American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Eligibility Decisions and Dismissal Versus Continued Eligibility

Excerpt from Implementing IDEA 2004 Part I: Conducting Educationally Relevant Evaluations, Technical Assistance for Speech-Language Pathologists

5. Eligibility

Eligibility decisions for students in school settings must be made within the framework of the federal legislation and regulations, as well as the twofold contribution SLPs provide to the evaluation process-that is, evaluation of the student's communicative competence in social contexts and evaluation of the language underpinnings of academic achievement. IDEA 2004 provides parameters within which services should be provided in educational settings. The ultimate purpose of speech-language pathology services in public schools is consistent with the purpose of all special education services: to meet the unique needs of students with disabilities and prepare them for further education, employment, and/or independent living. Specially designed instruction and supports for students with disabilities are provided in a way that enables them to advance appropriately toward attaining academic and functional goals, that addresses educational needs resulting from the disabilities, that allows for involvement and progress in the general education curriculum, and that allows for participation in extracurricular and other nonacademic settings.

A student is eligible for speech-language pathology services through IDEA 2004 when she or he exhibits a speech or language impairment that has an adverse effect on educational performance to the degree that specially designed instruction or related services and supports are needed to help the student make progress in the general education curriculum. Determination of eligibility for special education services is a multistage process that should answer three questions:

  • Stage One: Is there a disability?
  • Stage Two: If so, is there an adverse effect on educational performance resulting from the disability?
  • Stage Three: If so, are specially designed instruction and/or related services and supports needed to help the student make progress in the general education curriculum?

6. Dismissal Versus Continued Eligibility

The goal of public school speech-language pathology services is to remediate or ameliorate a student's communication disorder such that it does not impede academic achievement and functional performance. When this goal is met, the student should be dismissed from speech-language pathology services. The dismissal of students from speech-language pathology services is sometimes a difficult, conflicted, and even contentious process. Some parents and/or teachers believe that once a student is determined to be eligible for speech-language pathology services, that student should be entitled to those services for the duration of his or her school career. It is often challenging for SLPs to determine if a communication problem continues to adversely affect academic achievement and functional performance and to communicate aspects of this determination to parents and teachers.

The first step in the dismissal process should occur when the student is first determined to be eligible for services through an IEP. The SLP should make the goals of speech-language pathology services clear to parents and teachers. The goals are as follows:

  1. to determine if the student's communication disorder is adversely effecting academic achievement and functional performance;
  2. to provide intervention for those communication disorders that are adversely effecting academic achievement and functional performance, specifying goals leading to specific criteria for dismissal;
  3. to dismiss the student from speech-language pathology services once the criteria for eligibility are no longer met.

Share This Page

Print This Page