Students who are suspected to have a disability requiring special education must be evaluated to determine if they have a disability and if they are eligible to receive special education services. Students are eligible to receive services starting from age 3 through the end of the school year that they turn 21 (See DPI Guide to Special Education Forms - Notice of Ending of Services Due to Age).
Special Education Referral
This process begins with a referral stating that it is believed the student has a disability and the reasons this assumption is being made. Referrals can be made to determine eligibility for either Special Education or Section 504. (If the student has a disability requiring accommodations that can be met in the general education setting, typically a Section 504 referral is made.)
Evaluation and Eligibility Criteria
Evaluation is an essential beginning step in the special education process for a child with a disability. Before a child can receive special education and related services for the first time, a full and individual initial evaluation of the child must be conducted to see if the child has a disability and is eligible for special education. Parents must be informed through the Notice of Referral before this evaluation may be conducted. The evaluation process is guided by requirements in our nation’s special education law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and state eligibility criteria. The Center for Parent Information and Resources is a useful site to help guide parents through the process.
Individualized Education Program (IEP)
Once a student is determined to have a disability & require Special Education (and possibly Related Services), an IEP is developed that documents the student's disability, how it affects progress in the general education environment, the student's present level of performance, annual goals toward improving performance & special education services the student will require.
Click Here for the Forms Needed Guide for various IEP related events
Link to a list of Referral, Evaluation and IEP Forms
Link to the DPI Guide to Special Education Forms
Link to a guide to key dates throughout the process