Summary of the evaluation/Sp Ed process and Terminology


-Alisha Leigh-
Member # 7106
posted 01-27-2002 11:57 PM

This is a quick overview of the evaluation/Special Education process written in lay language. I found it helpful in trying to put it all together.

Also note the link for Special Education terminology on this same page. If you miss it, the terminology page address is:

The Council for Disability rights
Disabilities covered under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
If a child is determined to have one or more of the following disabilities, the school district can obtain federal and state funding for services it provides for the child.
chronic or acute health impairment
cognitive impairment
emotional/behavioral disorder
hearing/visual impairment
learning disability
orthopedic/health impairment
speech/language impairment
traumatic brain injury
visual impairment
irregularities and impairments in communication
engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements
resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines
unusual responses to sensory experiences
Chronic or Acute Health (Otherwise Health Impaired)
limited strength, vitality or alertness due to chronic or acute health problems, such as limited alertness, heart condition, tuberculosis, rheumatic fever, nephritis, asthma, sickle cell anemia, hemophilia, epilepsy, lead poisoning, leukemia or diabetes
based on physician's opinion regarding existence of disability that affects the student's ability to function
may include children with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
Cognitive Impairment
student's performance falls at or below 2.0 standard deviations in basic skills and aptitude, and
student shows significant deficiencies in adaptive behavior, including social adjustments inside and outside school
Emotional/Behavioral Disorder
inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory or health factors
inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers
inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances
general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression
tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems

Hearing/Visual Impairment
as determined by audiologist or otologist, student's hearing is at or below a 20 decibel HL threshold (ANSI, 69) or worse for one or more of the frequencies 500-4000 Hz
residual hearing is not sufficient to enable student to understand the spoken word and to develop language normally
hearing loss prevents full awareness of environmental sounds and spoken language, limiting normal language acquisition and learning achievement
corrected visual acuity poorer than 20/70 in the better eye, cortical blindness, and/or no apparent response to visual stimulation and
sensorineural hearing loss or a permanent conductive hearing loss with aided sensitivity of 30 DB or worse bilaterally

Learning Disability
severe discrepancy between normal or near normal potential and academic achievement in at least one of the areas of basic reading skill, reading comprehension, written expression, expressive language, mathematical reasoning or calculation, or listening comprehension, that is not primarily due to visual, hearing, orthopedic, cognitive, or emotional/behavior disabilities or to environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage
"severe discrepancy" means at least 15 points on standard score comparisons of ability and achievement or a minimum of 1.75 standard deviation difference, taking regression and 1.65 standard errors of measurement into account
Orthopedic/Health Impairment
impairments caused by congenital anomaly, disease, and other causes (e.g. cerebral palsy, amputations, fractures or burns which cause contractures)
Speech / Language Impairment
speech-language impairment in articulation, language, voice, or fluency, as determined by a certified speech-language pathologist on the basis of results from a complete speech-language assessment
Traumatic Brain Injury
injury to the brain caused by external physical force or internal occurrence (e.g. stroke or aneurysm), 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
does not include brain injuries that are congenital, degenerative or induced by birth trauma
Visual Impairment
as determined by an optometrist or ophthalmologist, central visual acuity is 20/;70 or worse in the better eye with correction or the peripheral field subtends an angle not greater than 20 degrees at its widest diameter
Protections and Accommodations Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, prohibits public schools from discriminating against students with disabilities and imposes an affirmative duty on schools to ensure that students with disabilities receive a free, appropriate public education. Section 504 defines disability as "physical or mental impairments which substantially limit one or more major life activities".
"Physical or mental impairments" means any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigure-ment, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the follow-ing body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive, digestive, genito-urinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine; or
any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities (as defined in the IDEA)
"Major life activities" include such functions as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working. [See more comprehensive listing of major life activities at: ]
Since all disabilities covered by IDEA fall within this definition, students with an IDEA disability are protected by both IDEA and Section 504. Section 504's protections apply to a wider population. Therefore, if a child does not have an IDEA disability, s/he is covered under Section 504 and entitled to protections and accommodations to ensure s/he receives a free, appropriate public education. However, the Rehabilitation Act does not provide funding to school districts to provide special education or related services.

See this web page for more details: