Frequently Asked Questions

What is special education?

Special education is "specialized instruction" provided for students who are determined to have a specific disability.  It may be provided by one or several special education teacher(s). Also, related specialists will sometimes assist in the program planning or direct services for a child. 

What are the different eligibility categories of special education?

  • Autism

  • Deafblind

  • Deaf/Hard of Hearing

  • Emotional and Behavioral Disorder

  • Intellectual Disabilities (Mild, Moderate, Severe, Profound)

  • Orthopedic Impairment

  • Other Health Impairment

  • Significant Developmental Delay 

  • Specific Learning Disability

  • Speech-Language Impairment

  • Traumatic Brain Injury

  • Visual Impairment and Blindness

How is a child referred to special education?

All students in Georgia schools participate in evidence-based instruction that is developed based on grade level Georgia Performance Standards. When students struggle in the general education curriculum, Tier 2 and, if needed, Tier 3 interventions are provided. At Tier 3, data is collected to determine the students’ responses to interventions that have been implemented. Students who do not make progress with the individual interventions Special Education Rules Implementation Manual Georgia Department of Education Richard Woods, Georgia’s School Superintendent Page 27 of 228 All Rights Reserved provided at Tier 3 may be referred for an evaluation to determine eligibility for special education and related services. Consequently, in essence, Tier 3 serves a Child Find responsibility for students who may need special education and related services. Students in private schools, home schools, and charter schools, who are referred for special education services, should also have documentation of these prior interventions to assist in the determination of eligibility for special education services. Child Find is a critical part of the special education process for all children suspected of having disabilities. With the implementation of the Pyramid and the focus on progress monitoring and response to interventions, only those students who are not making progress, despite evidence-based instruction, will be referred to special education to determine their eligibility. 

What steps occur following a referral to special education?

Parents are always contacted and informed of the reason for a referral. The reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (June 1997) outlines specific steps and procedures which must follow a referral to Special Education. The steps include parents' involvement and are:

  • Written copy of Parents' Rights are given to the parents

  • Permission to evaluate is requested

  • Assessment(s)

  • Development of a Special Education Plan for each student, if applicable

  • Permission to place in Special Education (if appropriate)

  • Periodic review of the child's program

  • Periodic reassessment of the student's strengths and weaknesses

Are other services available?

 Yes! When appropriate, services are offered in the areas of: psychological evaluation, physical therapy, occupational therapy, related vocational instruction, specialized transportation, assistive technology devices and services, audiological services, nutrition services, social work services, etc.

Where are students with disabilities served?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that students with disabilities, to the maximum extent possible, are educated with students who are not disabled. This requirement includes children who are publicly placed in public or private institutions or psychiatric care, group homes, or state-operated hospitals in Georgia. Only when the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in general education classrooms with supplementary aids and services cannot be satisfactorily achieved can students with disabilities be moved to other settings such as special classes or separate schooling. Regardless of where services are being provided, students with disabilities are expected to continue to have access to the GPS for their grade level, and teachers are expected to maintain high expectations for student performance in meeting the standards (Georgia Rule 160-4-7-.07).

Who do I contact if I have more questions about special education?

Your child's principal or the system's special education director.