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Questions and Answers

  1. What is special education?

Special education is instruction that is specially designed to meet the unique needs of children who have disabilities. Special education and related services are provided at no cost to the parents and can include special instruction in the classroom, at home, in hospitals or institutions, or in other settings. This definition of special education comes from IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. This law gives eligible children with disabilities the right to receive special services and assistance in school.


  1. Who is eligible for special education?

Children with disabilities are eligible for special education and related services when they meet IDEA’s definition of a “child with a disability” in combination with state and local policies. IDEA’s definition of a “child with a disability” lists 13 different disability categories under which a child may be found eligible for special education and related services. These categories are listed below. 


TEA’s Categories of Disability




Hearing impairment

Intellectual disabilities

Multiple disabilities

Orthopedic impairment

Other health impairment

Serious emotional disturbance

Specific learning disability

Speech or language impairment

Traumatic brain injury

Visual impairment, including blindness


  1. What happens during an evaluation?

The district will evaluate your child in all the areas where your child may be affected by the possible disability. This may include looking at your child’s health, vision, hearing, social and emotional well-being, general intelligence, performance in school, and how well your child communicates with others and uses his or her body. The evaluation is individualized and full and comprehensive enough to determine if your child has a disability and to identify all of your child’s needs for special education and related services if it is determined that your child has a disability.


  1. How does the school collect this information?

The school collects information about your child from many different people and in many different ways.  The evaluation will include:

  • the observations and opinions of professionals who have worked with your child;
  • your child’s medical history, when it relates to his or her performance in school; and
  • your ideas about your child’s school experiences, abilities, needs, and behavior outside of school, and his or her feelings about school.


  1. What does the school do with these evaluation results?

All of the information about your child will be used:

  • to decide if your child is eligible for special education and related services; and
  • to help you and the school decide what your child needs educationally.


  1. If your child is eligible to receive Special Education Services, what is an IEP?

IEP stands for Individualized Education Program. This is a written document that describes the educational program designed to meet a child’s individual needs. 


The IEP has two general purposes: (1) to set learning goals for your child; and (2) to state the supports and services that the school district will provide for your child.


  1. What happens during an ARD(Admission, Review, Dismissal) meeting?

During the ARD meeting, the different members of the ARD team share their thoughts and suggestions. If this is the first IEP meeting after your child’s evaluation, the team may go over the evaluation results, so your child’s strengths and needs will be clear. These results will help the team decide what special help your child needs in school.