Examine the eligibility evaluation process for children with mild to moderate disabilities based on the IDEA.

Week 2 Discussion Eligibility Evaluation Process

This discussion is your opportunity to demonstrate your understanding of the objective: Examine the eligibility evaluation process for children with mild to moderate disabilities based on the IDEA.  The discussion represents an introduction to Course Learning Outcome 2 and the MASE Program Learning Outcome 6.

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Since September, Mr. Franklin and you have been co-teaching superstars, creating a trusting professional relationship that was built on a foundation of strong communication.  After school one day, you discuss Henry, a student who is falling behind his peers during his Language Arts class.  He started school a few weeks after the beginning of the school year, without any records from his previous school.  You and Mr. Franklin have noticed that while reading silently, he struggles with answering grade-level comprehension questions.  During group activities, Henry sits quietly while his peers actively participate.  You agree with Mr. Franklin that Henry is never a behavior problem and really shines during gym and art class.

Initial Post: Create an initial post that discusses how Henry’s lack of academic progress may contribute to a continual decline in reading comprehension and higher level thinking skills.  Explain, in detail, the potential ‘next steps’ in determining if a disability under one of the 13 categories under IDEA is present.  Use your text and additional resources as scholarly support for your writing.

Instructor Guidance

Week Two


After a few months teaching with Mr. Franklin, you have gotten to know your students well. You appreciate each one for their unique strengths and abilities that contribute to the classroom learning environment. You and Mr. Franklin have noticed that while reading silently, Henry, one of the students, struggles with answering grade-level comprehension questions. During group activities, he sits quietly while his peers actively participate. Step 1: Identify- You decided to talk with the other teachers about Henry’s success in their classes, and his parents about homework completion and his willingness to read at home. You implement strategies that seem to help Henry in his other classes and keep a record of his test scores and classroom observation notes. In addition, you provide his parents with ideas for reading practice at home. You also ask them to keep a journal of his progress. This team of experts including his other teachers, parents, Henry, you and Mr. Franklin make up an important group of multidisciplinary representatives who want to find ways to support his learning and progress. This team decides to meet again in four weeks to review his progress with new strategies in his class and at home. During the second team meeting, it is determined through the review of the available data that Henry hasn’t made any additional progress. Step 2: Evaluation- As a team and with the parents’ written permission, it is recommended that Henry be provided a series of assessments due to his inability to make sufficient progress. An assessment of this kind is the process of gathering information about a child to make decisions about a potential disability, strengths, weaknesses, and areas of need. Henry is given a comprehensive multidisciplinary evaluation to assess his areas of academic strength and potential needs. These formal assessment s are conducted by trained school psychologists and special education teachers. The IDEA specified certain rules related to the process of assessment including that the procedures must

· Be provided in the child’s primary language;

· Be administered by trained and knowledgeable personnel who can also explain the results;

· Have validity, measuring what it’s supposed to measure, and reliability, accurately measuring what it’s supposed to measure;

· Include a variety of tools and strategies; and

· Not be discriminatory.

Figure 1: Image modified from Stepbystep_icon_web.png, 2013

Because Henry’s records have not yet been received from his previous school district, there are no records to review other than what his current teachers have accumulated. The process of working collaboratively to obtain the most accurate information on Henry’s strengths and areas of need are essential to the outcome of his evaluation as well as his potential eligibility for special education and related services. Step 3: Eligibility Determination- At the conclusion of the formal evaluation, you create a report on the educational achievement findings that include standard scores and a narrative explaining the assessment results. The other assessment findings are obtained through the formal evaluations conducted by the school psychologist and help to determine the specific needs of the child. During this process, the special education teacher has an important contribution to this overall findings.

The standard score, between one and 100, ranks a student’s performance as compared to other students who have taken the same assessment. It is a useful statistic because it allows professionals to calculate the probability of a score occurring within a normal distribution. Additionally, these scores provide an objective view of the student’s abilities and a consistent manner of comparing skills. If other assessments were required by the IEP team, these reports would also be included by other service providers such as the speech & language pathologist and likely would include standard scores as well.. The below chart explains a potential range of standard scores, specific to an academic assessment commonly given to school-aged children, the Woodcock-Johnson III.

Standard Score Range Classification
131 and higher Very Superior
121-130 Superior
111-120 High Average
90-110 Average
80-89 Low Average
70-79 Low
69 and below Very Low

Step 4: Disability Identified– If Henry is found to have a disability that negatively impacts his education based on the federal eligibility criteria, a team of school professionals, the parents, and Henry meet to discuss the results and to create an Individualized Education Program (IEP). In this case, the written document that would include goals and services is known as the IEP written plan. Henry’s parents are concerned that if he does have a mild to moderate disability, what type of characteristics should they be aware of? What type of learning difference does he display? How can the teachers help him at school? You begin by showing them, along with Henry, a short video on Learning Disabilities (Links to an external site.) to introduce various factors, which explains potential causes of learning disabilities. This is good background information for your work in this program and in your careers in the field of special education. After watching the video, you sit down with his parents to continue the discussion of characteristics, especially those pertaining to Henry’s profile as was identified in his current classroom performance, behavior, and assessment results. You begin by explaining that of all children identified with a mild to moderate learning disability, approximately 90% of this population receive services related to reading problems (Heward, 2010). Although in many cases there is no known cause for a mild to moderate learning disability, such as reading; however, certain academic characteristics are consistent with this type of mild disability. Therefore, you emphasize that oftentimes the cause of a learning disability is unknown, but with remediation, individualized support such as special education and related services, many students are able to close the learning gap.

In Practice

Once gaining written permission from Henry’s parents, you administer the educational assessment, the Woodcock-Johnson III Education Assessment, to evaluate his academic performance. This test measures multiple areas such as word identification skills, reading sentences, perform paper and pencil math, write orally presented words correctly, understanding of written text, as well as others. With the results, you write a report in parent-friendly language that summarizes Henry’s current performance in reading, math, and language (see the Week Two assignment for additional information on his evaluation report).

· Letter-Word Identification: Henry was asked to read a list of words beginning at his level of independence and gradually becoming more difficult. He scored within the low average range (standards score: 90).

· Word Attack: Henry was asked to decode (phonetically pronounce) a list of nonsense words using letter patterns that gradually advanced in difficulty. He scored within the low average range (standard score: 87).

· Passage Comprehension: Henry was asked to read a passage (beginning at his level of independence) silently and then verbally provide the omitted word. This subtest measured Henry’s level of reading comprehension. He scored within the low range (standard score: 78).

· Reading Vocabulary: Henry was asked to provide the antonym (opposite) and synonym (same) for two separate vocabulary lists, and then he was asked to complete analogies. He scored within the low range (standards score: 76).

· Writing Fluency: Henry was asked to formulate and write sentences comprised of three given words along with a picture within a seven-minute time frame. He scored within the low average range (standards score: 76).

· Writing Samples: Henry was asked to formulate sentences that combine visual and auditory information. There is no penalty, in this subtest, for basic writing, spelling or punctuation errors. He scored within the average range (standard score: 92).

· Math Calculation: Henry was asked to complete basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division equations gradually advancing in difficult to more complex computations involving decimals, fractions, and geometry. He scored within the average range (standards score: 95).

· Math Fluency: Henry was asked to complete simple addition, subtraction and multiplication facts within a three-minute timeframe. He scored within the average range (standard score: 90).

Strengths: Henry’s strengths are in math calculation and math fluency where he scored in the average range. He also excelled in completing the “Writing Samples” and “Letter-Word Identification” subtest that requires visual and auditory information input. Areas of Need: Based on the assessments administered, it is evident that Henry struggles in the areas of reading and vocabulary comprehension as indicated by his “low” score in each of the following subtests as denoted above. These scores indicate an area of need in demonstrating vocabulary and reading comprehension skills. Although considered low-average, Henry also struggled with phonetics of non-sight words in the “Word Attack” subtest (standard score: 87).

Week Two Discussion Guidance

Before a student can be assessed for service eligibility covered under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, a team of stakeholders such as the special educator, general educators, parents and other people who may be involved in the student’s overall well-being and education convene to determine potential strategies for academic and/or social improvement, and to set a date to reevaluate progress. For this week’s discussion board, think about Henry’s progress in your class and what may be some potential reasons for his lack of progress. Use this week’s required and recommended resources to guide your thinking. Specifically review the information in your text regarding students with mild intellectual disabilities on pages 86-92, students with an emotional disturbance on pages 134-138 and students with specific learning disabilities on pages 162-167. Then explain the potential “next steps” in determining if Henry has a mild to moderate disability that is eligible for special education services under IDEA. Please review the discussion board rubric prior to your initial post to ensure you are fully meeting each of the set criteria to earn full credit. Your initial post should include relevant professional, personal, or other real-world experiences in a manner that is rich in thought and provides valuable insight into the topic. Additionally, all elements of the discussion board prompt should be thoroughly addressed with strong and precise connections to previous and/or current course content, or to real-life situations. When substantively replying to your peers’ post, be sure to provide a thorough and constructive analysis relating the response to relevant course concepts that incorporates pertinent follow-up thoughts or questions about the topic, and demonstrates respect for the diverse opinions of fellow learners.

Week Two Assignment Guidance

After you have followed the procedures for identifying a student who may have a disability, the next step is to gather information through multiple assessments, observations, and conversations. The educational assessment is only one tool that is used in the evaluation process. For the Week Two assignment, you will create Henry’s background using the information provided in the case study within this guidance including identifying a potential diagnosis of a mild to moderate disability based on his assessment results and the overall impact the disability may have on his academic success. Make sure to use the Grading Rubric as a self-checklist before submitting the final copy of your assignment to confirm you have met or exceeded each required expectation. The highest level of achievement on the rubric is “distinguished”, which is only earned through exceeding posted expectations at the proficiency level. Please remember you are in a masters-level program. Therefore, your writing, research, and content are held to graduate-level expectations.


Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities. (n.d.). Learning disabilities (Links to an external site.). Retrieved from http://www.learningdisabilities.org.uk/help-information/learning-disability-a-z/l/learning-disabilities

National Association of Special Education Teachers. (n.d). Characteristics of children with learning disabilities (Links to an external site.). NASET LD Report #3. Retrieved from https://www.naset.org/fileadmin/user_upload/LD_Report/Issue__3_LD_Report_Characteristic_of_LD.pdf

Poonawala, Z. [Zahra Poonawala]. (2012, September 21). Learning disabilities (Links to an external site.) [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/3eJwU7GpqXs

Stepbystep_icon_web.png (Links to an external site.) [png Image]. (2013, August 5). Retrieved from http://wiki.dpconline.org/images/e/e8/StepByStep_icon_web.png

Required Resources


Henley, M., Ramsey, R. S., & Algozzine, R. (2009). Characteristics of and strategies for teaching students with mild disabilities . Upper Saddle River, N.J: Pearson

· Chapter 2: Overview of Students with Mild Disabilities

· Chapter 3: Students with Mild Intellectual Disabilities (pp. 86-92)

· Chapter 4: Students with Emotional Disturbance (pp. 134-138)

· Chapter 5: Students with Specific Learning Disabilities (pp. 162-167)


National Association of Special Education Teachers. (n.d). Exceptional students and disability information (Links to an external site.). NASET Resources. Retrieved from https://www.naset.org/index.php?id=exceptionalstudents2

· This online resource offers a list of common psychological, educational and social characteristics of students diagnosed with a mild disability. Consider exploring the additional resources NASET has to offer. Accessibility Statement does not exist. Privacy Policy does not exist.

National Association of Special Education Teachers. (n.d). Characteristics of children with learning disabilities (Links to an external site.). NASET LD Report #3. Retrieved from https://www.naset.org/fileadmin/user_upload/LD_Report/Issue__3_LD_Report_Characteristic_of_LD.pdf

· Although all children are unique, those with common diagnosed disabilities have commonalities among academic and behavior deficits. The following article outlines some prevalent characteristics of students diagnosed with a learning disability. Accessibility Statement does not exist. Privacy Policy


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