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IDEA: Early Intervening Services

What IDEA Says

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) allows local educational agencies (LEAs) to use up to 15% of its IDEA Part B funds for supportive services to help students in kindergarten through grade 12 not yet identified with disabilities, but who require additional academic and behavioral supports to succeed in a general education environment. The law encourages LEAs to focus efforts on students in kindergarten through grade three. This allowable use of funds should not be confused with either Section 619 Preschool Grants or Part C Early Intervention Programs, which focus on children with disabilities ages birth-to-two and three-to-five, respectively.

Allowable activities under the law include:

  • Professional development for teachers and other school staff (presumably school based audiologists and SLPs would be eligible) to use "scientifically based" academic instruction including "literacy instruction;" and
  • Providing educational and behavioral evaluations, services, and supports, including scientifically based literacy instruction.

These services are not considered a denial or guarantee of entrance into special education, nor do they include the procedural safeguards.

If LEAs decide to develop an early intervening program, they must report annually to the state education agency on the number of children served under this program and the number of students who subsequently received special education and related services during the preceding two-year period.

Implications for ASHA Members

Many LEAs already have General Education Intervention or Child Study Teams in place to provide support for students experiencing academic problems in the classroom. IDEA allows for a portion of the IDEA funds to support these activities.

Early intervening services may decrease unnecessary referral to special education for struggling children who may benefit from modified instructional techniques, short-term remediation, or hearing assistive technology. It may also deter over referrals to special education, especially for students who are minorities and English language learners (ELL); have minimal or fluctuating hearing loss; or other listening problems. Providing prereferral services allows audiologists and SLPs to work with a wider range of students, including those who have not been identified as as having a speech or language disorder or who are hard of hearing. It may provide an opportunity to demonstrate the value of audiology and speech-language pathology services in the general education environment and demonstrate expertise, especially in literacy instruction.

Speech-language pathologists may be able to work with a wider range of students, including those who have not been identified as having a speech and language delay. This may provide an opportunity to demonstrate the value of speech-language pathology services in the general education environment and demonstrate our expertise, especially in literacy instruction.

ASHA members should work with their local administrators to seek funds from early intervening services to participate in professional development activities in scientifically based literacy instruction.

Reference: P.L.108-446, Title I, Part B, Section 613, paragraph (f)

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