Identifying and Addressing the Needs of Struggling Students (Statistics…
Identifying and Addressing the Needs of Struggling Students
How Can I Help?
Follow the 10 Basic Steps for the Special Education Process under IDEA
Listed by the US Dept. of Education here
Child is identified
Children can be identified by the state. Services, like
in the US, can help by identifying children with disabilities who may need special education services.
Children can be identified by the school and parents. Being aware of the signs to look out for can help with early detection. Collaboration among the school and parents play an integral role in identifying a student's needs.
Child is evaluated
The results of the evaluation are used to help determine what services a student may be eligible for. "The evaluation must asses the child in all areas related to the child's suspected disability."
The evaluation can be done at the school or the parents my choose to have an independent evaluation for their child.
Eligibility is decided
A team of school staff and the parents come together to discuss and determine if the child qualifies as having a disability according to IDEA.
Child is found eligible for services
If the child is determined to have a disability under IDEA, they are eligible for special education services.
IEP meeting is scheduled
Once a child is found eligible for services, the school and parents must meet to develop an Individual Education Plan (IEP) within 30 days of the eligibility determination.
IEP meeting is held and IEP is written
When the IEP team meets, they collaborate to write out the IEP for the student. The student can start receiving special services as soon as possible after the IEP is agreed upon.
Services are provided
It is the school's responsibility to ensure the IEP is carried out as written. It's very important all the school staff have access to the IEP and know their roles in implementing it.
Students may receive specific "accommodations, modifications, and supports" to support their individual needs. Teachers will have an agreed upon plan to differentiate their instruction for the student.
Progress is measured and reported to parents
The school must measure the student's progress towards the goals outlined in the IEP.
Regular communication between the school and parents is necessary to continue to collaborate on the child's progress and whether or not the goals will be met.
IEP is reviewed
The IEP is reviewed and may be revised if needed.
This is a collaboration of the IEP team (parents and school staff)
Child is reevaluated
The child must be reevaluated at least every three years under IDEA. However, the parents or teachers may request reevaluation more often.
The Finnish Model
The following video,
Finland's Formula for School Success
, discusses the importance of early detection
Obstacles to Identifying
As pointed out by the NCLD here
Some gifted students with learning difficulties can go undetected due to high test scores
Processes like the response to intervention (RTI) can be incorrectly used to delay or deny a formal assessment
Some parents don't want their child to be "labeled"
Signs of struggle may be overlooked or misinterpreted
Recorded by the National Center for Learning Disabilities here
"1 in 16 public school students have IEPs for specific learning disabilities or other health impairments."
"...Many of the 1 in 5 children with learning and attention issues are not formally identified with a disability."
Take a closer look at this infographic by the NCLD showing the categories of students receiving special education in 2015-2016 here
Click here to see the full graph by the NCLD showing the identification rates by race in the US
Signs to Observe
Appears to not be listening when spoken to
Difficulty sitting still or staying seated
Require frequent reminders
Often leaving class
Difficulty interacting and socializing with their peers
Repeats words over and over
Avoidance of certain tasks
Knowledge & Skills
Gaps in knowledge of basic subjects
Difficulty retaining information
Difficulty interpreting information
Trouble with motor skills
Dr. Kimberly Williams discusses some of the signs she looks for to detect a student with learning difficulties
Video accessed here
Edutopia. (2012, January 25). Finland's Formula for School Success (Education Everywhere Series). Retrieved August 1, 2018, from
Howcast. (2012, May 15). How to Recognize a Learning Disability | Child Psychology. Retrieved August 01, 2018, from
National Centers for Learning Disabilities. (2017). The State of LD: Identifying Struggling Students. Retrieved August 2, 2018, from
Steinert. (2013). Identifying and Addressing Struggling Learners. Retrieved August 1, 2018, from
US Department of Education. (2007, March 23). Guide to the Individualized Education Program. Retrieved August 2, 2018, from