Levels of Service

Professional Development Opportunity Workshop


The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law enforced to ensure free and appropriate public education to children with disabilities. The IDEA requires that all children with disabilities receive appropriate instruction in the least restrictive environment. The IDEA also requires schools to provide a full continuum of services ranging from regular classrooms with support to special classes and special school placements as needed.

Continuum of services available in an Individualized Education Program (IEP)

  • Services considered to meet the individual needs of each child and family

  • Special instruction and related services are provided in the least restrictive environment (LRE) to meet the student’s goals and objectives outlined in an IEP as developed by an IEP team

  • Continuum of services in an IEP determines which services will be administered to students

  • In an IEP meeting, these services are evaluated for effectiveness. If a student responds well to a given service, that service is continued. If a student is not responding well to a given service, others are suggested.

  • Frequency and intensity of services is also evaluated for continuum and adjusted accordingly based on effectiveness and/or expected successfulness

Descriptors for each continuum of service


  • Separate Facility (outside of district)

    • Nonpublic special education programs provide educational, therapeutic and/or residential services to students with disabilities

    • Students typically exhibit such severe and complicated clinical and educational needs that school districts may refer their students to outside district placements after exploring other LRE options

    • Federal and state laws allow programmatic options for students who may require exceptional education and/or clinical intervention to meet individual needs

    • Help serve and promote the continuation and improvement of IEP services for students with disabilities

    • Approved nonpublic special education programs are privately run, but publicly funded through a referral process from the student’s school district

  • Self-Contained Classrooms

    • Classrooms with fewer special needs students and smaller setting

    • Generally comprised of ten or fewer students with unique disabilities who are most commonly instructed by a lead teacher with a certification in special education

    • Cater to diverse needs such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), developmental issues, severe behavioral concerns, students with specific academic struggles in various subjects, or who are learning to read with dyslexia

    • Provides a more positive and supportive environment for academic, personal, and social development

    • Special needs experts focus on an array of skills, lessons, and tutorials to enhance student’s progress

    • Low student to teacher ratio for one-on-one assistance and support

    • Students may spend the entire school day in self-contained classes, part of the school day, or may only attend periodically

  • Home/Hospital Instruction

    • Students with verified medical conditions, which prevent them from attending school, may receive services on a temporary basis in the home or hospital with a physician’s referral

    • Home Based Services: provided by a special education home based teacher to students with disabilities because of extensive suspensions or the student’s medical condition is a part of or related to special education eligibility

    • The special education supervisor should be contacted when services are required

    • Hospital Based Services: instructional services made available to students who are able to participate in educational instruction, but are medically unable to attend school for a minimum of ten consecutive days or intermittent periods of time throughout the school year

Examples of continuum of services

  • Adapted Physical Education- physical education that has been adapted or modified, so that it is as appropriate for the disabled individual as it is for a nondisabled students

    • Physical education is mandatorily provided to all students under federal law

  • Audiological Services- provide evaluations for students to assist in determining the nature, severity, and educational implications of the hearing loss

    • Give recommendations to the student’s IEP team about appropriate instructional strategies, environmental accommodations, and appropriate amplification.

    • May suggest hearing support services

  • Teacher Consultative Services- special education provider communicates and collaborates with general education teachers for instruction strategies and/or behavioral management concerns

  • Braillist and Interpretation Services- support services required to assist deaf/hard of hearing and blind students to help benefit from special education

    • IEP, including parents determine whether student needs an educational interpreter

    • Accommodation is recorded in IEP and number of hours per day must be specified.

  • Occupational Therapy- provided by schools to disabled children who require this service to assist with special education

    • The use of purposeful activity to facilitate a child’s active participation in self-maintenance, academic pursuits, and interactive play activities that occur in school settings

    • Direct and indirect services

  • Assistive Technology- devices are any item, piece of equipment, or software used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of a student with disabilities

    • Low-tech assistive technology include items such as pencil grips, digital magnifiers, paper stabilizers

    • High-tech assistive technology includes items like voice synthesizers, recorders, computers, or Braille readers

    • IEP team decides whether assistive technology services are necessary in order for students to benefit from their education program

  • Speech and Language Services- provided to students who have difficulty learning English and those students who have diagnosed speech and language impairments to an extent that it adversely affects the student’s educational performance and cannot be corrected without special education and related services

    • Speech therapy is available for students who have a disorder in communication in articulation, language, fluency, and voice

    • Foreign students who have difficulty learning and comprehending English may be eligible

Professionals Providing Service within Continuum

Professionals Providing Service within Continuum

  • Adapted Physical Education teacher

  • Braillist

  • Language Interpreter

  • School occupational therapist and occupational therapy assistants

  • Language Translators

  • Audiologist

  • Speech-language pathologist

  • Assistive technology certified professional


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