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Moving Up! The Process of Exiting a student from special education

Updated on August 9, 2016
Dean Traylor profile image

Dean Traylor is a freelance writer and teacher. He wrote for IHPVA magazines and raced these vehicles with his father (who builds them).

IEP and the data it provides often help special educators make the decision to exit a student from special education services
IEP and the data it provides often help special educators make the decision to exit a student from special education services | Source

The last days of the school year is fast approaching. Yet, a special meeting for Edwin and his mother has been scheduled by the case-carrier. This meeting is extremely important; one of the most important event in Edwin's entire educational career to be more precise. It's an individual education program (IEP) meeting, in which the his educational goals, growth, and other services will be reviewed, discussed, and rewritten for the upcoming year. However, this IEP will different; it may be his last, ever.

Reports from the teachers, assessments from the school psychologists, and other information gathered by the case-carrier (including the latest report card and standardized test results) indicates that Edwin no longer needs special education services. This time, all members of the IEP team are ready to exit him from these services.

To “exit” -- in special education jargon -- means to dismiss a student from special education services. The process is similar to the typical IEP; however, the outcome is different. And, is often met with adulation from everyone involved in the meeting; including the student at the center of the process.

Qualification for an exit from special education services occurs in the following manner:

1. The IEP team agrees special education are unwarranted.

2. The student's parents request termination of services,

3. Diagnostics and standardized tests conducted by teachers, school psychologists, and other professionals within the educational or medical field determine the student is at appropriate grade level in certain skills; or

4. The learning disability has little or no effect on his/her academics.

There are two types of exiting. As mentioned there's the method, in which IEP members (also includes parents) make the determination. Another way is that the student has fulfilled a school district's or state mandate for graduation from high school. This particular process is known as the post-secondary plan.

Post-secondary Plan

This process terminates the service offered by the school district but it doesn't change the student's designation as a student with a learning disorder. All it means is that he/she completed his/her high school requirements and is ready for graduation. In a situation like this, two more pages on the student's regular IEP will be added to it. These pages (usually labeled as Post-secondary plan) will list the reason for exiting the student as well as the form of accommodation/modifications that were used to get the student to this point.

Not all States may have the same process

The article presented is based on California's special education system. Laws may differ from state to state. Still, the need for mainstreaming and ultimately exiting a student from special education is an important part the national Individual with Disability Education Act (IDEA).

For more information it is important to obtain it from your state's department of education.

Also, special education laws and terminology may differ between nations. Again, it is critical to check with your state or country's department (ministry) of education.

Just one sign a student may not need special education services
Just one sign a student may not need special education services | Source

Who Gets Exited?

Exiting can happen at any time in a special education student’s academic career; however, the process on average occurs more frequently during the high school years.

The student most likely to be exited are those with mild learning disabilities. Every so often, those with Asperger Syndrome will be go through this. Also, a student that has performed well in academics after being mainstreamed will be a likely candidate.

The student will also have a particular designation (based on the school district). A Resource student (RSP) tends to be headed in this direction. Any student with this designation tend may spend only 50% or less time in a special education setting. Also he/she will most likely be mainstreamed.


Exiting a Student

Again, the reasons may vary. A student may have adapted to their conditions and found new learning modes. Or, in rare cases he/she may have "outgrown" the disability. Physical maturity or therapy may have eliminated the source of the problem. Surprisingly, this is not uncommon.

The process of exiting will differ, in accordance to policies enacted by state education department, school district, or special education district (SELPA).

The latter district system often combines several school district's special education program under its umbrella. Often, help to unite these programs by implementing the same educational and procedural policies. This includes the way IEPs are conducted, and the criteria for those who qualify for special education services.

And, more often than not, SELPA establishes the protocol for exiting the students by adhering to the laws imposed by the national Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Usually a student being exited has been identified as someone who doesn't qualify for educational service. Usually the most critical determining factor is the assessment made by the school psychologist and/or case-carrier who have officially assessed him/her.

The assessments are done every three years and culminates in a meeting known as the triennial. The proctor will assessed the student several areas including reading comprehension, written expression, and math. Also, the proctor will use at least three assessment tools (in accordance to the law imposed by IDEA).

After the assessment, and an issuance of a comprehensive psychological report, a meeting is held, in which the team discuss the student's academic growth. Sometimes, the excusal is agreed upon, if there is compelling evidence that this action is appropriate.

In other cases the team will take a "wait-and-see" approach. They monitor the student for several months to see how he/she progresses. The latter will be imposed if the student is about to take a standardized state exam (such as an exit exam). This merely adds more data for the final decision to exit the student.

In Edwin's case, the team decided to wait the result the California Exit Exam (CAHSEE) -- which had taken the previous week -- were released.

With this information, the meeting can go forward. Still, even if everything looks like Edwin can be exited, somebody has to make the final approval.

Final Approval

It doesn’t matter how much information or evidence is given . His/her parents make the final decision. Usually parents will agree with the findings and request the exit. In some cases, the parent may feel that the student will still need services. This is often a rarity and in most cases, the special educator (whether it's an administrator or case-carrier) will persuade the parents that exiting is the right thing to do.

Understandably, most parents want to have the evidence to justify any move. If they can have test results, observations, grades, and other tools to measure the student’s performance, then they can feel comfortable with the decision they make.

Edwin’s parents wanted to have him exited from special education services; thus, they used the current data from teacher observations and CAHSEE test score to make the case. The other team members – including the case-carrier – also agreed with the parents.

It should be noted that an exit from an IEP is not an indication that Edwin is cured of his disorder. It merely means that the impact of his condition has been drastically reduced and is longer a hindrance to his academic performance.

Still, Edwin's future has just opened up. He doesn't have a label that may hinder him in the future. His capabilities know no boundaries, despite the deficiencies he had. The exit IEP was the right choice.

Exit IEP can open doors to new possibilities and opportunities.
Exit IEP can open doors to new possibilities and opportunities. | Source

© 2014 Dean Traylor

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