Special Education Definitions

Criteria for Independent Evaluation
Early Childhood Special Education

Early Childhood Special Education is available to children ages birth through six if they meet any of the 12 disability definitions listed above, or if they demonstrate a Developmental Delay (i.e. a substantial delay or disorder in development, or have a condition or impairment that inhibits normal development, with specific criteria defined for birth-age 2 and age 3-age 6).

Extended School Year Services

Extended School Year (ESY) is not the same as summer school. Districts are not required to offer summer school, whereas they are required to offer ESY to students who meet the ESY eligibility requirements.

Although the specific reason(s) vary from student to student, the need for ESY arises when it is determined the student: 1) requires a significant amount of time to recoup a previously acquired skill or knowledge following an extended break from instruction and/or services; 2) the pupil is at a critical learning period and interrupting instruction and/or services will severely jeopardize the student’s ability to benefit from their program of specialized instruction; or 3) the break will prevent a student who is in a functional curriculum from attaining or maintaining self-sufficiency skills that allow for personal independence.

Federal Settings

Federal settings indicate what percentage of the day a student is educated separate from their typically developing peers, i.e. outside of the general education classroom. The following indicate the percentage of time in unique settings indicated by each Federal Setting:

  • Federal setting 1: up to 21% of day
  • Federal Setting 2: 21‐60% of day
  • Federal Setting 3: greater than 60% of day
  • Federal Setting 4: Public separate-site day school greater than 50% if the day
  • Federal Setting 5: Private separate-site day school greater than 50% if the day
  • Federal Setting 6 & 7 refer to residential placements
  • Federal Setting 8: Homebound or hospital placement
Individual Education Plan (IEP)

An Individual Education Plan (IEP) is a legal document that defines the educational goals and services that have been determined by an IEP Team to address the educational needs of a student with an identified disability. The team consists of (at minimum) a special education teacher licensed in the student’s disability area, a general education teacher, the parent, and a school administrator or their designee.

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)

The Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) is the educational setting with as much access to education with typically developing peers as appropriate, while also appropriately meeting the student’s educational needs derived from their disability.