Related Services and Over-identification

We see there are too many children placed in special education, and often incorrectly. States allow great latitude for local school decision-making, with variable results. Who are the decision makers? What are their relative contributions to placing a child in special education? Is there much known about the process?

Related services personnel (counselor, interpreter, medical personnel, occupational therapist, mobility specialist, physical therapist, rehabilitation counselor, school health personnel, transportation specialist, social worker) with exceptions do not make major decisions for child eligibility (IDEA 2004). They contribute evaluation data and opinion but defer to the determinations of the IEP team.

The related services having direct responsibilities for recommending special education eligibility include audiology, speech-language pathology, psychology and early intervention personnel:

Audiologist: “Identification of children with hearing loss.”

Speech-language pathologist: ” Identification of children with speech or language impairments.”

Early intervention: ” Early identification and assessment of disabilities in children means the implementation of a formal plan for identifying a disability as early as possible in a child’s life.”

Psychologists: “Administering psychological and educational tests, and other assessment procedures”

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