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Supplemental Educational Services Under No Child Left Behind

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By Candace Cortiella, The Advocacy Institute

Q: Do supplemental educational services for eligible students with disabilities become part of a student's IEP?

A: No. Supplemental services must be provided in addition to any specialized instruction the student is receiving as part of the IEP. As such, these services should not be included on the student's IEP. Supplemental services should not be considered a substitute for special education services. However, any supplemental services delivered to eligible students with disabilities must be consistent with the students' IEPs. Parents should have the opportunity to select a provider that best meets the needs of their student with a disability.

For example, if a student with a reading disability is receiving special education services that involve instruction using a specific reading program, such as the Wilson Reading System®, and is eligible for supplemental educational services, parents may want to look for an approved provider who is trained in that methodology.

Q: Are supplemental services providers given access to the educational records of students they serve, including IEPs?

A: Once a provider has been chosen by the parents, a student's educational records may be disclosed to supplemental service providers by the school district. However, such disclosure requires the written consent of the parents. The consent must specify the records that may be disclosed, such as an IEP or other IDEA-related records, the purpose of the disclosure, and the identity of the party to whom the disclosure may be made. Parents of students with disabilities should make sure that the records being disclosed are relevant and necessary for the provision of supplemental services.

Providers are prohibited from disclosing the identity of any students receiving supplemental services, including students with disabilities, without the written permission of the parents.

Q: How are supplemental educational services monitored for results?

A: Once parents select a provider, the school district must develop an agreement with the provider that includes:

  • The development of specific achievement goals for the student
  • How the student's progress will be measured
  • A timetable for improving achievement that is consistent with the student's IEP
  • How the student's parents and teacher will be regularly informed of the student's progress

It is important for parents to remember that the NCLB-mandated supplemental educational services their child receives result from a contract between the school district and the approved provider - not between the parent and the provider. As such, the district may terminate the supplemental services a provider is providing to a student if the provider is unable to meet the student's specific achievement goals and the timetable set out in the agreement. School districts may also allow parents who are unsatisfied with the academic progress their student is making with a provider to change to a new provider. However, this option is not required by NCLB.

Candace Cortiella's work as Director of the nonprofit The Advocacy Institute focuses on improving the lives of people with learning disabilities, through public policy and other initiatives. The mother of a young adult with learning disabilities, she lives in the Washington, D.C., area.