Diverse Learners

The District provides an extensive range of educational services and supports for students with diverse needs within our schools.

Diverse Learners

The Office of Diverse Learners (ODL) supports families, students, and their teachers by providing the tools and resources to ensure that all eligible diverse learners receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE); this is accomplished through the provision of special education and/or related services to meet the unique needs of all eligible diverse learners. High-quality instruction is essential to our work and we are committed to preparing our students for success.

Parent Information Virtual Sessions

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Parent Information Sessions

Join us for a virtual session to learn more about District Special Education Services and Programs.

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  • January 17 – Building Relationships with SPED Teams
  • February 14 – Math and Reading
  • March 13 – ESY General Information
  • April 10 – Early Intervention
  • May 8 – Secondary Transition
  • June 5 – Fun Things to Do Over the Summer

Special Education

What is an Educational Disability?

There are 13 different disability categories as defined by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), under which 3- through 22-years-olds may be eligible for services.

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Deaf-Blindness
  • Deafness
  • Emotional Disturbance
  • Hearing Impairment
  • Intellectual Disability
  • Multiple Disabilities
  • Orthopedic Impairment
  • Other Health Impairment
  • Specific Learning Disability
  • Speech or Language Impairment
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Visual Impairment, including Blindness

Determining Eligibility - Does My Child Need Special Education?

Determining Eligibility

In Pennsylvania, in order for a student to be eligible for special education services, the student must meet two requirements:

  1. First, the student must be identified as having one of the thirteen disabilities listed in the IDEA: autism, deaf-blindness, deafness, emotional disturbance, hearing impairment, intel­lectual disability, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, other health impairment, specific learning disability, speech or language impairment, traumatic brain injury, or visual impairment.
  2. Second, the student must also require specially-designed instruc­tion as determined by an evaluation team. Specially-designed instruction refers to the special methods, equip­ment, materials, and adaptations that are needed for students to be successful in school and to achieve their IEP goals. This may involve accommodations and/or modifica­tions to the general education curriculum.

The Evaluation Process

What does the evaluation process determine?
The Evaluation determines whether your child has an educational disability AND whether your child requires specially designed instruction and/or related services. The report that is compiled and written by the evaluation team (which includes you, the parent) is called an Evaluation Report (ER).

Who participates in the evaluation?
The evaluation is conducted by an evaluation team.

  • Under Pennsylvania regulations, the evaluation team must include a certified school psychologist when evaluating for these disabilities: Autism, emotional disturbance, intellectual disability, multiple disabilities, other health impairment, specific learning disability and traumatic brain injury.
  • Parents must always be part of an evaluation team.
  • The regular education teachers are also a part of this team because they have been teaching the child, and know how the child performs in relation to his or her peers.
  • A special education teacher, special education supervisor or other instruction specialist could also be a member of the evaluation team, because of their expertise.

School psychologists are uniquely qualified members of school teams who apply expertise in mental health, learning, and behavior, to help children and youth succeed academically, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally. Your School’s Psychologist will assist the multi-disciplinary evaluation teams to determine your child’s eligibility to receive special education services.

How long does the evaluation take?

From the date that the parent/guardian signs and returns the PTE form to their school, that school has 60 calendar days to evaluate your child and notify you of the results. Note: The 60 calendar days do not include the summer months after a school year has ended.

How do I get my child evaluated, if I suspect my child is eligible for special education?

School districts must identify and evaluate all students who are thought to have a disability and who may be eligible for special education or related services. If you suspect your child is eligible, you can submit a request, in writing, to the Principal at your child’s school to start the process. Once you make the request the school will either issue a “permission to evaluate” (PTE) or explain, in writing, why a PTE may

What happens after an evaluation ?

An evaluation team reviews all materials and writes a report called an Evaluation Report (ER) that states if your child has a disability and if your child needs special education. It makes recommendations about the type of services your child may need. The said recommendations, will be developed at an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting that you (the parent) will be invited to participate in.

Note: The evaluation or reevaluation, will inform you of additions or changes (i.e, Accommodations, Modifications) that are needed to help your child meet the goals in your child’s educational program described in your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP).

  • Accommodations are teaching supports and services that the student may require to successfully demonstrate learning. Accommodations change the “how” of learning, but do not change expectations to the curriculum grade levels. Accommodations may involve special seating, frequent breaks, or extended time on tests.
  • Modifications are changes made to the curriculum expectations in order to meet the needs of the student. Modifications are made when the expectations are beyond the student’s level of ability. Modifications may include modified homework assignments, alternate forms of assessment such as portfolios, and changes to the curriculum. Modifications change the “what” of learning.

As a parent, you are uniquely qualified to know your child’s learning strengths and weaknesses. School professionals will utilize your knowledge in designing a special education program for your child’s benefit.

NOTE: Children who have disabilities that substantially limit their participation in or access to school programs, but who do not need special education, may qualify for reasonable accommodations in the general classroom under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and other Pennsylvania education regulations. The rules – called Chapter 15 – that apply are different from those for students needing special education who qualify by meeting the two-part criteria listed above.

Frequently Used Terms

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) – is an IDEA requirement indicating that children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, must be educated with children who are not disabled, to the maximum extent appropriate. Removal of children with dis­abilities from the general education environment occurs only when the nature and/or severity of their disabilities are such that education in general classes, with the use of supplementary aids and services, cannot be achieved satisfactorily.

Local Education Agency (LEA) – is a school district, charter school, or other educational entity responsible for providing a free, appropriate public education in accordance with Pennsylvania Department of Education statutes, regulations, and policies with or without support from other agencies.

Supplementary Aids and Services – are aids, services, and other supports provided in general education classes or other education-related settings to enable children with disabilities to be educated with nondisabled children to the maximum extent appropriate.

Types of Special Education Support – Learning Support, Life Skills Support, Emotional Support, Deaf and Hearing Impaired Support, Blind and Visually Impaired Support, Speech and Language Support, Physical Support, Autistic Support, Multiple Disabilities Support

Amount of Special Education Support – The following words and terms have the meanings listed unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

  • Full-time. Special education supports and services provided by special education personnel for 80 percent or more of the school day.
  • Supplemental. Special education supports and services provided by special education personnel for more than 20 percent but less than 80 percent of the school day.
  • Itinerant. Special education supports and services provided by special education personnel for 20 percent or less of the school day.

Early Intervention

Early Intervention is the process by which children from the ages of three to five receive services through an Early Intervention agency due to a developmental delay of at least twenty-five percent.

  • It is the District’s responsibility to determine if children who are age-eligible for Kindergarten in the Fall of any given year will need academic assistance.
  • It is important to note that the services received through an Early Intervention agency are based on developmental needs, while services provided by the School District are determined by academic needs.

The questions that need to be answered are “Will a child need assistance to access the curriculum?” and if so “What type of assistance?”

Early Intervention Services

Early Intervention consists of services and supports designed to help families with children who have developmental delays.

Early Intervention services can include:

  • information on how children develop; parent/caregiver education, support services, and developmental therapies that assist in child development
  • ideas for how the family can help their child at home and in the community and is individualized to enhance the child’s growing and learning

Services and supports are embedded in the learning opportunities that exist in the child’s typical routines and within the home and community and/or other early education programs such as child care centers, nursery schools, prekindergarten programs or Head Start.

How do I Get Started?

January: Attend an Early Intervention Transition Meeting with the School District and Elwyn Early Learning Services (see the schedule.

JANUARY – MAY – Please register for Kindergarten at Your Neighborhood School. Be sure to tell the School Secretary that your child receives Early Intervention (EI) Services.

Families can reach out to their Local Education Agency (LEA) for more information at Elwyn Early Learning Services (ELS)Regional Contact Information (215) 222-8054.

Remember to Bring:

  • Proof of Identity
  • Proof of Residence
  • Proof of your Child’s Age
  • Proof of Immunization

Kindergarten Transition

For any inquiry related to Kindergarten transition: Elwyn.Kindergarten@elwyn.org

As part of the Transition Process – Be sure to sign and return any documentation provided by your Special Education Compliance Manager to your neighborhood school.

** As necessary – Update your neighborhood school with any changes in address or contact information.

How is My Child’s Special Education Program Determined?

After a school evaluates a student and determines that the student is eligible for special education, an Individualized Education Program (IEP)  team meeting is held. This important meeting by law, must be within thirty (30) calendar days of an eligibility determination via the evaluation results.

During the meeting, the student’s needs are discussed and the evaluation results are explained. Then, the parents and members at the meeting discuss the services and supports necessary to help a child make progress in school; this information is put into the IEP document for implementation. 

IEP Meeting a Quick Summary

  • The evaluation results will be explained 
  • Schools are required to hold an IEP meeting, if appropriate 
  • The purpose of the meeting is to discuss, develop, and review a student’s academic needs
  • Parents/legal guardians, are part of the IEP team and work jointly with school staff to ensure the IEP, meets the student’s needs
  • The IEP, must be developed with-in thirty (30) calender days of the finalized evaluation report
  • The IEP, must be put into action, as soon as possible but no later than ten (10) school day(s) after the IEP is approved

Out of District Eligibility

Special education is a service but not automatically a placement. If your child has qualified for special education services, where your child will receive those services must still be determined.

IDEA mandates that a school district provide a Free and Appropriate Education (FAPE) in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). When a child is deemed eligible to receive special education services, a special education team determines how to best provide services for the child, at no cost to the family.

The Individualized Education Program (IEP) team – which includes you, the parent – will decide which placement or placements are appropriate based on your child’s specific needs.

When considering an educational placement, the IEP team must decide what is the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) where the student can make progress towards the IEP goals.

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)
LRE is a continuum. At one end, you’ll find the general education classroom, where a student with special needs receives instruction from a teacher, and accommodations and modifications as outlined in his or her Individualized Educational Program (IEP). An out-of-district placement is a step along this continuum. A student is eligible to receive an out-of-district placement when an IEP team determines that he or she needs more intensive support than can be provided in their home district. In making the placement decision, the team should consider the most inclusive setting first and progress to consider more restrictive environments as needed. Unless the IEP of a student with a disability requires some other arrangement, the student is educated in the school that he or she would attend if nondisabled. It is important to remember that an educational placement can change over time.

One example of an Out of District placement is known as an Approved Private School (APS). An APS is a private school that is licensed by the state and has been given special status by the state to educate children, who, by the nature of their disabilities, cannot be appropriately served in public school special education programs. Approved Private schools specialize in providing special education supports and services for students with severe disabilities in a highly structured and restrictive environment. School IEP teams determine eligibility of a referral for a student to possibly attend an out of district school such as an APS.

What is an assistive technology device?

Assistive Technology

An assistive technology device is any piece of equipment that is used to increase, maintain or improve the functional capabilities of children with disabilities.

Who is responsible for determining what assistive technology services a student should receive?
The IEP team is responsible for determining if an assistive technology device and/or service is necessary for a child with a disability to receive FAPE (Free And Appropriate Education).

When a student moves from school to school, does the assistive technology device move with the student?
If the assistive technology device is necessary for a student to receive FAPE (Free And Appropriate Education), the device must be provided to the student in his new school.

How is assistive technology integrated into the delivery of the general education curriculum?
The IEP team will discuss how the student will use the device and how it will be integrated into the general education curriculum. This information will be shared with the general education teachers so that they will be aware of how it will be used.

Is the School District responsible for retaining, repairing or replacing assistive technology devices?
If purchased or secured by the school District, they will repair or replace assistive devices, as long as the student requires them in order to receive FAPE (Free And Appropriate Education).

What is a related service?

Related Services

Related services are supportive services that are required for a child to benefit from special education. Related services help children with disabilities benefit from their special education by providing extra help and support in needed areas, such as speaking or moving.

Related services can include but are not limited to, any of the following:

  • Speech and language, pathology and audiology services
  • Interpreting services
  • Physical and occupational therapy
  • Vision Support Services
  • Orientation and mobility services

How often should a student receive a related service?

The IEP team determines the frequency, location, and duration of related services based on a student’s individual needs. Parents are an integral part of the IEP team. The related service provider often provides the support to teachers and classroom staff so that the related service can take place in the classroom throughout the day.

How is a student’s need for related services determined?

Each student’s need for related services, just as the need for special education, is determined by the student’s IEP team as part of the individualized education program (IEP) process.

My child receives one of the services named as special education. Is this a related service?

Speech/language, deaf/hard of hearing and vision support can either be the student’s special education support in the general curriculum or the support can be the related service supporting the IEP. The student must have a disability in the specified area(s) and be in need of specialized instruction to receive support in the specified area(s) in order to be successful in the curriculum.

May I speak to the school psychologist without my child being evaluated for special education?

The psychologist is a member of the school team. You may make an appointment anytime to speak with the psychologist without having to have your child evaluated.

Transition Planning

Transition services are activities that prepare students with disabilities to move from school to post-school life. The activities must be based on the student’s needs, preferences, and interests. Transition planning begins no later than age 14, in middle school or early high school, as students explore what they want their post-school outcomes to be. The purpose of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is “to ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment and independent living.

What does transition planning accomplish?
Transition planning helps students and their families think about the future and jointly plan with the school and supporting agencies to make the school experience contribute directly to achieving the necessary skills for a successful adult life.

Why is it important to do secondary transition planning?
Transition planning is required by federal law (IDEA 97) and Pennsylvania regulations (Chapter 14). The purpose of transition planning and programming is to encourage students to pursue education and/or training and to seek employment beyond high school.

When does secondary transition planning start?
Transition planning must start by age 14, though it may begin at an earlier age if the IEP team decides that early planning is appropriate. Beginning no later than age 14, the IEPs of students must include a course of study, transition services and/or activities and goals and objectives that support the students’ post-school goals for education and training, employment, and independent living.

Special Education Programs

Select a program to learn more.

Autistic Support (AS)

  • We partner with our families to build trusting relationships and create opportunities for children to develop communication, social, emotional and academic skills in order to reach their greatest potential.
  • Programs we use in classrooms include: STAR Autism curriculum in grades Kindergarten-5th, Links curriculum in grades 6th-12th including Transition Age, and Direct Instruction programs: Language to Learning, Language to Thinking, Language to Writing, Reading Mastery, Connecting Math Concepts across all grade spans.

Blind and Visually Impaired Support (VI)

  • We partner with our families to provide support services for students with a disability of visual impairment including blindness.
  • The student may require services to address needs primarily in the areas of accessing print and other visually-presented materials, orientation and mobility, accessing public and private accommodations, as well as the use of assistive technologies designed for individuals with visual impairments or blindness.
  • Programs we use in classrooms include: The Teacher of the Visually-Impaired (TVI) provides specific student accommodations as outlined by the 504 Accommodation Plan to access the curriculum, and as a member of the the IEP team, the TVI will provide specially designed instruction to the student in order to meet IEP goals that will strengthen the student’s skills in the nine areas of the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) for students with visual impairments
  • The Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS or O&M) provides support as outlined within the Individual Education Program (IEP), as a member of the IEP team. Orientation and Mobility is a related service support that will ensure a student learns safe independent travel skills to the greatest extent possible according to their ages and levels of functioning
  • Contact: Elizabeth Konde, OT/PT and Vision Services Coordinator ekonde@philasd.org I 215- 400-6234

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Support (D/HH)

  • We partner with our families to build trusting relationships and create opportunities for academic growth so our Deaf/Hard of Hearing students can reach their full potential.
  • Programs we use in classrooms include: We use a variety of specifically designed interventions/curriculums for our Deaf/Hard of Hearing students in addition to the required curriculum from the District. We use Bedrock, Bilingual Grammar Curriculum and Visual Phonics, among others.

Contact: Adam Buck, D/HH Coordinator arbuck@philasd.org | 215-400-5032

Emotional Support (ES)

  • We partner with our families to support students that have Emotional Behavior Disorders in a manner that is encouraging, supportive, and effective. We provide professional development and support to all Emotional Support Programs and teachers in order to foster environments where students with Emotional Behavior Disorders can learn and thrive.
  • Our programming adds another layer of support for students who have Emotional Support services in their Individual Education Program.
  • Contact: Please call: 215-400-4170 for more information.

Learning Support (LS)

  • We partner with our families to enhance and strengthen collaboration between the IEP team members. This includes the parent, the special education teacher, the general education teacher, any related service provider, and designated administrators. Collaboration at the school level continues throughout the school year to ensure that the big ideas and concepts in the general education instructional program are reflected in the LS supports.
  • Programs we use in classrooms include those high leverage practices found to be most effective for students in special education such as: direct, explicit, and systematic instruction; ample opportunities for practice and generalization of learning; immediate feedback; scaffolded supports; flexible grouping; active student engagement, and more.
  • Contact: Renay Boyce rboyce@philasd.org | 215-400-4170 & Joyce Dukes jdukes@philasd.org | 215-400-6080

Life Skills Support (LSS)

  • We partner with our families to support and to provide students with growth experiences in language development, self-help skills, social development, functional academics and vocational skills. Parents are an important part of the school team when developing IEP goals and strategies.
  • Programs we use in classrooms. In our Complex Needs classrooms, the teachers and students use the Unique Learning System (ULS) for functional academics (literacy, math, social studies, science). This program is data driven and research based and was chosen by the Pennsylvania Department of Education to best meet the academic needs of our students.
  • Contact: Alan Arallo (aarallo@philasd.org) | (215) 400-5644

Multiple Disabilities Support (MDS)

  • We partner with our families to support and to provide students with growth experiences in language development, self-help skills, social development, functional academics and vocational skills. Parents are an important part of the school team when developing IEP goals and strategies.
  • Programs we use in classrooms. In our Complex Needs classrooms, the teachers and students use the Unique Learning System (ULS) for functional academics (literacy, math, social studies, science). This program is data driven and research based and was chosen by the Pennsylvania Department of Education to best meet the academic needs of our students.
  • Contact: Alan Arallo (aarallo@philasd.org) | (215) 400-5644

Speech and Language Support (SL)

  • We partner with our families to support students with an educationally-based Speech or Language Impairment that impacts their ability to communicate effectively during academic, social and/or vocational activities
  • Programs we use in classrooms. The Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP) will provide therapeutic related speech/language services or a primary speech/language support as a member of the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team, in order to address a variety of communication disorders such as articulation/phonology disorders, language expression, voice, fluency, language comprehension and pragmatic language that adversely affect your child’s access to the curriculum of the learning environment.

Please call: 215-400-4170 for more information.

Surrogate Parents

What is a surrogate parent?
A surrogate parent is a volunteer who agrees to advocate for an IDEA-eligible or thought-to-be eligible child in the special education process. This can be:

  • A biological or adoptive parent of a child;
  • A foster parent;
  • A guardian generally authorized to act as the child’s parent, or authorized to make educational decisions for the child;
  • An individual acting in the place of the biological or adoptive parent (including a grandparent, stepparent, or other relative) with whom the child lives, or an individual who is legally responsible for the child’s welfare (such as a person with an order granting that person custody of the child); or
  • A surrogate parent who has been appointed in accordance with 34 CFR §300.519 or Section 615(a)(2) of the IDEA.

What does a surrogate parent do?

A surrogate parent has all the rights of a birth parent and has the duty to represent the child throughout the special education process.

    • The surrogate parent familiarizes herself or himself with the child’s needs and educational history, receives notices about the child’s educational program, and participates in the development of the Individualized Education Program (IEP).
    • The surrogate parent can approve the IEP and the Notice of Recommended Educational Placement (NOREP) or disapprove one or both and initiate Special Education Due Process procedures. Only a birth parent, a person who is acting as a parent (such as a grandparent or foster parent), or a surrogate parent has these legal rights and responsibilities.

To what information does a surrogate parent have access?

The surrogate parent has a right to review the child’s school records and to get copies when necessary. He or she can also visit the student’s class, talk with the teachers, and generally obtain any information necessary to represent the child adequately.

Who appoints the surrogate parent?

In Pennsylvania, each School District is responsible for locating all children who need surrogate parents and for assigning a surrogate parent to each.

What qualifications must a person have to serve as a surrogate parent?

Surrogate parents cannot have any conflict of interest with the child and must have the knowledge and skills necessary to represent the child adequately.

What should I do if I or someone close to me needs a surrogate parent?

Please reach out to your school counselor for help and assistance in obtaining a surrogate parent in the School District of Philadelphia.

Extended School Year

What is ESY?

Extended School Year (ESY) services are free special education services provided to students who require special education supports and services beyond the regular 180-day school year. The primary purpose of ESY is to maintain the progress the student made on their most critical goals and objectives during the regular school year. The ESY program is based on the student’s individual needs and typically does not include every goal and objective in the student’s IEP.

How are ESY Eligibility and Services Determined?

The student’s eligibility for ESY and which ESY services the student requires must be discussed at the student’s IEP Team meeting.

  • The amount, type, and duration of services that are provided during ESY will depend on the individual needs of the student and are determined by the IEP Team based on data collected on the student’s skills and behaviors.
  • ESY may include not only specially designed instruction, but may also include related services such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy, and transportation.

ESY Summer Program

ESY services will generally be provided 4 days per week, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., for a five-week period during the summer.

However, there is no fixed amount, type, or duration of ESY services; each student is entitled to receive the services necessary to ensure they receive an appropriate education based on their needs.

Gifted & Talented Education

According to PA Chapter 16, giftedness is defined as, “Outstanding intellectual and creative ability the development of which requires specially designed instruction, programs or support services, or both, not ordinarily provided in the regular education program.”

Just as every individual is unique and exhibits his or her own personality, “giftedness” manifests itself differently in every child. identifying a gifted child is an in-depth process that involves a variety of information and data from multiple people and available data.

PLEASE NOTE: Gifted Eligibility is NOT considered part of the admission criteria for special admit and magnet schools.

Evaluation Process

The determination of gifted eligibility comes from a variety of sources. There is no one measure to determine giftedness. The IQ alone does not determine gifted eligibility.

The identification process includes a broad range of evaluation measures, including teacher recommendation, student-created portfolio, psychologist evaluation, checklist of giftedness indicators, and/or standardized test scores.


Step 1: Referral/Request for Evaluation

The School District administers the Naglieri Nonverbal Assessment Test (NNAT3) to all current 2nd-graders each Spring. The NNAT alone does not determine gifted eligibility. It is an additional measure that adds to a more complete learner profile.

Follow the Naglieri Nonverbal Assessment Test link for an information page in multiple languages: Click here for Naglieri Nonverbal Assessment Information

Parents may also request that a student be evaluated for gifted services. The request is made in writing at your child’s school.

  • The evaluation process begins with an initial screening.
  • During the screening process the student’s academic data is reviewed to determine if the student is working well above their grade level.
    • What do we look for: Academic data such as STAR, iReady, or other nationally normed measures that range in the 95% percentile nonverbal range and above.
    • The Naglieri is used as an additional data point that reveals strong non-verbal abilities that might be masked by other measures. What we look for: 97% percentile range.
  • Data on the academic performance and characteristics of your student will be collected and reviewed to determine if further evaluation by a psychologist is appropriate. Evidence is gathered to determine whether your child is performing in the top 5% of his/her peers and is working at least a year above grade level in one or more areas. All available tests, work samples, and assessments are included in combination with the characteristics of gifted children.

Step 2: If gifted criteria is met, your child is scheduled for a psychological evaluation.

  • You will be issued a Permission to Evaluate letter giving consent for the evaluation.
    School psychologists conduct a psychological evaluation.
  • The gifted multidisciplinary evaluation team, including the school psychologist, is responsible for completing the evaluation within 60 days of the school receiving signed consent.
  • Following the evaluation the school team develops a Gifted Written Report (GWR) that indicates gifted eligibility or not.

Step 3: Notice of Recommended Assignment (NORA) and GIEP

If the team finds that the student qualifies for Gifted Support Services, a Gifted Individualized Education Plan (GIEP) is written within 30 days. This personalized plan allows for differentiated instruction and support where needed.

  • As part of the plan, an annual academic goal will be set.
  • The plan is reviewed every year so adjustments may be made if the student is not reaching their annual academic goal.
  • Gifted services may be provided in a variety of ways.
  • The Notice of Recommended Assignment (NORA) documents the team’s decision at the conclusion of the process and is presented to parents at the Gifted Team Meeting or via mail after the meeting.
  • Parents have 10 calendar days to sign and return the NORA. Then, gifted services can begin.
  • Gifted services cannot begin without a signed NORA.

Charter, Private, Parochial or Homeschooled Students

The School District will provide evaluation services to all students within the IU26 boundary. This is referred to as Equitable Participation. This applies to all students living within the Philadelphia city limit, including those enrolled in Charter, private, parochial or homeschooled students. You may request an evaluation by sending an email to gifted@philasd.org to begin the process.

NOTE: The School District of Philadelphia provides evaluation services for non-public school students including charter students, however, is NOT responsible for providing gifted services for students attending private, parochial, or charter schools.

What is the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test (NNAT)?

The NNAT (Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test), Third Edition (NNAT-3) is a nonverbal test used for qualifying K-12 students for gifted and talented programs. It is a group-administered aptitude test commonly given as an entrance exam into schools’ gifted programs. The NNAT-3 utilizes shapes and figures to evaluate the problem-solving and reasoning abilities of a child without relying on their language skills. In other words, the NNAT-3 assesses how a student thinks instead of what a student knows.

The NNAT-3 is widely used for gifted and talented admission screenings across the US. These tests assess a child’s problem-solving and visual-spatial reasoning abilities (instead of what he or she has learned in school) with questions that incorporate abstract shapes and designs.

The NNAT-3 is also considered to be the gold standard for unbiased scoring regardless of each student’s primary language, socioeconomic status, educational history or color/ vision impairment. This is because the NNAT-3 test utilizes minimal language and written directions to avoid relying on a child’s reading, writing or language skills. Additionally, only two colors (blue and yellow) are shown.

There are 4 types of questions on the NNAT-3 test:

  • Pattern completion
  • Reasoning by analogy
  • Serial Reasoning
  • Spatial visualization

The latest version, the NNAT-3, takes 30 minutes to complete and includes 48 questions broken down into these four unique question types.

The percentile rank (PR) tells you how your child did in comparison to other children who took the test. For example, a percentile rank of 98 would mean that your child scored higher than 98% of the students who took the test.

The Naglieri Ability Index (NAI) score relates to a separate percentile scale than the PR. For instance, students who scored 67 and below would be in the first percentile. A score of 68 to 70 would be in the 2nd percentile, a score of 71 or 72 would be in the 3rd percentile, 73 and 74 or in the 4th percentile, etc. This pattern continues, and a score of 133 to 150 places children in the 99th percentile.

Resources

Annual Notices of Special Education Services
Albanian | Arabic | Chinese | French | Khmer | Russian | Spanish | Vietnamese | English

Procedural Safeguards-Summary
English | Albanian | Arabic | Chinese | French | Khmer | Russian | Spanish | Vietnamese

Procedural Safeguards-Full Notice
English | Albanian | Arabic | Chinese | French | Khmer | Russian | Spanish | Vietnamese

Change in Age of Eligibility for Free and Appropriate Public Education
PDE Memo | FAQ
District Letter | Shqip | العربية | 汉语 | Français | ខ្មែរ | Português | Русский | Español | Việt

FAQs

What is an Educational Disability?

There are 13 different disability categories as defined by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), under which 3- through 22-years-olds may be eligible for services.

In order to qualify for special education, the IEP Team must determine that a child has a disability in one of the 13 categories and it must adversely affect their educational performance:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Deaf-Blindness
  • Deafness
  • Emotional Disturbance
  • Hearing Impairment
  • Intellectual Disability
  • Multiple Disabilities
  • Orthopedic Impairment
  • Other Health Impairment
  • Specific Learning Disability
  • Speech or Language Impairment
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Visual Impairment, including Blindness

What does the evaluation process determine?

The Evaluation determines whether your child has an educational disability AND whether you child requires specially designed instruction and/or related services. The report that is compiled and written by the evaluation team (which includes you, the parent) is called an Evaluation Report (ER).

Who participates in the evaluation?

The evaluation is conducted by an evaluation team.  Under Pennsylvania regulations, the evaluation team must include a certified school psychologist when evaluating for these disabilities: Autism, emotional disturbance, intellectual disability, multiple disabilities, other health impairment, specific learning disability and traumatic brain injury.  Parents must always be part of an evaluation team.  The regular education teachers are also a part of this team because they have been teaching the child, and know how the child performs in relation to his or her peers. A special education teacher, special education supervisor or other instruction specialist could also be a member of the evaluation team, because of their expertise.

How long does the evaluation take?

The school has 60 calendar days from the date that the parent/guardian signs and returns to the school the PTE form to evaluate your child and notify you of the results. The 60 calendar days do not include the summer months after a school year has ended.

How do I get my child evaluated, if I suspect my child is eligible for special education?

School districts must identify and evaluate all students who are thought to have a disability and who may be eligible for special education or related services. If you suspect your child is eligible, you can submit a request, in writing, to the Principal at your child’s school to start the process. Once you make the request the school will either issue a “permission to evaluate” (PTE) or explain, in writing, why a PTE may not be issued.

What does transition planning accomplish?

Transition planning helps students and their families think about the future and jointly plan with the school and supporting agencies to make the school experience contribute directly to achieving the necessary skills for a successful adult life.

Why is it important to do secondary transition planning?

Transition planning is required by federal law (IDEA 97) and Pennsylvania regulations (Chapter 14). The purpose of transition planning and programming is to encourage students to pursue education and/or training and to seek employment beyond high school.

When does secondary transition planning start?

Transition planning must start by age 14. Transition planning may begin at an earlier age if the IEP team decides that early planning is appropriate. Beginning no later than age 14, the IEPs of students must include a course of study, transition services and/or activities and goals and objectives that support the students’ post-school goals for education and training, employment, and independent living.

How often should a student receive a related service?

The IEP team determines the frequency, location, and duration of related services based on a student’s individual needs. Parents are an integral part of the IEP team. The related service provider often provides the support to teachers and classroom staff so that the related service can take place in the classroom throughout the day.

How is a student’s need for related services determined?

Each student’s need for related services, just as the need for special education, is determined by the student’s IEP team as part of the individualized education program (IEP) process.

My child receives one of the services named as special education. Is this a related service?

Speech/language, deaf/hard of hearing and vision support can either be the student’s special education support in the general curriculum or the support can be the related service supporting the IEP. The student must have a disability in the specified area(s) and be in need of specialized instruction to receive support in the specified area(s) in order to be successful in the curriculum.

May I speak to the school psychologist without my child being evaluated for special education?

The psychologist is a member of the school team. You may make an appointment anytime to speak with the psychologist without having to have your child evaluated.

What is an assistive technology device?

An assistive technology device is any piece of equipment that is used to increase, maintain or improve the functional capabilities of children with disabilities.

Who is responsible for determining what assistive technology services a student should receive?

The IEP team is responsible for determining if an assistive technology device and/or service is necessary for a child with a disability to receive FAPE (Free And Appropriate Education).

When a student moves from school to school, does the assistive technology device move with the student?

If the assistive technology device is necessary for a student to receive FAPE (Free And Appropriate Education), the device must be provided to the student in his new school.

How is assistive technology integrated into the delivery of the general education curriculum?

The IEP team will discuss how the student will use the device and how it will be integrated into the general education curriculum. This information will be shared with the general education teachers so that they will be aware of how it will be used.

Is the School District responsible for retaining, repairing or replacing assistive technology devices?

If purchased or secured by the school District, they will repair or replace assistive devices, as long as the student requires them in order to receive FAPE (Free And Appropriate Education).

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