9. SLP Dismissal / Exits

Knowing state special education exit criteria as reflections of IDEA 2004 can go a long way to help school speech therapists dismiss children from their caseload and control misidentification.

It is important to appreciate the fact that exit criteria in schools do overlap with those of pre-service clinical training but they are different in critical ways. The chief difference is that a disabled child is evaluated in terms of “progress in the general curriculum.” A child who is able to perform at grade level academically may not be eligibility for special education.

Example: A child who is emotionally disturbed, or appears to be, might be placed in a program for gifted children. The fact that above-average progress in the general curriculum is being made indicates he or she is not a disabled pupil. A similar pattern can arise for autism spectrum children.

Example: A bright male who is difficult to manage in the classroom is not automatically eligibility under Other Health Impairments.

Example: A child who has a mild articulation problem and who is on grade level does not qualify for special education services. Parents can seek therapy off campus. Special education is not a remedial service.

A key test of the PROGRESS-IN-THE-GENERAL-CURRICULUM standard is whether an at-risk child can participate in on-going classroom lessons with peers. If comprehension and production are good enough for the teacher to reach her instructional goals, and performance is at grade level, the child should be dropped from special education.

IDEA 2004 recommends classroom assessments for eligibility determinations. Such information can be used to document progress in the general curriculum.

When a child can participate in classroom lessons, progress in oral speech and language development is supported, especially through literacy instruction. Generalization of learning can move in both directions.

IEP teams do not usually understand the concept of progress in the general curriculum. They need coaching. IEP team members think needs and disability trump general education and least restrictive environment.

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