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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 8. Education
Agency 20. State Board of Education
Chapter 81. Regulations Governing Special Education Programs for Children with Disabilities in Virginia
7/12/2020

8VAC20-81-80. Eligibility.

A. Each local educational agency shall establish procedures to ensure that the decision regarding eligibility for special education and related services and educational needs is made in accordance with the provisions of this section.

B. The determination that a child is eligible for special education and related services shall be made on an individual basis by a group as designated in subdivision C 2 of this section.

C. Upon completion of the administration of assessments and other evaluation materials or after determining that additional data are not needed, a group of qualified professionals and the parent(s) of the child shall determine whether the child is, or continues to be, a child with a disability and the educational needs of the child. If a determination is made that a child has a disability and requires special education and related services, an IEP shall be developed in accordance with the requirements of 8VAC20-81-110. (34 CFR 300.306, 34 CFR 300.308)

1. The determination of whether a child is a child with a disability is made by the child's parent(s) and a group that is collectively qualified to:

a. Conduct, as appropriate, individual diagnostic assessments in the areas of speech and language, academic achievement, intellectual development and social-emotional development;

b. Interpret assessment and intervention data, and apply critical analysis to those data; and

c. Develop appropriate educational and transitional recommendations based on the assessment data.

2. The eligibility group composition.

a. The group may be an IEP team, as defined in 8VAC20-81-110, as long as the above requirements and notice requirements of 8VAC20-81-170 are met.

b. The group shall include, but not be limited to:

(1) Local educational agency personnel representing the disciplines providing assessments;

(2) The special education administrator or designee;

(3) The parent(s);

(4) A special education teacher;

(5) The child's general education teacher or if the child does not have a general education teacher, a general education teacher qualified to teach a child of the child's age; or for a child of less than school age, an individual qualified to teach a child of the child's age; and

(6) At least one person qualified to conduct individual diagnostic examinations of children, such as school psychologist, speech-language pathologist, or remedial reading teacher.

D. Procedures for determining eligibility and educational need. (34 CFR 300.306 through 34 CFR 300.311)

1. In interpreting evaluation data for the purpose of determining if a child is a child with a disability and determining the educational needs of the child, the local educational agency shall:

a. Draw upon information from a variety of sources, including aptitude and achievement tests, parent input and teacher recommendations, as well as information about the child's physical condition, social or cultural background, and adaptive behavior; and

b. Ensure that information from all these sources is documented and carefully considered.

2. The group shall provide procedural safeguards in determining eligibility and in ensuring the confidentiality of records.

3. Observation.

a. The local educational agency shall ensure that the child is observed in the child's learning environment (including the general education classroom setting) to document the child's academic performance and behavior in the areas of difficulty.

b. The eligibility group, in determining whether a child is a child with a disability shall:

(1) Use information from an observation in routine classroom instruction and monitoring of the child's performance that was done before the child was referred for an evaluation; or

(2) Have at least one member of the eligibility group conduct an observation of the child's academic performance in the general education classroom after the child has been referred for an evaluation and parental consent has been obtained consistent with the requirements of 8VAC20-81-170.

c. In the case of a child of less than school age or out of school, a group member shall observe the child in an environment appropriate for a child of that age.

4. A child shall not be determined to be eligible under this chapter if the child does not otherwise meet the eligibility criteria, or the determinant factor is:

a. Lack of appropriate instruction in reading, including the essential components of reading instruction:

(1) Phonemic awareness,

(2) Phonics,

(3) Vocabulary development,

(4) Reading fluency, including oral reading skills, and

(5) Reading comprehension strategies;

b. Lack of appropriate instruction in math; or

c. Limited English proficiency.

5. The local educational agency shall provide the parent with a copy of the documentation of the determination of eligibility at no cost. This documentation shall include a statement of:

a. Whether the child has a specific disability.

b. The basis for making the determination including an assurance that the determination has been made in accordance with the provisions of this section regarding determining eligibility and educational need.

c. The relevant behavior, if any, noted during the observation of the child and the relationship of that behavior to the child's academic functioning.

d. The educationally relevant medical findings, if any.

e. The instructional strategies used and the student-centered data collected if the child has participated in a response to scientific, research-based intervention process. This document shall also include:

(1) The local educational agency's notification to the parent of the Virginia Department of Education's policies regarding the amount and nature of student performance data that would be collected and the general education services that would be provided;

(2) The strategies that were used to increase the child's rate of learning; and

(3) The parent's right to request an evaluation.

f. For identification of a child with a specific learning disability, whether consistent with the requirements of subdivisions T 2 a and T 2 b of this section, the child does not achieve adequately for the child's age or to meet Virginia-approved grade-level standards; and

(1) The child does not make sufficient progress to meet age or Virginia-approved grade-level standards; or

(2) The child exhibits a pattern of strengths and weaknesses in performance, achievement, or both, relative to age, Virginia-approved grade-level standards or intellectual development.

g. For identification of a child with a specific learning disability, the group's determination is consistent with the requirements of subdivision T 2 c of this section.

6. The eligibility group shall consider, as part of the evaluation, data that demonstrates that prior to, or as part of the referral process, the child was provided appropriate high-quality, researched-based instruction in general education settings, consistent with § 1111(b)(8)(D) and (E) of the ESEA, including that the instruction was delivered by qualified personnel. There shall be data-based documentation that repeated assessments of achievement at reasonable intervals, reflecting that formal assessment of student progress during instruction was provided to the child's parents.

7. The eligibility group shall work toward consensus. If the group does not reach consensus and the decision does not reflect a particular member's conclusion, then the group member shall submit a written statement presenting that member's conclusions.

8. The local educational agency shall obtain written parental consent for the initial eligibility determination. Thereafter, written parental consent shall be secured for any change in categorical identification in the child's disability.

9. The eligibility group shall have a written summary that consists of the basis for making its determination as to the eligibility of the child for special education and related services. The written summary shall include any written statement from a member whose conclusion differs from the other members' determination. The summary statement may include other recommendations. The written summary shall be maintained in the child's scholastic record.

10. The written summary shall be forwarded to the IEP team, including the parent, upon determination of eligibility. The summary statement may include other recommendations.

11. With reevaluations, if the eligibility group determines that there is not a change to the child's eligibility for special education and related services, and educational needs, the IEP team is not required to convene, unless the parent requests that the IEP team meets.

E. Nothing in this chapter requires that children be identified by their disability on IEPs, local educational agency communications to parents regarding eligibility determinations, or other similar communications to parents. For such communications, local educational agencies shall identify that each child has a disability under this chapter and by reason of that disability needs special education and related services, and is regarded as a child with a disability.

F. Eligibility for related services. A child with a disability shall be found eligible for special education in order to receive related services. Once a child is found eligible for special education, decisions about the need for related services shall be made by the IEP team. An evaluation may be conducted as determined by the IEP team. (34 CFR 300.34 and 34 CFR 300.306(c)(2))

G. Two-year-old children previously served by Part C. A child, aged two, previously participating in early intervention services assisted under Part C of the Act, shall meet the requirements of this chapter to be determined eligible under Part B of the Act. For a child served by Part C after age two, and whose third birthday occurs during the summer, the child's IEP team shall determine the date when services under the IEP will begin for the child. (34 CFR 300.124)

H. For all children suspected of having a disability, local educational agencies shall:

1. Use the criteria adopted by the Virginia Department of Education, as outlined in this section, for determining whether the child has a disability; and

2. Have documented evidence that, by reason of the disability, the child needs special education and related services. (34 CFR 300.307(b))

I. The Virginia Department of Education permits each local educational agency to use a process for determining whether a child has a disability based on the child's response to scientific, research-based intervention and permits each local educational agency to use other alternative research-based intervention and procedures. (34 CFR 300.307)

J. Eligibility as a child with autism. The group may determine that a child has autism if:

1. There is an adverse effect on the child's educational performance due to documented characteristics of autism, as outlined in this section; and

2. The child has any of the Pervasive Developmental Disorders, also referenced as autism spectrum disorder, such as Autistic Disorder, Asperger's Disorder, Rhett's Disorder, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified including Atypical Autism as indicated in diagnostic references.

a. Children with Asperger's Disorder demonstrate the following characteristics:

(1) Impairments in social interaction, such as marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction; failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level; a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people (i.e., by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest); or lack of social or emotional reciprocity are noted; and

(2) Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities such as encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus, apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals, stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms, persistent preoccupation with parts of objects.

b. Children with autistic disorder, in addition to the characteristics listed in subdivisions 2 a (1) and 2 a (2) of this subsection, also demonstrate impairments in communication, such as delay in, or total lack of, the development of spoken language (not accompanied by an attempt to compensate through alternative modes of communication such as gesture or mime). In individuals with adequate speech, marked impairment in the ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others, stereotyped and repetitive use of language or idiosyncratic language, or lack of varied, spontaneous make-believe play or social imitative play appropriate to developmental level is noted.

c. Children with Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified or Atypical Autism may display any of the characteristics listed in subdivisions 2 a (1), 2 a (2) and 2 b of this subsection without displaying all of the characteristics associated with either Asperger's Disorder or Autistic Disorder.

K. Eligibility as a child with deaf-blindness. The group may determine that a child has deaf-blindness if the definition of "deaf-blindness" as outlined in 8VAC20-81-10 is met.

L. Eligibility as a child with deafness. The group may determine that a child has deafness if:

1. The definition of "deafness" is met in accordance with 8VAC20-81-10;

2. There is an adverse effect on the child's educational performance due to one or more documented characteristics of a deafness, as outlined in subdivision 3 of this subsection; and

3. The child has a bilateral hearing loss (sensorineural, or mixed conductive and sensorineural), a fluctuating or a permanent hearing loss, documented auditory dyssynchrony (auditory neuropathy), and/or cortical deafness.

M. Eligibility as a child with developmental delay. (34 CFR 300.111(b))

1. The group may determine that a child has a developmental delay if the local educational agency permits the use of developmental delay as a disability category when determining whether a preschool child, aged two by September 30 to six, inclusive, is eligible under this chapter, and:

a. The definition of "developmental delay" is met in accordance with 8VAC20-81-10; or

b. The child has a physical or mental condition that has a high probability of resulting in a developmental delay.

2. Eligibility as a child with a disability for children ages two through six shall not be limited to developmental delay if eligibility can be determined under another disability category.

3. A local educational agency is not required to adopt and use developmental delay as a disability category for any children within its jurisdiction. If the local educational agency permits the use of developmental delay as a disability category, it shall comply with the eligibility criteria outlined in this section.

N. Eligibility as a child with an emotional disability. The group may determine that a child has an emotional disability if:

1. The definition of "emotional disability" is met in accordance with 8VAC20-81-10; and

2. There is an adverse effect on the child's educational performance due to one or more documented characteristics of an emotional disability.

O. Eligibility as a child with a hearing impairment.

1. The group may determine that a child has a hearing impairment if:

a. The definition of "hearing impairment" is met in accordance with 8VAC20-81-10; and

b. There is an adverse effect on the child's educational performance due to one or more documented characteristics of a hearing impairment, as outlined in subdivision 2 of this subsection.

2. Characteristics of children with a hearing impairment include unilateral hearing loss (conductive, sensorineural, or mixed), bilateral hearing loss (conductive, sensorineural, or mixed), a fluctuating or permanent hearing loss, and/or auditory dyssynchrony (auditory neuropathy). The hearing loss results in qualitative impairments in communication/educational performance.

3. The term "hard of hearing" may be used in this capacity.

P. Eligibility as a child with an intellectual disability. The group may determine that a child has an intellectual disability if:

1. The definition of "intellectual disability" is met in accordance with 8VAC20-81-10;

2. There is an adverse effect on the child's educational performance due to one or more documented characteristics of an intellectual disability, as outlined in subdivision 3 of this subsection; and

3. The child has:

a. Significantly impaired intellectual functioning, which is two or more standard deviations below the mean, with consideration given to the standard error of measurement for the assessment, on an individually administered, standardized measure of intellectual functioning;

b. Concurrently, significantly impaired adaptive behavior as determined by a composite score on an individual standardized instrument of adaptive behavior that measures two standard deviations or more below the mean; and

c. Developmental history that indicates significant impairment in intellectual functioning and a current demonstration of significant impairment is present.

Q. Eligibility as a child with multiple disabilities. The group may determine that a child has multiple disabilities if the definition of "multiple disabilities" is met in accordance with 8VAC20-81-10.

R. Eligibility as a child with an orthopedic impairment. The group may determine that a child has an orthopedic impairment if:

1. The definition of "orthopedic impairment" is met in accordance with 8VAC20-81-10; and

2. There is an adverse effect on the child's educational performance due to one or more documented characteristics of an orthopedic impairment.

S. Eligibility as a child with other health impairment. The group may determine that a child has an other health impairment if:

1. The definition of "other health impairment" is met in accordance with 8VAC20-81-10; and

2. There is an adverse effect on the child's educational performance due to one or more documented characteristics of the other health impairment.

T. Eligibility of a child with a specific learning disability. (34 CFR 300.307 and 34 CFR 300.309)

1. The group may determine that a child has a specific learning disability if:

a. The definition of "specific learning disability" is met in accordance with 8VAC20-81-10; and

b. The criteria for determining the existence of a specific learning disability are met.

2. The criteria for determining the existence of a specific learning disability are met if:

a. The child does not achieve adequately for the child's age or to meet Virginia-approved grade-level standards in one or more of the following areas when provided with learning experiences and instruction appropriate for the child's age or Virginia-approved grade-level standards:

(1) Oral expression;

(2) Listening comprehension;

(3) Written expression;

(4) Basic reading skills;

(5) Reading fluency skills;

(6) Reading comprehension;

(7) Mathematical calculations; or

(8) Mathematical problem solving.

b. The child does not make sufficient progress to meet age or Virginia-approved grade-level standards in one or more of the areas identified in subdivision 2 a of this subsection when using a process based on the child's response to scientific, research-based intervention; or the child exhibits a pattern of strengths and weaknesses in performance, achievement, or both, relative to age, Virginia-approved grade-level standards, or intellectual development, that is determined by the group to be relevant to the identification of a specific learning disability, using appropriate assessments, consistent with 8VAC20-81-70.

c. The group determines that its findings under subdivisions 2 a and b of this subsection are not primarily the result of:

(1) A visual, hearing, or motor impairment;

(2) Intellectual disability;

(3) Emotional disability;

(4) Environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage; or

(5) Limited English proficiency.

3. The Virginia Department of Education does not require the use of a severe discrepancy between intellectual ability and achievement for determining whether a child has a specific learning disability. (34 CFR 300.307(a))

U. Eligibility as a child with speech or language impairment.

1. The group may determine that a child has a speech or language impairment if:

a. The definition of "speech or language impairment" is met in accordance with 8VAC20-81-10;

b. There is an adverse effect on the child's educational performance due to one or more documented characteristics of speech or language impairment;

c. The child has a significant discrepancy from typical communication skills in one or more of the following areas: fluency, impaired articulation, expressive or receptive language impairment, or voice impairment; and

d. Information from instruments that are culturally and linguistically appropriate, including standardized and criterion-referenced measures, shall be used in conjunction with information from classroom observations to determine the severity of the communication impairment.

2. Children shall not be identified as children having a speech or language impairment if the area of concern is primarily the result of sociocultural dialect, delays/differences associated with acquisition of English as a second language, or within the purview of established norms for articulation and language development.

3. Speech language pathology services may be special education or a related service.

V. Eligibility as a child with a traumatic brain injury. The group may determine that a child has a traumatic brain injury if:

1. The definition of "traumatic brain injury" is met in accordance with 8VAC20-81-10; and

2. There is an adverse effect on the child's educational performance due to one or more documented characteristics of traumatic brain injury.

W. Eligibility as a child with a visual impairment.

1. The group may determine that a child has a visual impairment if:

a. The definition of "visual impairment" is met in accordance with 8VAC20-81-10;

b. There is an adverse effect on the child's educational performance due to one or more documented characteristics of visual impairment; and

c. The child:

(1) Demonstrates the characteristics of blindness or visual impairment, as outlined in subdivisions 2 and 3 of this subsection; or

(2) Has any of the conditions including, but not limited to oculomotor apraxia, cortical visual impairment, and/or a progressive loss of vision, which may in the future, have an adverse effect on educational performance, or a functional vision loss where field and acuity deficits alone may not meet the aforementioned criteria.

2. A child with blindness demonstrates the following:

a. Visual acuity in the better eye with best possible correction of 20/200 or less at distance or near; or

b. Visual field restriction in the better eye of remaining visual field of 20 degrees or less.

3. A child with a visual impairment demonstrates the following:

a. Visual acuity better than 20/200 but worse than 20/70 at distance and/or near; or

b. Visual field restriction in the better eye of remaining visual field of 70 degrees or less but better than 20 degrees.

X. Children found not eligible for special education.

1. Information relevant to instruction for a child found not eligible for special education shall be provided to the child's teachers or any appropriate committee. Parental consent to release information shall be secured for children who are placed by their parents in private schools that are not located in the local educational agency of the parent's residence. (34 CFR 300.622)

2. If the school division decides that a child is not eligible for special education and related services, prior written notice, in accordance with 8VAC20-81-170 shall be given to the parent(s) including the parent(s) right to appeal the decision through the due process hearing procedures. (34 CFR 300.503; 34 CFR 300.507)

Statutory Authority

§§ 22.1-16 and 22.1-214 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Volume 25, Issue 21, eff. July 7, 2009; Errata, 26:4 VA.R. 447-448 October 26, 2009; amended, Virginia Register Volume 26, Issue 08, eff. January 25, 2010.

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