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PEATC, Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center
Assisting families of children with special needs since 1978
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The Special Education Cycle

Placement Individualized Education Program (IEP) Instruction Annual Review Eligibility Evaluation Referral Special Education Cycle

Stops along the Cycle


When parents, school persons, or friends notice that a child might need special help, they should give that information in writing to the school system. A team of school people will gather information and decide if an evaluation is needed.


An evaluation is a careful look by a team of teachers and specialists at a child's abilities, strengths and weaknesses. It provides information about the child's educational needs and may also include information provided by the parents that can assist in determining whether a special education program is necessary for the child.


In order for a child to receive special education services, the child must first qualify according to guidelines. At the eligibility meeting, a team of qualified professionals and the parents of the child make a decision as to whether or not a child meets the requirements to receive special education services.

Individualized Education Program (IEP)

Every child in special education must have an Individualized Education Program (IEP). The IEP is a written statement describing the specially designed program developed to meet the needs of the individual child. Parents are to be members of the team and participate with the school people in the development of the IEP. The child should also participate in the decision making process as early as appropriate.

New IDEA Supports Positive Behavior and Addresses Discipline from PEATC Press Fall 1997

Checklist for Effective IEPs - use this resource to help guide your next IEP meeting


The placement decision identifies the appropriate school program and services needed to meet each child's educational goals. Services may include speech therapy, occupational therapy, transportation, etc. Parents must also be a part of the placement decision making team.


After the IEP is written and a child is placed in a school setting, learning activities begin in the classroom. Parents and school people must work together to make the IEP and placement work for the child.

Annual Review

At least once a year, parents and teachers meet to review the child's IEP. Anytime there is a change or proposed change in a child's school program, parents and school people must gather more information and reassess the appropriate educational program. Every three years a child's eligibility is reviewed. This may involve new evaluation. This is called the triennial review.

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Copyright © 2020 PEATC - Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center. All rights reserved.

Content on this site was produced, in part, with grant funds from the U.S. Department of Education, under CFDA # 84.328M, #84.310A, and #84.235F. The content herein does not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Education, any other agency of the U.S. government, or any other source.

PEATC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit committed to building positive futures for Virginia's children by working collaboratively with families, schools and communities in order to improve opportunities for excellence in education and success in school and community life. Our special focus is children with disabilities. You can reach PEATC by calling 703-923-0010 (Voice/TTY), or sending an e-mail to

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