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U.S. Department of Education: Promoting Educational Excellence for all Americans

Consistency with State criteria (Sec. 300.307(b))

Comment: Several commenters expressed concern about allowing States to decide on the approach to determining whether a child has an SLD, and requested the Department develop criteria to be used across the nation. However, numerous commenters supported the development of State criteria and requiring public agencies to use the State criteria to determine whether a child has an SLD. Many commenters stated that this requirement is necessary to prevent inconsistent eligibility requirements among LEAs in a State. Other commenters stated that the requirement exceeds statutory authority and that LEAs should be allowed to make decisions about the criteria and methods to identify children with SLD.

Discussion: The Department believes that eligibility criteria must be consistent across a State to avoid confusion among parents and school district personnel. The Department also believes that requiring LEAs to use State criteria for identifying children with disabilities is consistent with the State's responsibility under section 612(a)(3) of the Act to locate, identify, and evaluate all eligible children with disabilities in the State. We believe this provides the Department with the authority to require a public agency to use State criteria in determining whether a child has an SLD, consistent with Sec. Sec. 300.307 through 300.311.

Changes: None.

Comment: A few commenters requested requiring States to adopt and implement only one model to determine whether a child has an SLD. However, several commenters requested that States and LEAs have the flexibility to use more than one model. One commenter noted that States need flexibility to determine eligibility criteria until there is greater understanding of the effectiveness of evidence-based protocols in identifying children with SLD.

Discussion: There is nothing in the Act that would require a State to use one model of identification to identify a child with an SLD. We do not believe the regulations should include such a requirement, because section 614(b)(6) of the Act indicates that some flexibility in the selection of models of identification by LEAs can be appropriate, if permitted by the State.

Changes: None.

Comment: One commenter recommended that the Department require States to develop a plan to implement Statewide eligibility criteria that includes dissemination of research-based models, collecting data on the use of such models, providing professional development on the State's criteria, and implementing appropriate services and instruction.

Discussion: We agree that it could be helpful for States to develop a plan to implement any new SLD criteria, as recommended by the commenter. However, we do not believe States should be required to adopt such a plan, as this is a matter that is best left to individual States to decide.

Changes: None.