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The Three Prongs of Special Education Eligibility: A Guide to Navigating the Assessment Process  

by | Dec 12, 2023 | Eligibility | 0 comments

Understanding the Three Prongs

The foundation of special education eligibility rests on three prongs: the presence of a disability, an adverse impact on educational performance, and the requirement for special education and related services. Collectively, these prongs form the basis for the IEP team when making informed decisions about a student’s eligibility. Remember, school psychs need to emphasize the necessity, not just the potential benefit, of special education for the student. 

The Changing Landscape of Documentation

In the earlier years of my career, interventions and pre-referral processes played a significant role in guiding assessments. Today, the landscape has shifted, and many school psychologists find themselves in different roles, often without the same level of involvement in pre-assessment meetings. This evolution poses challenges in accessing and documenting crucial contextual information. Take the initiative to be involved in the pre-referral process by attending student study team meetings, or working with the staff that do.

Harnessing Contextual Information for Informed Decisions

Beyond individual student data, contextual information is a valuable asset in the assessment process. While only some school psychologists may have the luxury of attending every meeting, understanding how to access and interpret contextual information can enhance decision-making. This includes comparing a student’s progress to their peers, reviewing student study team meeting notes, and speaking with the student’s teachers, all offering a broader perspective on student needs.

Interested in diving deeper into the three prongs of special education eligibility and discovering practical strategies for documenting assessment findings?

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  • The evolving landscape of documentation in special education.
  • Harnessing contextual information for informed decisions.
  • Explaining evaluation results effectively to parents and teams.

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