotations, not suggestive of special education, are acceptable. The CDE suggests that LEA/districts use course codes on a transcript to indicate a modification or an alternate grading scale was provided as long as these designated codes are also used for students without disabilities who are graded on an alternate scale. Some codes LEAs/districts have used to indicate remedial courses include terms like “basic,” “level 1,” or “practical.” Other permissible designations might include “independent study” or “modified curriculum” as long as those designations are not limited to special education courses. LEAs/districts are advised to avoid using designations limited to special education courses, such as coding a class using the term “special education.” LEAs/districts are also cautioned to exclude specific information on the transcript that may suggest specialized supports were provided to a student to assist the student in meeting grade-level standards. For example, a notation indicating the use of Braille materials is not related to whether that student mastered all the tenth-grade objectives for their literature class; therefore, it does not need to be included on the student’s transcripts. In specific circumstances, an LEA/district may disclose the fact that a student has taken special education courses to a post-secondary institution in instances where the parent and the student have knowledge of the specific information on the transcript that will be shared and provide written consent. For More Information on Grading please refer to the California Department of Education link on Promotion, Retention, and Grading. 1 The term “parent” refers to a natural parent, adopted parent, or legal guardian (EDC §49061). Any rights afforded to the parent are transferred to the adult student when they reach the age of majority (age 18), except in cases when a student with a disability has been deemed unable to make their own educational decisions under California Law. Therefore, references to the parent may also include adult students.
Why Retention?A student may be recommended for retention in their current grade by a parent/guardian, teacher, or administrator for numerous reasons, including a failure to meet grade-level promotion criteria, concerns regarding developmental maturity, behavioral challenges, or extended periods of absence. Before making a final determination, it is essential to carefully consider the student’s individual needs, previous and future opportunities for support, and the scope of potential academic, social, and emotional outcomes the student may experience as a result of retention. In order to make well-informed student-centered decisions, school team members must also remain knowledgeable of research regarding student retention outcomes. There are additional crucial considerations when making retention decisions for students with exceptional needs for whom an Individualized Education Program (IEP) has been developed. Those considerations, as well as general information regarding promotion criteria, retention research outcomes, and alternatives to retention, will be provided in this section.
Research Related to RetentionRetention research consistently indicates negative implications for students at all grade levels and into early adulthood. Currently, no empirical evidence exists that repeating a grade has a positive effect on long-term academic achievement or social-emotional adjustment. Although initial achievement gains may occur, research suggests that gains decline within two to three years, after which retained students perform the same or worse than similar groups of promoted students. Additionally, students who have been retained may experience increased behavioral problems, lower self-esteem, decreased attendance, and lower academic outcomes in reading, written language, and math2. The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)1 proposes multiple explanations for the negative effects associated with grade retention. Potential causes include the absence of specific remedial strategies to enhance social or cognitive competence, a failure to address risk factors, and/or stigmatizing consequences of being over-age for one’s grade. At the secondary level, a consistently high correlation between retention and drop-out rates has been found even when controlling for academic achievement levels and increased risks of health-compromising behaviors. Lastly, longitudinal research provides evidence that retained students have a greater probability of poorer educational and employment outcomes during late adolescence and early adulthood. NASP indicates that retention is less likely to yield negative effects for students who have difficulty in school due to a lack of opportunity for instruction rather than a lack of ability. This effect is only the case if the student is no more than one year older than their classmates and the reason for the lack of opportunity (i.e., attendance, health, or mobility problems) has been resolved. Whether retained or promoted, it is strongly recommended that students receive specific remediation to address skill or behavioral deficits and encourage positive social, emotional, and academic outcomes.
Promotion Criteria for Students with DisabilitiesThe local governing board adopted standards for promotion apply to students with disabilities; however, IEP teams may choose to recommend individualized promotion standards for students with significant disabilities for whom substantial modifications to the general curriculum are made and defined in the student’s IEP. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that the IEP specify any alternative promotion standards or requirements that may be based on the student’s progress on IEP goals.
Retention of Students with DisabilitiesIf a student with exceptional needs is recommended for retention, it is suggested that the IEP team meets to thoroughly consider the impact of the disability on the student’s ability to access the general curriculum and ensure that the student has been provided appropriate services, accommodations, and/or modifications with fidelity. IDEA does not explicitly address standards for retention or promotion of students with disabilities; therefore, the decision to retain is not considered an IEP placement decision. That said, the decision to retain a student with an IEP should be carefully and cautiously considered. IEP team members may provide input; however, the final determination is often made by a school administrator in consultation with the parent/guardian(s). According to the California Department of Education (CDE)2, if a student with a disability fails to meet board-adopted or individualized promotion standards, the IEP team should reconvene immediately to consider the following (with documentation of these discussions in the IEP notes):
Alternatives to RetentionSchools are encouraged to consider a wide array of evidence-based strategies in lieu of retention. Specifically, NASP recommends that educational professionals3:
Definition of a Parent under IDEAThe 2006 IDEA Part B regulations, (34 CFR §300.30) clarify that a parent is defined as:
Divorced ParentWhen the parents of a student with a disability are divorced, the parental rights under the IDEA apply to both parents, unless a court order states otherwise. An LEA/district should obtain a copy of court decrees that might affect the parent’s right to participate or make educational decisions for the student, and to ensure participation of both parents, if appropriate.
Notice of MeetingUnder IDEA, LEAs/districts must do the following to ensure that one or both parents are present at the IEP Team meeting:
Meaningful Participation of ParentsThe parents of a student with a disability must be afforded an opportunity to participate in meetings with respect to:
Use of Interpreters or Other Action, As AppropriateThe LEA/district must take whatever action is necessary to ensure that the parent understands the proceedings of the IEP Team meeting, including arranging for an interpreter for parents with deafness or whose native language is other than English. It is advised that interpreters not serve dual roles on the IEP Team and that interpreters not be members of the IEP Team.
Parent Copy of Student’s IEPThe LEA/district must provide the parent a copy of the student’s IEP at no cost to the parent.
Conducting an IEP Team Meeting Without a Parent in AttendanceA meeting may be conducted without a parent in attendance only after multiple attempts by the LEA/district to schedule an IEP, and if the parent refuses to attend and communicates refusal to participate in the IEP process. The LEA/district should contact a SELPA Program Specialist for guidance. The LEA/district should continue attempts to include the parent. The LEA/district should keep a record of attempts to arrange a mutually agreed upon time and location as well as offers to solicit parent participation, such as:
When to Appoint a Surrogate ParentAn LEA/district shall appoint a surrogate parent for a student in accordance with 34 CFR §300.519 under one or more of the following circumstances:
When a Surrogate Parent is Not NeededThe following are instances in which a surrogate parent does not need to be appointed:
Who to Appoint as a Surrogate ParentIndividuals who may serve as surrogate parents include, but are not limited to, foster care providers, retired teachers or school district administrators, social workers, and probation officers who are not employees of the State Department of Education, the local educational agency, or any other agency that is involved in the education or care of the child. A public agency authorized to appoint a surrogate parent under this section may select a person who is an employee of a nonpublic agency that only provides non-educational care for the child. An individual, who would have a conflict of interest, for the purposes of this section, means a person having any interest that might restrict or bias his or her ability to advocate for all of the services required to ensure that the student has a free appropriate public education. A person who otherwise qualifies to be a surrogate parent under this section is not an employee of the LEA/district solely because they are paid by the LEA/district to serve as a surrogate parent. When appointing a surrogate parent, the LEA/district shall, as a first preference, select a relative caretaker, foster parent, or Court‐Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) if any of these individuals exist and are willing and able to serve. If none of these individuals are willing or able to act as a surrogate parent, the LEA/district shall select the surrogate parent. If the child is moved from the home of the relative‐caretaker or foster parent who has been appointed as a surrogate parent, the LEA/district shall appoint another surrogate parent if a new appointment is necessary to ensure adequate representation of the child. To find an approved list of surrogate parents fingerprinted and trained, please refer to the list in the SEIS Document Library.
Responsibilities/Expectations of a Surrogate ParentThe surrogate parent shall serve as the child’s parent for the purpose of the IEP process and shall have the rights relative to the child’s education that a parent has under 20 U.S.C. § 1400 (2004) and pursuant to 34 CFR §300.1. The surrogate parent may represent the child in matters relating to special education and related services, including:
Monitoring Surrogate ParentsIf a surrogate parent is not performing the duties appropriately or if the surrogate has a conflict of interest, the LEA/district shall terminate the appointment. The surrogate parent may represent the child until:
Surrogate Parent SafeguardsA surrogate parent:
Parental ConsentWhen the term consent or parental consent is used in IDEA, it has the same meaning as the term informed written consent. The following indicates that the parent has been fully informed regarding the action of the LEA/district for which parental consent is being requested:
Revocation of ConsentA parent may revoke consent for the continued provision of special education and related services at any time. The parent must provide a written statement revoking consent for special education and related services. Upon parent request, LEAs/districts may assist in writing the revocation statement. A statement of revocation of consent must include the date, student’s name, and parent’s signature. Revocation of consent applies to the entire IEP, not to just individual sections of the IEP. A parent may also revoke consent for assessment after an assessment plan has been signed. A Prior Written Notice (PWN) must be sent once the revocation statement for assessment has been received. A "Notice of Intent to Grant a Revocation of Consent" PWN template is located in the SEIS document library in the Prior Written Notice Forms and Documents section. Upon revocation of consent for continued special education and related services, the LEA/district:
When Parents Do Not Agree with One AnotherIn the case of two parents in conflict, the written consent of only one parent with educational decision-making authority is necessary to revoke consent for a child’s receipt of special education and related services. A Prior Written Notice should be sent to both parents. As long as the parent has the legal authority to make educational decisions for the child, the school district must accept the parent’s written revocation of consent. A subsequent disagreement by the other parent does not overturn the revocation. Further, a subsequent request for special education services does not overturn the revocation (unless the request is made by the parent who initiated the original revocation) and would initiate the initial assessment process. Note: Neither the school district nor the objecting parent can use IDEA due process procedures to overcome a parent’s written revocation of consent. The IDEA provides that a parent may file a due process complaint over actions by a public agency and not actions by another parent.
What is Home and Hospital Instruction?California state law affords all students enrolled in a public school the right to access the Home and Hospital Instruction ("HHI") Program. The HHI Program serves students with temporary disabilities for whom it is impossible or unadvisable to attend regular classes, regardless of their disability status. Examples of when HHI may be appropriate for a student include when the student is in the home or hospital setting for a temporary period due to pneumonia, a communicable disease, a broken limb significantly impacting mobility, or is unable to attend school due to the death of a loved one and subsequent emotional impact. *Medical documentation of a return date, written by a physician, is a required element of HHI. A temporary disability is defined as a physical, mental, or emotional disability incurred while a student is enrolled in regular day classes or an alternative education program, and after which the student can reasonably be expected to return to regular day classes or the alternative education program without special intervention" 1 (CDE Home and Hospital Instruction Program Summary). A temporary disability does not include a disability for which a student is identified as an individual with exceptional needs pursuant to EDC §56026. The primary outcome of HHI is to maintain a student at their former level of performance while recovering from the temporary disability so as not to jeopardize the student’s future performance upon returning to their education program.
Home and Hospital Instruction (HHI): EligibilityIt is the responsibility of the parent/guardian of a student with a temporary disability to notify the LEA/district of the request for Home and Hospital Instruction. If a parent/guardian notifies a school of the request, the school must determine the appropriateness of HHI services within five days of the request. Determination of a temporary disability should be based on a physician’s written description of the disabling condition for which the student cannot attend school.
|Charter Schools and Home and Hospital Instruction: Considerations for General Education|
|There is no law that expressly authorizes nor prohibits a charter school from providing home-hospital instruction. Therefore, a charter school may choose to either provide HHI services directly or work with the district of residence to ensure services are provided. Under current guidance, it is not recommended that a charter school refuse to provide HHI services if required for a student with a temporary disability to access their education. Assembly Bill 2109, which took effect on January 1, 2019, made several changes to the laws governing home-hospital instruction for students with temporary disabilities. AB 2109 authorizes, but does not require, an LEA/district to continue to enroll a pupil who is receiving individual instruction in a hospital, regardless of district boundaries, to facilitate timely reentry following the hospitalization and limit barriers to re-enrollment. AB 2109 provides a right for the student to return to the school of origin (the student attended prior to the health issue) if the student is well enough to attend school and returns prior to the end of the school year in which the home and hospital instruction was initiated. Accordingly, all schools must re-enroll a student who receives home-hospital instruction in another school district but is well enough to return during the same school year. AB 2109 also authorizes the school of origin to provide a partial week of instruction to a pupil who is receiving individual instruction in a hospital for fewer than five days per week. For example, a student receiving medical treatment in a hospital on Monday and Tuesday may receive individual instruction from the district in which the hospital is located on those days. Then, the student may receive instruction from the school of origin on Wednesday through Friday. This instruction may occur within the school setting or home, depending on the student’s level of need. It should be noted that AB 2109 particularly affects general education students with temporary disabilities. Any decision regarding the appropriateness of individualized instruction for students receiving special education services pursuant to an IEP must be made by the student’s IEP team3.|
Home and Hospital Instruction: CredentialingHHI shall be provided only by teachers with valid California teaching credentials who consent to the assignment. As a reminder, there is no provision in the statute that specifically addresses instructional content; however, the goal of home or hospital instruction should be the maintenance of the student’s former level of performance. For more information on credentialing, see California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC): https://www.ctc.ca.gov/credentials/leaflets/Ed-Specialist-Instruction-Cred-(CL-808CA)
What is Home Instruction?Home instruction is also referred to as Homebound Instruction or Instruction in the Home and is considered a placement on the continuum of services for students receiving special education services. If a student with an IEP is deemed unable to attend school due to a temporary or ongoing medical or psychological disability, the school is obligated to continue to provide special education and related services to the student during that time. Home instruction is also available to students with disabilities who are hospitalized for medical or psychiatric purposes or who cannot be educated in the public school setting due to significant health or behavioral needs which may not be temporary in nature.
Home Instruction: Eligibility, Services, and Teacher RequirementsTo qualify for home instruction, a student must have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Section 504 plan. Home instruction may only be provided under the following circumstances (5 CCR § 3051.4):
Home Instruction: CredentialingHome instruction services may include individual, small group, or virtual instruction. They must be provided by a regular education teacher or a specialist with the appropriate teaching or related services credential. There is currently no law in California requiring a parent to be home during periods of instruction; however, it may be within the best interest of the educator and student to schedule instruction while parent/guardians are home whenever possible.
What is Independent Study?Independent study provides an alternative education program available to all students across all grade levels. Independent study programs are voluntary and use alternative instructional strategies that respond to individual student needs and learning styles. Students may access independent study through a range of quality educational options that include classroom-based, hybrid, and non-classroom-based virtual programs. While a student is participating in independent study, the LEA/district is responsible for the provision of general education as well as special education and related services as deemed appropriate by the IEP team. Independent study may be offered through a variety of formats, including:
|Independent Study, HHI, HI: Quick Reference|
|Independent Study||Home and Hospital Instruction||Home Instruction|
|Brief Description||Provides an alternative education program that is available to all students across all grade levels.||Provides access to a general education curriculum for students with temporary disabilities for whom it is impossible or unadvisable to attend regular classes.||Home Instruction is considered a placement on the continuum of services for students receiving special education services.|
|Eligibility||Independent study programs are voluntary. Students with exceptional needs may participate in traditional and course-based independent study if their individualized education programs (IEP) specifically provide for such instruction. An IEP team shall not deny a request for independent study based on a student’s inability to work independently, need for adult support, or need for special education or related services. For additional information, please visit the Independent Study section of this procedural guide.||It is the primary responsibility of the parent or guardian of a student with a temporary disability to notify the school of the request for Home and Hospital Instruction, or of the student’s presence in a qualifying hospital. Medical documentation of need and return date is required. Note: there is no law which expressly authorizes nor prohibits a charter school from providing home-hospital instruction. Therefore, a charter school may choose to either provide HHI services directly or work with the district of residence to ensure services are provided. It is not recommended that a charter school refuses to provide HHI services if required for a student with a temporary disability to access his or her education.||To qualify for Home Instruction, a student must have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Section 504 plan. Placement in Home Instruction program is the decision of the IEP team. Please refer to the section above titled Home Instruction: Eligibility, Services and Teacher Requirements for specific eligibility requirements.|
|Timelines||For a student who has an IEP and wants to participate in independent study, a determination as to whether independent study is appropriate must be made within 30 days and written into the IEP.||Upon receiving notification of an HHI request from the parent, the school must determine the appropriateness of HHI services within five days of the request. The school must then begin HHI services within five days of determining eligibility. Within five days of beginning such services, the LEA/district must notify the prior LEA/district that the student is receiving HHI and the date on which HHI services began.||If a parent requests Home Instruction based on medical documentation, or if Home Instruction is deemed appropriate due to another medical or mental health need, it is recommended that the IEP team respond to the request within five days by offering IEP dates for scheduling and/or IEP meeting notice to participants. Convene an IEP meeting as soon as possible to consider the appropriateness of Home Instruction.|
School-Sponsored Non-Academic and Extracurricular ActivitiesUnder Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), LEAs/districts are responsible for providing students with disabilities equal opportunity to participate in school-sponsored non-academic services and extracurricular activities. LEAs/districts must ensure that each child with a disability is afforded an equal opportunity to participate with their non-disabled peers in school-sponsored extracurricular services and activities to the maximum extent appropriate. Additionally, the LEA/district must take steps, including ensuring supplementary supports and services, generally determined by the Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 team, are made available for that child to ensure that the child has equal access to participate in those school-sponsored services and activities. Per Section 504, an LEA/district is required to provide an individual with a qualifying disability the opportunity to benefit from the LEA/district’s program equal to that of individuals without disabilities. Under Section 504, a person with a disability is one who:
Field TripsAn LEA/district must afford students with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in school-sponsored field trips and supply the necessary supports or services for that student to participate in the field trip. In some cases, an IEP or 504 team, or the LEA/district, may determine that a student with a disability should not participate in a field trip. A determination as to whether a student with a disability can be denied the opportunity to participate in a field trip must be made on an individual basis. In these circumstances, it is critical that the district provides sufficient documentation and evidence to support why the student was prohibited from attending the field trip. An LEA/district may not exclude a student with a disability from participating in a school-sponsored field trip because of a lack of funds when such funding is made available for students in general education. Additionally, an LEA/district may not deny a student with a disability the opportunity to attend, contingent upon parent supervision. Generally, an LEA/district may not require that a parent of a student with a disability accompany the student on a field trip when parents of non-disabled peers are not obligated to attend. Although a parent cannot be required to attend a field trip, they may certainly be invited to attend. In addition, an LEA/district may not deny a student with a disability the opportunity to attend a field trip due to the school’s failure to provide the student equal notice about the planned field trip. An LEA/district may only prohibit a student with a disability from attending a field trip under the following circumstances:
|Independent Study: Compare and Contrast|
|Independent Study IS…||Independent Study IS NOT…|
|Is provided as an alternative instructional strategy.||Is not an alternative curriculum.|
|Is, and must remain, a voluntary option for students to access.||Is not a required educational program.|
|Is an educational option an LEA/district may choose and is encouraged to offer. The requirement that LEAs/districts and county offices of education offer independent study expired on June 30, 2022.||Is not an educational option an LEA/district is required to offer.|
|Is an educational program offered and monitored by an LEA/district. Students work independently under the general supervision of a credentialed teacher(s) and follow LEA/district-adopted curriculum, are aligned with grade-level standards, and meet graduation requirements. The parent is a member of the team who facilitates the implementation of the master agreement. Although they may be highly involved, the parent does not serve as the instructor.||Is not synonymous with Home School. In a home school program, all instructional needs are met solely by the family, independently of an LEA/district. The parent serves as the instructor. In order to transfer a student to a home school setting, the parent(s) must file a "private school affidavit" with CDE.|
|Is a short-term educational option for students who have health problems, are traveling for a period of time, are parents/guardians, need to work, or are child actors.||Is not synonymous with Home-Hospital Instruction (EDC §48206.3) which serves students with temporary disabilities for whom it is impossible or unadvisable to attend regular classes, regardless of their disability status. For more information about the distinguishing characteristics of IS and HHI, please visit [link to PG section with updated title.]|
|Is an alternative education program available to all students across all grade levels.||Is not synonymous with Home Instruction (HI) which is considered a placement on the continuum of services for students receiving special education services. For more information about the distinguishing characteristics of IS, HHI, and HI, please visit [link to PG section with updated title.]|
Defining Extended School Year ServicesExtended School Year (ESY) services are special education and related services provided to a student with a disability during extended school breaks. These services differ from summer school, which is an extension of the regular school year available to all students. ESY services are special education and related services provided in accordance with the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). ESY services are not provided to enhance a student’s education or to provide the best possible educational program. Additionally, ESY services are not intended as compensatory time or to help a student who has missed school. Instead, ESY services should be provided when an IEP team has determined them necessary for the student to progress and benefit from their educational program.
Legal Guidelines34 CFR §300.106 states the following about ESY services:
General GuidelinesThe following general guidelines should be considered when determining a student’s need for ESY services. The case manager may use the “ESY Eligibility Worksheets” located in the student’s future IEP on SEIS to document the IEP team’s decision-making process.
Regression and RecoupmentThe two main criteria that need to be addressed to determine if a student qualifies for ESY services are the high probability that the student will regress without additional services during the summer and, their inability to recoup that loss within 4-6 weeks (about 1 and a half months) after the start of the school year. All students will experience regression during the summer. The problem exists when a student experiences serious regression without the ability to recoup the loss. Regression refers to a decline in knowledge and skill that can result from an interruption in education; recoupment is the amount of time it takes to regain the prior level of functioning. The issue is whether the benefits derived by the student during the regular school year will be significantly jeopardized if they are not provided an educational program during the summer months.
Other Factors When Determining the Need for ESY ServicesIn Reusch v. Fountain, the court listed other factors in addition to regression and recoupment that the IEP team should consider in deciding if the student is eligible for ESY as a related service.
Types of Graduation OptionsThe graduation options available to students are determined by LEA/district board policies and must be written into a school’s charter. This may include:
|Subject Area||State Mandated Requirements for High School Graduation (EC 51225.3)||A-G Requirements (as approved by UC course approval process)||Certificate of Completion (EC 56390)|
|English||Three Years.||Four years.||Satisfactorily completed a prescribed alternative course of study approved by the district governing board and identified in the student’s IEP AND Satisfactorily met his or her IEP goals and objectives as determined by the IEP team AND Satisfactorily attended high school, participated in instruction, and met the objectives of the statement of transition services. NOTE: The above is a requirement of a standard public school, but not of a charter school. A charter school can use this Ed. Code as a guideline for determining criteria for the board approved certificate of completion option.|
|Mathematics||Two years, including Algebra I.||Three years, including algebra, geometry, and intermediate algebra. Four years recommended.|
|Social Science||Three years of social science (including U.S. history and geography; world history, culture, and geography; one semester of American government; and one semester of economics).||Two years of history/social science, including one year of U.S. history or 1/2 year of U.S. history and 1/2 year of civics or American government; and one year of world history, cultures, and geography.|
|Science||Two years, including biology and physical science.||Two years with lab required, chosen from biology, chemistry, and physics. Three years recommended.|
|Visual and Performing Arts||One year of either visual and performing arts, foreign language, or career technical education.||One year of visual and performing arts chosen from the following: dance, drama/theater, music, or visual art.|
|Physical Education||Two years||Not Applicable|
|Electives||Not Applicable||One year|
Termination of Special Education ServicesThe following table illustrates the guidelines around the termination of special education services. Prior written notice is required upon the termination of special education services for any of the situations below.
|If a student’s 22nd birthday is between January and June, the student may continue through the remainder of the fiscal year (through and ending on June 30th of that same fiscal year).||EC 56026(c)(4)(A)|
|If a student’s 22nd birthday is in July, August, or September of the new fiscal year, then the student will not be allowed to begin a new fiscal year (school year and ESY (Extended School Year) ending July 1st of the current year). However, if a student is in a year-round school program and is completing her individualized education program in a term that extends into the new fiscal year, then the student may complete that term.||EC 56026(c)(4)(B)|
|If a student’s 22nd birthday is during October, November, or December, the student shall be terminated from the program on December 31 of current fiscal year unless the student would otherwise complete their IEP at the end of the current fiscal year.||EC 56026(c)(4)(C)|
|Student graduates from high school with a regular high school diploma.||EC 56026.1(a)|
Certificate of Completion or Regular High School DiplomaThe IEP team must determine which graduation option is most appropriate for the student, given the options made available by the LEA/district as determined by the governing board. Not all LEAs/districts offer a diploma based on the state-mandated requirements; some choose to offer only diplomas based on A-G requirements or their own requirements as outlined in their charter. If the student is on track for earning a regular high school diploma, either A-G or state-mandated, then the student has until the date indicated in the table above to complete this course of study. Students may not receive a diploma if they do not meet the requirements of the types of diplomas offered as determined by the LEA/district. The LEA/district cannot deny a student a diploma based on their disability, but the student does not have a right to a diploma because of their disability either. The certificate of completion option is available to those students who are not able to complete the requirements for a regular high school diploma as offered by the LEA/district. These students are eligible for educational placement and services in accordance with their IEP until the date indicated in the above table. If the school is a charter school, the governing board of the LEA/district approves the requirements for the certificate of completion graduation option. In a standard public school, the certificate of completion option is in accordance with EDC §56390, as stated above. The graduation option chosen by the IEP team shall be documented clearly as part of the Transition Plan and marked on the Offer of FAPE- Educational Settings page of the IEP.
Additional Pathway to High School Diploma for Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities
Effective June 30, 2022, California Education Code section 51225.31 established a new high school diploma pathway exclusively for students with significant cognitive disabilities in alignment with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act ("ESSA") (20 U.S.C. § 7801(23)(A)(ii)(I)(bb)).
California High School Proficiency Examination (CHSPE)The California High School Proficiency Examination (CHSPE) is a testing program established by California law (EC 48412). Passing this test earns a student the legal equivalent of a high school diploma. The CHSPE consists of two sections: an English-Language Arts section and a Mathematics section. If a student passes both sections of the CHSPE, the California State Board of Education will award a Certificate of Proficiency, which by state law is equivalent to a high school diploma (although not equivalent to completing all coursework required for regular graduation from high school). If a student with an IEP takes and passes the CHSPE, the student is still eligible to receive educational placement and services in accordance with their IEP at the LEA/district until they meet the requirements of one of the graduation options offered by the LEA/district. For more information please visit https://www.chspe.org/.
Graduation ChecklistWhen preparing a student with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) to graduate with a high school diploma, please ensure the IEP team has completed the following steps:
El Dorado SELPAs Transportation Guidelines
California Department of Education (CDE) Special Education Transportation Guidelines
Legal Requirements Regarding Special Education TransportationEducation Code Section 56040(a) states that every individual with exceptional needs who is eligible to receive special education instruction and related services shall receive that instruction and those services at no cost to their parents1 or, as appropriate, to them. “Related services” refers to transportation and such developmental, corrective, and other supportive services required to assist a student with a disability to benefit from special education [34 CFR 300.34(a)]. Transportation as a related service includes travel to and from school and between schools, travel in and around school buildings, and specialized equipment (such as special or adapted buses, lifts, and ramps) if required to provide special transportation for a student with a disability [34 CFR 300.34(c)(16i‐iii)]. LEAs/districts should not automatically assign students to transportation based on the students’ disability without considering the student’s individual needs and the continuum of placements [Hopkinton (MA) Pub. Schs., 108 LRP 41626 (OCR 2007)]. For students with medical needs, 34 CFR 300.34(a)(ii) limits the responsibility of a public agency to appropriately monitor and maintain medical devices that are needed to maintain the health and safety of the student, including breathing, nutrition, or operation of other bodily functions, while being transported to and from school.
Length of School Day, Related Services, Extracurricular EventsThe use of alternative starting times for all special education students at a site can lead to program compliance concerns. Students receiving special education and related services must be provided with an educational program in accordance with their Individualized Education Program (IEP) for at least the same length of time as the regular school day for their chronological peer group unless otherwise stated in a student’s IEP. If a student is temporarily placed on a shortened day due to an IEP team decision, the LEA/district is required to offer transportation to the student to accommodate their modified schedule if that student is otherwise eligible for special education transportation. In addition, there may be occasions where the needs of the student require services that cannot be provided during the "established" school day. If it is determined by an IEP team that a student requires services outside the typical school day, the team must also consider whether transportation to and from the service is required. If provisions for "early" or "late" transportation are made for students within the general education program due to extracurricular events, provisions for equal opportunity to these events for students with exceptional needs who require special transportation must also be made.
Transportation in IEPsIt is the responsibility of the IEP team to determine whether transportation is required to assist a student with a disability to benefit from special education and related services, as well as how the transportation services should be implemented. Parent participation in the IEP process, including decisions relating to the least restrictive environment for transportation, is required. Denial of parent participation may result in a procedural violation that results in substantive harm to the student. The IEP document should describe the transportation services to be provided, including transportation to enable a student with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in nonacademic and extracurricular activities to the maximum extent appropriate. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act’s (IDEA’s) Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) mandate applies to all aspects of special education and related services, including the provision of transportation services. According to the comments and discussion preamble to the 2006 IDEA Part B regulations, the Education Department stated: "It is assumed that most children with disabilities will receive the same transportation provided to nondisabled children, consistent with the LRE requirements in 34 CFR 300.114 through 34 CFR 300.120 unless the IEP team determines otherwise.” LEAs/districts should start with the presumption that a student with a disability will access transportation services with nondisabled peers as long as such transportation is appropriate to meet the student’s educational needs. It is important to remember that all students, including those receiving special education instruction and services, are subject to the rules and policies governing regular transportation offerings within the LEA/district unless the specific needs of the eligible student or the location of the special education program/service dictate that special education transportation is required.
Transportation OptionsThe IEP must clearly specify how the student’s transportation needs will be met. Regarding transportation as a related service, it is recommended that services be described in sufficient detail to inform the parties of:
Participation of Transportation Personnel and Administrators/Designees in IEPsEffective practice requires that procedures are developed for communication with transportation personnel and that transportation staff are present at IEP team meetings when:
Special Education Transportation EvaluationDistricts must evaluate the student’s transportation needs prior to determining what services to provide. LEAs/districts should keep in mind that, in many instances, the results of the evaluation will be essential in designing appropriate transportation programs for students. For example, findings about motor skills, communication abilities, health, vision, and hearing are not only important in the classroom, but they also can impact the student’s ability to access transportation and may present unique needs that do not arise among the general student population. Medical evaluations of transportation needs may be necessary for some students with medically fragile needs. While some transportation requirements will remain constant, others may change in direct response to a student’s needs or other circumstances unrelated to the student’s disability. LEAs/Districts must stay responsive to such developments as they arise. Evaluation is also important when considering changes in an existing transportation program. While the student need not be observed on the school bus or other form of transportation, LESs/districts have found observation to be extremely helpful in gauging the student’s needs.
Key Considerations When Determining Need for TransportationThe case‐by‐case determination of students’ eligibility for transportation should include consideration of a student’s mobility, behavior, communication skills, physical needs, age, ability to follow directions, the distance the student will have to travel, the nature of the area, and the availability of private or public assistance. Factors that may contribute to the consideration of special education transportation may include, but are not limited to:
IEP Goals and Services to Increase Transportation IndependenceThe determination as to whether goals and objectives addressing transportation are required in a student’s IEP depends upon the purpose of the transportation. If transportation is being provided solely to enable the student to attend school, no goals or objectives may be needed. However, if transportation is provided for some other purpose related to the student’s education and the student receives instruction during the provision of the related service, then goals and objectives must be provided. For instance, if services are being provided to increase a student’s independence while in transit, goals and objectives would be necessary. When developing specific IEP goals and objectives related to the student’s use of transportation, the IEP team may wish to consider a blend of transportation services as the student’s needs evolve. Students may require ongoing assessment and refinement of IEP goals as transportation skills increase. The 2006 IDEA Part B regulations continue the requirement of travel training for some students. Travel training is "instruction, as appropriate, to children with significant cognitive disabilities, and any other children with disabilities who require this instruction, to enable them to:
Bus SuspensionOccasionally, students receiving special education services are suspended from bus transportation. The suspension of a student receiving special education services from transportation can constitute a significant change of placement if the LEA/district: