Not Eligible for Special Education

  • A Parent’s Guide for when a child does not qualify for special education services

    By Erin N. King, Ed.S., Nationally Certified School Psychologist

    The testing has been completed, the eligibility team has met, and your child was found ineligible for special education services. This should not be the end of the road. If there was even an eligibility meeting to begin with, this means that there were valid concerns and difficulties that probably still need to be addressed. However, these problems will need to be addressed using an avenue other than special education. It would be wise at this point to have a meeting with the teacher and other school personnel to determine what can be done within regular education to address the issues presented. This could mean more involvement in a remedial program, a new behavior plan, extra tutoring, or any other intervention.

    Common reasons a child might be found ineligible for special education services
    • Your child does not meet criteria for one of the disabilities recognized within special education.The school is required to follow federal guidelines in determining eligibility for special education. Each disability has a federal definition and a strict set of guidelines for determining if a student meets that definition. Some school districts are more flexible with those guidelines, some follow them strictly. If a student does not meet the criteria for a disability, he or she will not be eligible to receive special education services.
    • Your child has a disability, but there is not a documented educational impact.If a student is has a diagnosed disability, it does not automatically mean a child will receive special education services. The disability must be creating an adverse effect on education. The way a school measures this adverse effect on education will vary. Some schools compare educational testing to cognitive testing to see if the child is learning to his or her ability level. Other schools will use grades or more qualitative information.
    • Your child learns more slowly than other children, but does not qualify for Specific Learning Disability.Testing revealed that your child has difficulty learning, struggles to learn new concepts, and it has greatly impacted educational performance. Despite these difficulties, special education services can not be obtained because this is not considered a “disability.” These are the students who will need the most support within the regular education environment.