The Special Education Process: Preschool
(Children 3 to 5)
Please note that this page
being updated to reflect
that took effect October 13,
of the regulations is available in .HTML and .PDF.
Step 1: Referring your
preschool child for special education services.
If you feel your child has a disability and would benefit from a
specialized instruction program, you can refer your child to receive preschool
special education services.
How do I make a referral
for my child?
To make a referral for pre-school special education, send a written request
to the Regional Chairperson for the Committee on Special Education (CSE) in
your region. Please click
here for a list of the Regional Chairpersons for the CSEs.
Within each region, there are Committee on Preschool Special Education
(CPSE) Administrators that handle the referral process for preschool children. Click here for a list
of CPSE Administrators.
You can fax the request (be sure to save your confirmation!) or send it by
certified mail. The important thing is that you keep the proof that the letter
was sent and received by the Region.
Who else can make
referrals for my child?
You, the parent, can always make a referral for your child to receive
services from the Committee for Preschool Special Education Services (CPSE).
In addition, referrals may be made by designated persons atÖ
The State Department of Education
The Region or Community School District
Your childs school
Other public agencies that work with schools
(for example, special education service providers).
What happens after the
referral is made?
Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) will mail you a package
containing consent forms and a list of evaluation sites.
must select an evaluation site and set up an appointment for evaluations.
the first appointment. You will be asked to sign consent to have your child
(click here for more information about about evaluations
and giving consent).
you give your consent, an evaluation will be conducted and you will be notified
of the results.
A group of experts, such as special education teachers, will observe and
interact with your child in a classroom setting and will also seek input from
you, the parent, regarding your childs specific abilities and needs. Various
additional examinations may also be conducted. Please click
here for more information about evaluations.
The Department of Education will notify you of the results of your childs
evaluation, and will ask you to meet with the CPSE to discuss them. If you feel
that the tests administered were inadequate or disagree with the results, you
can request an independent educational evaluation (IEE) at
the expense of the region. If you bring the results of the IEE to the CPSE
meeting, the Committee is required to consider them when assessing your childs
CPSE will meet with you to discuss whether your child is eligible for special
After the results of the evaluations are received, the CPSE will then meet
with you to determine whether your child has a disability requiring special
education. If your child is found eligible for special education, the team will
draft an Individualized
Education Program (IEP) that describes the services your child
the CPSEs recommendation.
The Department of Education must arrange for the preschool student with a
disability to receive the recommended special education services or programs
starting with the July, September or January starting date of those approved
programs or no later than 30 school days from the date the CPSE made its
recommendation. There may be no delay in implementing a preschool childs Individualized Educational Program
Step 2: Parental consent.
Consent means that:
You have been informed in the language you
speak, or using other kind of communication that you understand, of all the
information about the activity.
understand and agree in writing to the activity. Your consent describes, in
writing, the activity to which you agree, including a list of any record(s)
that you authorize to be released and to whom.
permission is given freely and may be withdrawn at any time.
actions that were taken after consent was given but before consent was revoked
will still be considered valid (i.e., will be viewed as having been
Your consent will be
Your child will be evaluated for the first time
by the Committee on Special Education (CSE) or Committee on Preschool Special
Education (CPSE) to decide if (s)he has a disability requiring special
child is recommended to receive special education services and programs for the
child is recommended to receive twelve-month special education services
(programs during July and August) for the first time.
child will be reevaluated. (There are exceptions to this rule; see below).
school region proposes to use your private insurance. In this case, you must be
notified that if you refuse to allow the region to use these funds, the region
is still responsible to provide all required services at no cost to you.
agency other than a school requests to review records about your child. The
request for consent will include information about the records that will be
released and to whom they will be given.
decide to withdraw a referral for special education for your child.
Your consent is not required:
For the region to review, during the evaluation
process, information that is already in your childs file.
giving a test or other evaluation that is given to all students (unless parents
of all students must give consent before the test is given).
conduct a reevaluation, if the school region can show that it has taken
reasonable measures to get your consent and you have
Step 3: The evaluation
Introduction: What does
it mean to have my child evaluated?
An evaluation is a series of tests designed to assess whether your child is
eligible for special education services. Click here to learn
about the specific types of tests involved. The tests may take place at or away
from school, and are performed at no cost to you.
Even if the evaluation determines that your child is eligible, special
education will not be provided without your consent. This means that even if
you are not certain whether you want your child to receive special education
services, an evaluation can still be a useful tool for learning about your
childs abilities and needs.
After the evaluation is conducted, you will receive the results and can
meet and discuss them with school officials. Your input should be solicited and
considered carefully in determining what is best for your child. If you
disagree with the results of your childs evaluation or want more information,
you can also request an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE).
What kind of evaluations
are necessary for my child to be found eligible
for pre-school special education?
Specific tests that will
If your child is being evaluated for the first time, then the following
tests must be included as part of the evaluation:
a physical examination
a psychological evaluation
a social history
observation of your child in his or her curent
any other necessary tests (e.g., speech and
language, occupational therapy, and/ or physical therapy evaluation(s)).
If your child is being re-evaluated, the evaluation may only cover areas
where the child has a suspected disability, or where previous difficulties were
determined to exist.
Who will conduct the evaluation?
A team of evaluators will assess your childs
status and needs, and this team must include at least one person (such as a
special education teacher) who is knowledgeable about your childs suspected
The people who give the tests will be trained,
knowledgeable, and certified to give them. Where feasible, the tests must also
be administered in the language that your child speaks, or in a mode of
communication that your child uses.
Most importantly, the evaluation must include
input from you, the parent.
Click here for a complete list of the
rules governing evaluations.
Goals of the evaluation.
measure a students abilities and traits in the following areas:
performance/ learning characteristics
social and emotional development
health and physical development.
identify a students strengths and weaknesses in each of these areas, so that
parents and schools will be better able to:
Formulate realistic expectations for achievement.
Discover which teaching strategies will be most
beneficial for the child.
identify the language that should be used for instruction, and/or for any
special education services.
collect and organize information that the IEP team can use to determine a
students need and eligibility for special education services.
Complete list of rules governing evaluations: an evaluation mustÖ.
administered with parental consent.
complete in evaluating all areas of suspected disability.
fair, and not discriminate on the basis of race or culture.
more than one procedure to determine the students educational program.
a team to evaluate the students status and needs.
A group of evaluators including at least one
person knowledgable about your childs suspected disability (e.g., a special
feasible, the evaluation must be administered in the language that your child
speaks or in a mode of communication that your child uses.
people who give the tests must be trained, knowledge, and/or certified to give
What is an Independent
Educational Evaluation (IEE)?
An independent educational evaluation (IEE) means testing done by a
qualified professional who does NOT work for the Department of Education.
If you disagree with the results of the regions testing, you may ask the
region to pay the full cost of an IEE.
The region should respond to this request within
a reasonable time and, when it responds, must provide information about:
where the IEE may be obtained (including the
location of the evaluation and the qualifications of the evaluator).
any conditions that need to be met in order for
the region to reimburse the expense of the IEE.
The region may ask you to explain why you object
to the regions own evaluation, but you are not required to provide this
The region may ask for a hearing to determine
whether its own evaluation was sufficient. If the hearing officer finds that
the regions testing was adequate, you still have the right to pay for a
private evaluation and to have the results of the private evaluation considered
in determining your child's placement. However, the cost of the private
evaluations will not be reimbursed.
If the region does not request a hearing, or if
the hearing officer finds that the regions evaluation was inappropriate, then
the region must pay for your IEE.
You have a right to have the results of the IEE
considered as part of the development of your childs IEP, even if the IEE was
not paid for by the region. The results of the IEE can be used as evidence in
an impartial hearing regarding your child.
The region may not unreasonably delay your
request, and should either: provide the IEE; or, ask for an impartial hearing
to defend its own evaluation.
What is the purpose of the Pre-School
Committee for Special Education (CPSE)
After your child has been evaluated, a
Committee for Pre-School Special Education (CPSE) meeting will be scheduled
with members of the CPSE, and other individuals, to discuss your childs educational
needs. This meeting is directed towards
reviewing the evaluations, determining whether your child is eligible to receive special education services and, if
so, developing a document known as an Individualized Education Program (IEP),
which outlines your childs disability, needs, and the services to be provided.
is an Individualized Education Program (IEP)?
The Individualized Education Program (IEP) is an extremely important
document that is developed during the CPSE meeting. The aim of the IEP is to outline a set of
special education programs and services that will meet your childs unique
needs. Among other things, it tells
teachers and school administrators about your childs:
how it affects his or her progress in school.
performance in school.
All the services
your child is entitled to receive.
accommodations and modifications.
In this way, the IEP functions as a roadmap for both you and your childs
educators to ensure that his or her needs are being met.
How is it decided whether my child is
eligible for special education services?
A pre-school student with a disability is a child who, because of mental, physical,
or emotional reasons, requires special education services and programs. Unlike school-age children (children 5-21), a
pre-school child is not identified as falling within a particular category of
disability (for example, autism).
Instead, the only category is a preschool student with a disabilityî.
In order to qualify, your child must fall into one of the following general
Functional Areas. In this category, the
student exhibits a significant delayî in communication, language, cognition,
socio-emotional development, motor development, or adaptive behavior. This delay is indicated by:
A 12-month delay
in at least one functional area.
A 33% delay in
at least one functional area.
A 25% delay in
at least two functional areas.
deviations below average in at least 1 functional area on standardized tests.
deviation below average in at least 2 functional areas.
Disability. In this category, the
student falls into a more ëpermanent delay category, including deafness,
deaf-blindness, hearing impairment, orthopedic impairment, other health
impairment, traumatic brain injury, or visual impairment.
Eligibility is determined during the CPSE meeting based upon the evaluations your child has participated in, progress
reports, and observations. If the team,
which includes you, determines that the student does not qualify, he or she
will not be eligible to receive special education services.
Who will attend?
The following individuals must be included in the CPSE meeting:
of the school district who is qualified to provide or supervise special
representative (a parent of a child with a disability who lives in the school
who can interpret the evaluations.
If your child is
transitioning from the Early Intervention
Program (EIP), a designated representative.
Other individuals that may attend:
of the municipality where your child lives.
You and anyone
you invite who has special knowledge or expertise about your child.
Do I have a right to attend?
You are an integral member of the CPSE team that will decide which special
education services and programs are right for your child. You know your child better than anyone else
and you have valuable information to bring to the discussion. When a CPSE meeting is held, you, the parent,
are a member of the team making decisions. You should feel free to give
information and opinions about what your child needs. You will work with the
other members of the team to make sure that special education programs and
services are provided to meet your childs needs.
For these reasons, the CPSE meeting is very important and you should make
every effort to attend. If you cannot
attend, you have the right to ask the Committee for Pre-School Special
Education or the Community Based Support Team at your childs school to change
the time or place of the meeting.
How should I prepare for the
You are an important part of the CPSE team and preparing for the discussion
is important to ensure that your childs interests are adequately
addressed. In order to get ready for the
meeting, you should:
Obtain copies of
your childs evaluations, as well as any related reports. Look them over. You are entitled to receive copies of these
reports prior to the CPSE meeting.
Get to know the
range of services and programs available.
Click here for more information.
Get to know the
nature of your childs disability.
anyone who knows your child and may have relevant information to come to the
Where will it be?
meetings are generally held either at the regional office of the Committee for
Pre-School Special Education or at the site where the child was evaluated.
Step 5: Placement and Provision of Services
How is placement determined?
During the Committee for Pre-School Special
Education (CPSE) meeting, a document called an Individualized
Education Program (IEP) will be written.
The aim of this document is to identify a set of programs and services
that will meet your childs unique special education needs. It is based upon all the information garnered
in preparation for the meeting, including evaluations, progress reports, and
The CPSE Administrator will locate a preschool program or service providers
who can deliver the services listed on your childs IEP. You will be notified of the recommendation
and have an opportunity to accept or decline the
Some other principles are important in determining the appropriate
Your child must
be placed in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) that can meet his or her
here for more information.
be as close as possible to your home.
Unless it would not meet your childs unique needs, he or she should
attend the same school he or she would have if non-disabled.
to be made according to functional groupingî.
Click here for more information.
provides that placement decisions must be reviewed on an annual basis. Click here for
more information about annual reviews.
What does Least Restrictive Environment
Your child must be placed in the Least
Restrictive Environment (LRE) that can meet his or her unique special education
needs. To the greatest extent possible,
your child should be educated alongside students who are not disabled and
placement in special classes or schools should only occur when necessary to
meet your childs educational needs. In
the range of services and programs available to your child, general education
is considered the least restrictive environment, while hospitalization or
residential programs would be considered the most restrictive. Click here to
learn more about the range of services available.
As a parent, can I refuse a placement?
As a parent, your consent is required for your child to be placed in a
special education program or service.
Hopefully, your active participation in the
decision-making process during the CPSE meeting will ensure that your child
is offered an appropriate placement.
However, if you disagree with a recommended placement, then you should
contact the Committee for Pre-School Special Education (CPSE) and ask for an
services and programs are available?
For preschool children with disabilities, special education services can be
delivered in your home, day care, a regular preschool program, or other early
childhood program in which you have enrolled your child. The following table outlines the range of
special education programs and services available to your child. Your child may be placed in one of these or,
alternatively, recommended a mix of several services. Click here to learn what the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) means.
Related Services are
defined as "developmental, corrective and other support services"
that are required to assist students with disabilities so that they can
benefit from the lessons that are given to them. Related Services are
intended to help your child do the following:
- Meet the objectives of his or her
- Get involved in the general education
- Experience success in his or her classroom
- Be educated with non-disabled students who are
Related services may
include but are not limited to:
- Hearing educational services
- Occupational therapy
- Orientation and mobility Services
- Physical Therapy
- School health services
- Speech/language therapy
- Vision education services
Special Education Itinerant Teacher Program (SEIT)
Provided by a certified
special education teacher for at least 2 hours each week. May be provided at any location, including
a pre-school, daycare center, therapists office, or childs home. Generally, special education preschool
children receive the services within their general education classroom.
The SEIT teacher comes into the classroom to deliver the required
services. However, SEIT is also often provided in the home when there
are no preschool slots available.
Special Class in an Integrated Setting
Child attends school in an
approved pre-school program that includes children with and without
disabilities. The classroom usually
has at least one special education teacher , one general education teacher
and one paraprofessional. The two
teachers collaborate throughout the day, ensuring that the entire class has
access to the general education curriculum.
It is generally provided
full-time, but may be provided less than the entire day, particularly where
schools operate by changing classes on a subject-by-subject basis.
Special Class In a Community School
The child attends school
in an approved pre-school program that has only students with
disabilities. This setting includes children
with disabilities whose needs cannot be met in the general education
Children are generally
grouped by similarity of educational needs.
Classes may include students of different disabilities, provided they
have similar academic and learning needs, social development, physical
development, and management needs.
12-Month Special Program or Services
Some students may need an
"extended school year" or a "twelve month school year" so
that their progress during the school year is not erased during the
summer. Students at risk of sliding back may not be able to maintain
developmental levels due to a loss of skill or knowledge during the months of
July and August. This loss may be so severe that it will require a
reevaluation at the beginning of the school year to reestablish and to
maintain IEP goals and objectives that they had already mastered at the end
of the previous school year.
Consideration For Twelve Month School Year Service:
- Students with severe multiple disabilities
whose programs consist primarily of habilitation and treatment
- Students who are recommended for home and
hospital instruction, whose special education needs are determined to be
highly intensive, and who require a high degreed of individualized attention
- Students whose needs are so severe that they
can be met only in a seven-day residential program
- Students whose management needs are deemed
highly intensive, who require a high degree of individualized
- Students receiving other special education
services who, because of their disabilities, exhibit the need for a
twelve-month special service and/or a program provided in a structured
learning environment of up to 12 months duration in order to prevent
If a twelve month program
or services is determined to be necessary for a student, that need must be
specified in the students IEP.
Each year, your childs Individualized Education
Program (IEP) should be reviewed to determine whether the child is making
progress. This process parallels that of
the initial Committee for Pre-School Special
Education (CPSE) meeting. If the
team determines that your child still requires special education services and
programs, then a new IEP will be written and an appropriate placement will be located.
Two other points should be kept in mind:
You may request
a review of the IEP at any point you believe a change of services is necessary.
placement cannot be changed without notice to you.
Is your child about to turn 5 and is already receiving special education
services in pre-school?
If so, then you should prepare for your
childs transition to school-age special education. This process is often referred to as the
Turning 5 Evaluationsî. Click here for
more information on this process.
Transitioning from Pre-School to School-Age
Special Education (Turning 5 Evaluationsî)
If your child has been receiving pre-school special education programs or
services, you and the Committee on Pre-School Special Education (CPSE) will
need to discuss your childs school program before he or she enters
kindergarten. The process for this
transition is outlined in the table below.
It is very important that this process is completed in the spring before
your child enters kindergarten so that you will have a chance to visit and
evaluate any placement recommended for your child. If there are delays at any point in the
process (for example, if you have not received a notice of referral by
February), you should contact the regional CSE.
Informational Meeting. In
November, an informational meeting will be organized for parents of pre-school
children in order to explain the transition process. It is highly recommended that you attend
Referral. If your child (1) has been receiving special
education services in pre-school and (2) will require special education
services in kindergarten, then the pre-school program your child attends
should refer your childs case to the regional Committee on Special Education
Notice. Shortly after your child has been referred to the Committee
on Special Education (CSE), you should receive a letter titled Notice of
Referral for Review of IEPî. This
letter states that your child has been referred to the CSE and that his or
her case has been opened.
In addition to the
pre-school program your child attends, parents, surrogate parents, and other
parties may refer a child for special education services. Accordingly, if you have not received this
notice by February, you should make a referral in writing, in order to ensure
your childs needs are given appropriate attention.
Turning 5 Evaluationsî. Once
the referral has been made, the CSE will evaluate your childs need for
special education programs and services.
These evaluations are often called the Turning 5 Evaluationsî. In order to evaluate your childs needs,
the CSE will look at reports from teachers and therapists, and observe your
child in class. In addition, an
updated social history and psycho-educational evaluation will likely be
Want to know more about
the evaluation process? Click here.
After the evaluation
process has been completed, a meeting will be scheduled and a team will meet
to determine whether your child is eligible to receive school-age special
education services. If the team
determines that your child is eligible, then it will write an Individualized
Education Program (IEP) outlining the services your child will receive in
Want to know more about
the CSE meeting? Click here.
Placement. If your child is found to be eligible for services and
an Individualized Education Program (IEP) has been authored, then the
Committee for Special Education (CSE) will locate an appropriate kindergarten
program for your child.
Once a placement has been
located, you will be sent a letter notifying you of the recommendation for
placement. Click here to see a Sample
of this document, often called a C-6î letter.
At this point, you have
the right to visit the recommended school or program and decide whether to
accept the placement.
If you do accept the placement,
then you and your child have successfully transitioned from pre-school
special education services to school-age special education services.
Want to know more about
placement? Click here.
Want to know what will
happen in upcoming years? Click here.