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Special Education

Understanding the Special Education Process

10 Basic Steps in Special Education (NICHCY)
This document from NICHCY does an outstanding job at breaking down the special education process into ten basic steps to make it easily understandable for individuals not already familiar with special education.

Disability Awareness Newsletter (CSMH)
This newsletter reviews signs of a learning disorder and offers strategies to help those students in the classroom.

Evaluating Children for Disability (NICHCY)
This document from NICHCY provides more information and resources related to the initial evaluation process needed to consider eligibility for special educati

Special Education Services for Preschoolers with Disabilities (NICHCY)
This document provides basic information and links to resources related to helping children ages 3 to 5 related to evaluation and access to special education services.

State Evaluation Timelines for Special Education (COPAA)
This document provides a summary of state timelines for being in compliance with special education deadlines.  There is some variability related to these deadlines across states.

Understanding the Special Education Process (LD Online)
Provides nationally-relevant information on how to understand the eligibility and testing process, along with key terms to know when requesting testing for your child

Definitions of Key Terms in Special Education

Key Terms to Know in Special Education (NICHCY)
This glossary provides definitions for common terms used within the special education process.

Support, Modifications, Accommodations for Students (NICHCY)
This document provides a more detailed definition of what is actually meant by supports, modification, and accommondations.

Understanding the Individualized Education Program (IEP)

All About the IEP (NICHCY)
This document from NICHCY provides comprehensive information in an easy to understand format about the Individualized Education Program (IEP)

Contents of the IEP (NICHCY)
This Powerpoint presentation highlights the different components of an IEP.

Laws Related to Special Education (NICHCY)
This summary document from NICHCY provides information about the laws that are important to ensuring the rights of individuals with disabilities.

Related Services (NICHCY)
This document describes commonly implemented supports for students receiving special education services, and provides further information on related services.

U.S. Department of Education Guide to the IEP
Published by the Department of Education, the site provides detailed information on what the IEP looks like, including team members, available services, and deliverables.

State Examples of Navigating the Special Education System


Special Education Handbook (Maryland Disability Law Center)
Provides a comprehensive overview of special education law for children ages 3-21 on topical areas like eligibility, the IEP, and educational placement

Understanding Special Education and Advocating for your Child (MANSEF)
Published by the Maryland Association of Nonpublic Special Education Facilities (MANSEF), this document provides a comprehensive overview on how to navigate the special education process and advocate for your son/daughter's educational needs.

New Jersey

Your Child's Right to Special Education
Developed by Legal Services of New Jersey, this page provides information about how to navigate the New Jersey special education system.


Whose IDEA Is This?: A Parent's Guide to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA)
This guide from the Ohio Department of Education's Office for Exceptional Children simplifies the language of the Individuals with
Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA) to main points that will help parents be an partner in their child’s education.


Still a Good IDEA!
Provides a comprehensive overview of the special education process for parents, including sample letters for requesting special education testing and evaluations.  (Please note this presentation predates the Reauthorization of IDEA 2004)

Teaching Strategies and Tips

150 Ways to Show Kids You Care (Search Institute)
This handout provides 150 ideas of how adults can show kids that they are cared about.

Behavior Modification in the Classroom (LD Online)
A great resource for teachers and parents on popular approaches in successful management of student behavior in the classroom.

IEP and Inclusion Tips for Parents and Teachers (Developed by Anne I. Eason, Esq. and Kathleen Whitbread, PhD)
A comprehensive and user-friendly guide that provides systematic strategies in becoming more active and successful participants in the IEP.

Telling the Teacher: What I Want my Child's Classroom Teacher to Know (PACER)
This action information sheet provides tips for teachers about what parents of students with disabilities may want them to know about their children.

Tips for Teachers: Teaching Students with Disabilities (NICHCY)
This document
provides educators with strategies on how to effectively teach children with ADHD, Autism/Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Learning Disabilities, Mental Retardation, and Traumatic Brain Injuries.

Tips for Teachers, Principals, and School Support Staff from Students with Mental Health and Behavioral Disabilities (PACER)
This outstanding document provides suggestions from students with mental health and behavioral disabilities on how they would like teachers, principals, and school support staff to treat them.

Effective Collaboration

Improving Family Involvement in Special Education: Opportunities and Solutions for Improving Family Involvement (Council for Exceptional Children)
This page provides suggestions on how to improve collaboration wtih families of students receiving special education services.

Targeting Home-School Collaboration for Students with ADHD (LD Online)
Information on how to successfully collaborate with the school in supporting your child's IEP goals in the classroom and at home

Understanding 504 Plans

504 Plans: Information for Educators (MSMHA)
This document provides a definition of a 504 Plan for educators, as well as links for further information and resources.

Discrimination: Section 504 and ADA
This update from highlights legal questions and policy related to 504 plans.

Understanding the Differences between IDEA and Section 504 (Council for Exceptional Children)
This brief overview highlights unique aspects of 504 plans.

Relevant Research in Special Education

Facts from NLTS2: School Behavior and Disciplinary Experiences of Youth with Disabilities
Data from the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2) that provide a national picture of disciplinary experiences at the secondary school level of youth with disabilities, offering a perspective on youth who exhibit problem behaviors at school and on schools’ implementation of disciplinary actions.

Relevant Research in Special Education (CSMH)
This document highlights key findings from the literature related to special education, with an emphasis on youth with emotional disturbance.  These findings provide a foundation for better understanding the current status of special education in the United States.