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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.

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

Psychological Evaluations (National Association of School Psychologists)
This article provides information for parents to understand the purpose, strengths, and limitations of the psychological evaluation process.

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.

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.

Understanding 504 Plans

504 Plans: Information for School Clinicians (MSMHA)
This document provides a definition of a 504 Plan for clinicians, 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.

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.

Improving Student Behavior

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.

Clinical Practice in Special Education

Anger Management Protocol (CSMH)
A cognitive behavioral group intervention protocol for students with exceptional learning needs

Tips for Clinicians Working with Students Receiving Special Education Services (CSMH)
Ten extensive and innovative guidelines for clinicians who are working with students receiving special education services

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

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.