Student Services

Special Education Services

Sunset Ridge School District provides a full continuum of special education services from age 3 through 8th grade.

Special Education Eligibility

The Student Services Department in District 29 utilizes the Response to Intervention approach, to determine eligibility for special education services and provide for the needs of all children in our district. Within student services, special education eligibility is viewed as one part of a continuum of services and options available to support students in need. Our goal is to strengthen the whole general education system by providing a supportive array of interventions, disseminated through a problem solving process, and continuously evaluated through data-based decision making.

In Illinois, there are 13 categories under which a child may qualify for special education services. Those categories include: Autism, Deaf-Blindness, Deafness, Emotional Disability, Hearing Impairment, Intellectual Disability, Multiple Disabilities, Orthopedic Impairment, Other Health Impairment, Specific Learning Disability, Speech/Language Impairment, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Visual Impairment.

In order to qualify for Special Education services under the category of SPECIFIC LEARNING DISABILITY in one or more of the eight academic areas below, the team must use valid and reliable tools to analyze and, when necessary, collect data to determine whether the student has a dual discrepancy and educational need defined as:

a) Significant skill discrepancy in one or more of the eight academic areas below,

b) Lack of significant improvement in the skill area(s) given high-quality instruction in reading and/or math

c) and significant educational need requiring resources beyond what general education can provide

a.Significant Discrepancy

Evidence from multiple reliable and valid sources indicate that the student’s current achievement* of State-approved Grade-Level Expectations is significantly different than his/her peers relative to national normative data with consideration of state and local data when provided with learning experiences and instruction appropriate for the child’s age or state approved grade level. (*after provision of appropriate general education learning experiences including intensive interventions implemented with fidelity).

b. Educational Progress

The student does not make sufficient progress to meet age or State-approved Grade Level Expectations, based on child’s limited responsiveness to intensive scientific, research-based interventions, which have been implemented with fidelity.

Insufficient progress is determined using multiple reliable and valid measures. The process of determining insufficient progress considers the student’s rate of improvement towards meeting age or State-approved Grade Level Expectations during intensive intervention, student’s past rate of improvement, and a normative rate based on the response of his/her local age peers with consideration of national data.

Oral expression Listening comprehension
Written expression
Basic reading skills
Reading fluency skills
Reading comprehension
Mathematics calculation
Mathematics problem solving

(3) Determination for Special Education Eligibility

On the basis of the findings regarding the student’s response to intervention (Achievement and Educational Progress) and the above considerations, a determination can be made whether the student qualifies for special education under the category of specific learning disability AND needs special education and related services. Students that do not meet the eligibility criteria under IDEA may be evaluated for eligibility under Section 504.

Individualized Education Plan (IEP) Versus 504 Plans

There are two types of legally binding educational plans which can be developed and implemented by public schools to support students with disabilities.

Students with disabilities that impact a major life function may qualify for reasonable accommodations, under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of1973. This is commonly referred to as a 504Plan. The plan identifies the student's disability and the corresponding reasonable accommodations. A 504 Plan should be updated annually, and is subject to re-evaluation for eligibility every 3-years.

Services for students with disabilities requiring that specialized instructional services (beyond accommodations) are governed by IDEIA via the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). Currently, ISBE identifies 13 categories for special education eligibility under IDEIA. Regardless of the category under which eligibility is sought, a student must both a) show evidence of the disability and, b) show evidence of educational impact. For more information of the protected disability categories and the IEP process, please visit the Special Education web-page of the ISBE.

In brief, the IDEIA eligibility process is more involved than that required under Section 504. Instructional services, goals, and accommodation under the IDEIA are delineated in a plan called an Individualized Education Program (IEP). The IEP is a legal document which describes the student's disability, instructional supports/accommodations, goals, related services, and other relevant educational programming information. IEPs are reviewed annually and students must be reevaluated for special education eligibility every three years.

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