Special Education in Texas Public Schools

Instructor: Fola Rae
Public schools in Texas are prepared to meet the needs of special education students by following a process for evaluating students and determining the services they require. Read on to learn more about this process and get info on helpful special education resources.

Texas Special Education

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), children with disabilities have the right to be given a free and appropriate public education. For special education students in Texas, this means that the following steps will be taken to ensure they can attend school with others:

  • An evaluation is conducted to determine if a student qualifies for special education
  • An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is created to satisfy a student's educational needs
  • A determination is made about which type of environment will allow a student to receive the services outlined in his/her IEP

Student Evaluations

At the request of parents or teachers, a student can be referred for an evaluation to determine if he/she belongs in a special education program due to a qualifying disability. These include impairments associated with hearing, seeing, learning, speaking, movement or behavior.

Student evaluations generally involve testing students to determine whether they perform as well as or more poorly than other students in the same grade. Information from the testing gives the evaluators an idea of what a student's academic weak areas are and why he/she is experiencing difficulty in those areas. Student evaluations can also help school staff determine what support an individual will need in the classroom.

Individualized Education Plan

Once a student is determined eligible for special education, a team of people called an Admission, Review and Dismissal (ARD) committee will work on developing his/her IEP. The IEP generally includes learning goals appropriate for a student's grade and ability level as well as instructions for how student progress will be measured.

Parents also work with the ARD committee to make decisions about whether extracurricular activities will be appropriate for their child and, in some cases, determine how he/she will make the transition from high school to college, work or independent living. It is required by law in Texas that the information for transition services be included in an IEP by the time a student reaches the age of 14.

Additionally, an IEP is designed to tell teachers and school staff members what classroom modifications, services and physical aids a student will need to help him/her complete classroom and homework assignments during each school year. IEP's are evaluated on a yearly basis to determine whether the children have been receiving the assistance they need.

Parents have to attend meetings with the ARD to discuss the educational services required for their children and agree to what is outlined in the IEP. Some of the services that might be recommended are outlined below.

Services Related to Special Education

Special education services can include things like extended school year services, special transportation arrangements, help with medication administration and access to assistive technologies, like chairs that can be adjusted, books that have bigger font sizes and computers with talking programs installed.

Special education students may also need to attend sessions with speech, physical or occupational therapists who can help them meet the functional goals outlined in their IEPs. Other students might need to have social workers assigned to their families or may benefit from counseling services.

Student Placement

Whenever possible, special education students must be placed in a classroom with children who do not have disabilities. If students' curriculum requirements and service needs will not allow them to learn in an inclusive classroom setting, the parents and the ARD committee can ask for students to be placed in an environment where they can receive the accommodations that will allow them to learn. It is important for special education students to be placed in schools that are convenient for them to get to, if possible.

Special Education Resources

Study.com offers a number of resources about special education that you can access at your convenience, including these lessons outlining current trends in special education.

If you're interested in becoming a special education teacher, or just want to supplement what you already know by watching videos and taking short quizzes, check out Resources for Teaching Special Education and Teaching Students with Learning Disabilities.

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