Special Education and Related Services

What is Special Education? 

Special Education services  are offered to students from ages 3 through 21 who qualify according to the laws and regulations outlined by the State of Rhode Island Board of Education for Elementary and Secondary Education Regulations Governing the Education of Children with Disabilities and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Special education, by definition is "specially designed instruction, at no cost to parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability. (300.39)  A student may qualify for special education services in one of thirteen areas identified by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004).  These are:

Hearing Impaired
Visually Impaired
Specific Learning Disability
          • Other Health Impaired
          • Deafness
          • Autism Spectrum Disorder
Multiple Disabilities
Orthopedically Impaired 
Intellectual Disability  
          • Speech-Language Impaired   
Traumatic Brain Injury 
          • Deaf-Blindness   
          • Emotional Disturbance

The Referral Process     

                                           Common Evaluations in Special Education  
Educational Evaluation 
Educational evaluations are used to determine the student’s general knowledge in the areas of reading, writing, and mathematics.  Educational evaluations are administered by Special Educators in a one-on-one test setting with the  student.  Often one Educational test battery is used to gather this information; however, additional sub-tests may be administered to gain more detailed information about a student’s profile of strengths and needs.  The selection of evaluation tools is determined by the Special Educator conducting the evaluation.  Common educational tests include the Woodcock-Johnson (general educational battery), Key Math, Gray Oral Reading, and the Test of Written Language (TOWL).

Psychological Evaluation
A comprehensive psychological evaluation is used to develop a multi-faceted picture of how a student thinks, learns, and approaches new information.  This may consist of a number of evaluation procedures including test batteries, rating scales, observations, and interviews.  The selection of evaluation tools is determined by the School Psychologist conducting the evaluation.  Common components of psychological evaluations include:
• Cognitive Batteries – A battery of tests administered one-on-one with a student to measure general intellectual functioning (e.g., Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-WISC V  Wechsler Individual Achievement Test-WIAT, the Vineland, WISC Non-Verbal).
• Memory Battery– A battery of tests that is administered one-on-one with a student to assess memory ability as well as attention and concentration (e.g. Wide-Range Assessment of Memory and Learning- WRAML).
• Measures of Social and Emotional Functioning - Rating scales given to parents, teachers, and/or the child that measure numerous aspects of behavior and personality.  This may include symptoms of Inattention, Hyperactivity, Depression, Anxiety, trouble with interpersonal relationships, and self-reliance.  Examples of scales used include the Behavior Assessment Scale for Children (BASC), the Conners, and the Children’s’ Depression Index (CDI).
• Measures of Executive Functioning - Rating scales given to parents and/or teachers that measure executive functioning (a collection of processes that are responsible for guiding, directing, and managing cognitive, emotional, and behavioral functions, particularly during active, novel problem solving).  This helps determine a child’s ability to function in areas such as inhibiting impulsive behaviors, organizing materials, and planning long term projects (e.g., the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Functioning-BRIEF).
• Measures of Adaptive Skills - Rating scales given to parents and/or teachers that provide a picture of adaptive skills across the lifespan and look at areas such as communication, community use, functional academics, school and home living, health and safety, leisure, self-care, self-direction, and social skills (e.g., the Adaptive Behavior Assessment System- ABAS).
• Interviews - May be conducted with teachers, parents, and/or the student
Observations - May take place in a number of settings such as the classroom, cafeteria, and school-wide activities

Social History
The Social History consists of an interview with one or both of a student’s parents or guardians and the School Social Worker.  This interview is used to gather background information about the student including family history (e.g., members of the family, where the family has lived), environmental or family stressors, and the student’s early development and medical history.  Parents also provide their perception of their child’s academic and social abilities.

Clinical Psychological Evaluation
At times, a more comprehensive psychological assessment may be necessary to gain a better understanding of a child’s functioning in school.  In these instances, a Clinical Psychological evaluation is requested.  These evaluations are completed by a licensed Clinical Psychologist.  The psychologist will often interview parents, teachers, and/or the student, observe the student, and review the school’s files.  Occasionally, additional evaluations (e.g., test batteries or rating scales) may be completed.

                                                                           The IEP Process