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Section 8

ak dept education

special ed handbook

SECTION 8
ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA FOR DISABILITY CATEGORIES

States must have in effect policies and procedures designed to prevent inappropriate overidentification or disproportionate representation by race or ethnicity of children with disabilities, including particular disability categories.

Listed below are the criteria for the 14 disability categories that must be used to determine whether a child demonstrates a disability and is in need of special education and related services. The presence of a disability is not sufficient to establish eligibility for special education. The disability must result in an educational deficit that requires specially designed instruction (i.e. special education).
  1. Autism
    To be eligible for special education and related services as a child with autism, a child must: 
    1. exhibit a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and non-verbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age 3, that adversely affects educational performance; and
    2. require special facilities, equipment, or methods to make the child's educational program effective; and
    3. be diagnosed as autistic by a psychiatrist, physician, or psychologist; and
    4. be certified by a group consisting of qualified professionals and a parent of the child as qualifying for and needing special education services.
    5. characteristics of autism include:
      1. irregularities and impairments in communication.
      2. engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements.
      3. resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines.
      4. unusual responses to sensory experiences.
    6. A child who manifests the above characteristics after age 3 may be diagnosed as having autism.

      Note: A child identified with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) should not be determined eligible under the category of "Autism", but may be found eligible under another category by the team.

  2. Deafness
    To be eligible for special education and related services as a child with deafness, a child must:
    1. exhibit a hearing impairment that hinders the child's ability to process linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification and that adversely affects educational performance; and
    2. require special facilities, equipment, or methods to make his or her educational program effective; and
    3. be diagnosed by a physician or audiologist as deaf; and
    4. be certified by a group consisting of qualified professionals and a parent of the child as qualifying for and needing special education services.

  3. Deaf-Blindness
    To be eligible for special education and related services as a child with deaf-blindness, a child must:
    1. exhibit concomitant hearing and visual impairments, the combination of which causes such severe communication and other developmental and educational problems that the child cannot be accommodated in a special education program solely for deaf or blind children; and
    2. require special facilities, equipment, or methods to make his or her educational program effective; and
    3. be diagnosed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist and by a physician or audiologist, as appropriate, as deaf-blind; and
    4. be certified by a group consisting of qualified professionals and a parent of the child as qualifying for and needing special education services.

  4. Early Childhood Developmental Delay
    To be eligible for special education and related services as a child demonstrating an early childhood developmental delay, a child must:
    1. be not less than 3 years old nor more than 8 years of age; and
    2. be certified by a group consisting of qualified professionals and a parent of the child as qualifying for and needing special education services by meeting the following criteria:
      1. function at least two standard deviations below the national norm or 25% delayed in age equivalency in at least one of the following areas:
        • cognitive development
        • physical development which includes fine and gross motor
        • speech or language development which includes expressive and receptive language, articulation, fluency, voice
        • social or emotional development and
        • adaptive-functioning, self-help skills; or
      2. function at least 1.7 standard deviations below the mean or 20% delayed in age equivalency in two or more of the five areas in “b” above;
      3. have learning problems that are not primarily the result of bilingualism, cultural difference, environmental disadvantage, or economic disadvantage; and
      4. require special facilities, equipment, or methods to make the child's educational program effective.

        When evaluating the child, if it is clearly not appropriate to use a norm-referenced instrument, another instrument, such as a criterion-referenced measure, may be used to document the delay.The determination of a delay and the detrimental effect on the child's daily life and educational performance shall be based on qualitative and quantitative measures, including developmental history, basic health history, observation of the child in multiple environments, and supportive evidence of how the disability adversely affects education performance.If the District decides not to use the criteria for early childhood developmental delay as outlined above, the District shall apply the eligibility criteria of one of the other disability categories in this section in determining the child's eligibility for special education and related services. The category early childhood developmental delay should not be used when the child clearly meets the eligibility for another disability category.

  5. Emotional Disturbance
    To be eligible for special education and related services as a child with emotional disturbance, a child must:
    1. have a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects educational performance:
      1. an inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors;
      2. an inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers;
      3. inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances;
      4. a generally pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression; or
      5. a tendency to develop physical symptoms of fears associated with personal or school problems.
    2. require special facilities, equipment or methods to make his or her educational program effective; and
    3. be diagnosed as emotionally disturbed by a psychiatrist or psychologist; and
    4. be certified by a group consisting of qualified professionals and a parent of the child as qualifying for and needing special education services.

      Note: The term includes children who are schizophrenic but does not include children who are socially maladjusted unless it is determined that they have an emotional disturbance. It is important to distinguish children demonstrating an emotional disturbance from children with other behavior problems. Appendix J provides some clarification of terminology to assist in making these distinctions.

  6. Hearing Impairment
    To be eligible for special education and related services as a child with a hearing impairment, a child must:
    1. exhibit a hearing impairment, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects educational performance but is not within the meaning of deaf; and
    2. require special facilities, equipment, or methods to make his or her educational program effective; and
    3. be diagnosed by a physician or audiologist as hard of hearing; and
    4. be certified by a group consisting of qualified professionals and a parent of the child as qualifying for and needing special education services.

  7. Specific Learning Disability
    To be eligible for special education and related services as a child with a learning disability, all of the following six components must be addressed:
    1. The child must exhibit a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations.

      The term specific learning disability:
      1. includes such conditions as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.
      2. does not include children who have learning problems that are primarily the result of a visual disability; motor disability; hearing disability; mental retardation; emotional disturbance; environmental, cultural or economic disadvantage.
    2. The group of qualified professionals and a parent of the child must show that:
      1. The child demonstrates limited academic achievement for his or her age and ability levels in one or more of the following areas when provided with learning experiences appropriate for the child's age and ability levels: oral expression; listening comprehension; written expression; basic reading skills; reading comprehension; reading fluency; mathematics calculation; mathematical problem solving. As evidenced by:
        1. The child does not make sufficient progress to meet age or State approved grade level standards in one or more areas identified above when using a process based on the child’s response to scientific research-based intervention.
        2. The child exhibits a pattern of strengths and weaknesses in performance, achievement, or both, relative to age, State approved grade level standards or intellectual development that is determined by the group using approved assessments.

          Note: LEAs are not required to consider whether a child has a severe discrepancy between achievement and intellectual ability when determining whether a child has a learning disability and permitting LEAs to use a response to research-based intervention as part of an evaluation process and may permit the use of the other alternative research-based procedures for determining whether a child has a specific learning disability.
    3. The team must also ensure the following:
      1. At least one team member, other than the child's regular teacher, must observe the child's academic performance in the regular classroom setting;
      2. In the case of a child who is of less than school age or is out of school, a team member must observe the student in an environment appropriate for a child that age; and,
      3. The observation report must document the name and title of the observer, as well as the date and place of the observation. This report must also be attached to the Evaluation Summary and Eligibility Report (Appendix C).
    4. The group of qualified professionals and a parent of the child must prepare a written report of the evaluation results that includes statements of:
      1. Whether the child has a specific learning disability;
      2. The basis for making the determination;
      3. The relevant behavior(s) noted during the observation of the child;
      4. The relationship of the behavior(s) to the child's academic functioning;
      5. Medical information, if any, related to the child's educational functioning,
      6. The nature of the severe discrepancy between intellectual ability and academic achievement or lack of response to intervention which is not correctable without special education and related services; and,
      7. The determination of the team regarding the effects of environmental, cultural, or economic factors on the child's academic performance.

        The report must be dated and team members must indicate their agreement or disagreement with the report's conclusions, and then sign the report. A team member who disagrees with the conclusions of this report must submit a separate statement of his or her own conclusions.
    5. The student must require special facilities, equipment, or methods to make his or her education program effective.
    6. The student must be certified by a group consisting of qualified professionals and a parent of the student as qualifying for and needing special education services.

  8. Mental Retardation
    To be eligible for special education and related services as a child with mental retardation, a child must:
    1. score two or more standard deviations below the national norm on an individual standardized test of intelligence; and
    2. exhibit deficits in adaptive behavior manifested during the developmental period that adversely affect the child's educational performance; and
    3. require special facilities, equipment or methods to make his or her educational program effective; and
    4. be diagnosed as mentally retarded by a psychiatrist or psychologist; and
    5. be certified by a group of qualified professionals and a parent of the child as qualifying for and needing special education services.

  9. Multiple Disabilities
    To be eligible for special education and related services as a child with multiple disabilities, a child must:
    1. exhibit two or more of the impairments described in this section, the combination of which causes such severe education problems that he or she cannot be accommodated in a special education program for solely one of the conditions; and
    2. require special facilities, equipment, or methods to make his or her educational program effective; and
    3. be diagnosed as described in this section for each condition; and
    4. be certified by a group consisting of qualified professionals and a parent of the child as qualifying for and needing special education services that cannot be provided in a program for a single condition set out in this section.

      Note: The term multiple disabilities does not include deaf-blindness. Children with multiple disabilities exhibit two or more severe disabilities that are likely to be life-long, significantly interfere with independent functioning, and necessitate environmental modifications to enable the individual to participate in school and society. A learning disability and speech or language impairment does not constitute a multiple disability. Likewise, a child with mental retardation who receives speech therapy as a related service would not be found eligible under this category.

  10. Orthopedic Impairment
    To be eligible for special education and related services as a child with an orthopedic impairment, a child must:
    1. exhibit a severe orthopedic impairment, including impairments caused by a congenital anomaly, disease or other causes, that adversely affects educational performance; and
    2. require special facilities, equipment, or methods to make his or her educational program effective; and
    3. be diagnosed by a physician as orthopedically impaired; and
    4. be certified by a group consisting of qualified professionals and a parent of the child as qualifying for and needing special education services.

  11. Other Health Impairment
    To be eligible for special education and related services as a child with a health impairment, a child must:
    1. exhibit limited strength, vitality, or alertness, due to chronic or acute health problems such as a heart condition, tuberculosis, rheumatic fever, nephritis, asthma, sickle cell anemia, Tourette Syndrome, hemophilia, epilepsy, lead poisoning, leukemia, or diabetes; or a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli due to Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) that adversely affects educational performance;
    2. require special facilities, equipment, or methods to make his or her educational program effective; and
    3. be diagnosed by a physician; and
    4. be certified by a group consisting of qualified professionals and a parent of the child as qualifying for and needing special education services.

  12. Speech or Language Impairment
    To be eligible for special education and related services as a child with a speech or language impairment, a child must:
    1. exhibit a communication disorder, such as stuttering, impaired articulation, a language impairment, or a voice impairment, that adversely affects educational performance; and
    2. require special facilities, equipment, or methods to make his or her educational program effective; and
    3. be diagnosed by a physician, speech-language pathologist, or a speech-language therapist as speech or language impaired; and
    4. be certified by a group consisting of qualified professionals and a parent of the child as qualifying for and needing special education services.

  13. Traumatic Brain Injury
    To be eligible for special education and related services as a child with a traumatic brain injury, a child must:
     
    1. exhibit an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force, resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial maladjustment, or both, that adversely affects educational performance. The term includes open or closed head injuries resulting in mild, moderate, or severe impairments in one or more areas, including cognition; language; memory; attention; reasoning; abstract thinking; judgment; problem-solving; sensory, perceptual and motor abilities; psychosocial behavior; physical functions; information processing; and speech. The term does not include brain injuries that are congenital or degenerative, or brain injuries induced by birth trauma; and
    2. require special facilities, equipment, or methods to make his or her educational program effective; and
    3. be diagnosed by a physician as having a traumatic brain injury; and
    4. be certified by a group consisting of qualified professionals and a parent of the child as qualifying for and needing special education services.

  14. Visual Impairment
    To be eligible for special education and related services as a child with a visual impairment, a child must:
    1. exhibit a visual impairment, not primarily perceptual in nature, resulting in measured acuity of 20/70 or poorer in the better eye with correction, or a visual field restriction of 20 degrees as determined by an optometrist or ophthalmologist, that even with correction, adversely affects educational performance; or
    2. exhibit a physical eye condition that affects visual functioning to the extent that specially designed instruction is needed; and
    3. require special facilities, equipment, materials, or methods to make his or her educational program effective as determined by a teacher of students with visual impairments; and
    4. be certified by a group consisting of qualified professionals, which includes a certified teacher of students with visual impairments, and a parent of the child as qualifying for and needing special education services.

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