SpeechPathology.com Phone: 800-242-5183
SP - Adriana Lavi Sponsored Course 2020

Three Prongs of Eligibility in Schools

August 13, 2018



What are the three prongs of eligibility in the school setting that help a student qualify for services? 


For anyone who has had an outpatient provider, a parent, a teacher, etc. ask why a certain student does not qualify for services, it is important to know that in the school setting eligibility is based on three prongs. It is not just the presence of a disability.

Prong 1

Prong 1 addresses the question, “Is there a disability”? Is the child eligible for a speech-language impairment under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)? We need a good assessment that takes into account the student’s academic and functional performance, as well as their language knowledge, in order to make this determination.

In schools, we also have to determine which disability is the most applicable under IDEA's 13 categories of disability. This is equally important. For example, we need to be able to differentiating a real lack of pragmatic knowledge from other deficits that may impact the ability to consistently demonstrate pragmatic knowledge, or other syndromes or conditions that have similar characteristics.

In terms of eligibility, there is some variation from state to state, and to a certain degree, from district to district. Generally, the findings must fall within the moderate range.

Prong 2

Prong 2 asks, “Is there an adverse effect on educational performance?” This is why the assessment data needs to include information related to academic and functional performance. Again, this may seem like an odd question to anyone not in the school setting, it is possible to have an impairment that is not affecting the student academically or functionally yet, especially in younger grades.

Also, the IEP goals in the school setting have to relate to educational performance in some way. For example, many parents ask the IEP team about helping their child develop friendships. It is important to talk about the development of skills that are necessary for having friends as well as being a friend. In other words, it is difficult to have friends if the student cannot jointly attend to an activity with his/her peers, or if they struggle to have conversations. So, the SLP can address those needs through the IEP by working on joint attention, perspective taking, improving the ability to ask questions, and so on.

What is educational performance? What does that term really mean? IDEA does not use the word “academics” to define educational performance, nor is it defined by the Office of Special Education Programs. In fact, both of these federal entities have chosen consistently not to define it.  The Office of Special Education Programs wants schools to consider progress with both academic and non-academic skills when determining whether a child's impairment adversely affects his or her educational performance.

Prong 3

To round out the three prongs of eligibility, the third prong is determining if specially-designed instruction or services are needed in order to help the student make progress in the general education curriculum. This is where we begin considering services: which services; who is going to provide the service; the amount of service; where the service will be provided; and so on.

So, when thinking about the three prongs of eligibility, these are three very complex questions.

Please refer to the SpeechPathology.com course, Pragmatics and Social Communication: Educational Impact, for more in-depth information on how social communication impacts the goal of education and the difference between academic performance and functional performance.



Related Courses

Build and Generalize: Strategies for Systematic Language Instruction for Early Learners with Autism and Other Complex Communication Disorders
Presented by Rosemarie Griffin, MA, CCC-SLP, BCBA


Rosemarie Griffin, MA, CCC-SLP, BCBA
Course: #8220Level: Intermediate1.5 Hour
  'Wonderful presentation with practical examples and suggestions for therapy'   Read Reviews
In this course, participants will learn the scope and sequence for systematic language instruction for students with autism and other complex communication disorders. Videos and images will be used to illustrate these concepts.

Self-Determination and Transition to Adulthood: Promoting Autonomy and Student Involvement
Presented by Michael Wehmeyer, PhD


Michael Wehmeyer, PhD
Course: #8512Level: Advanced1 Hour
  'Great information presented with great resources'   Read Reviews
This is Part 2 of the 5-part series, Targeting the Social, Academic, & Transition Needs of Young Teens with ASD. The self-determination of youth and young adults with disabilities has been linked to more positive school and adult outcomes. This course will introduce self-determination, review the evidence for its importance to adolescent development, and discuss evidence-based practices to promote self-determination and student involvement in educational and transition planning. This course is presented in partnership with the American Board of Child Language and Language Disorders (ABCLLD).

Building Skills in Inferring and Summarizing for Older Students with Social Communication Disorders
Presented by Carol Westby, PhD, CCC-SLP


Carol Westby, PhD, CCC-SLP
Course: #8518Level: Advanced1 Hour
  'I liked explanations of different types inferences'   Read Reviews
This is Part 4 of the five-part series, Targeting the Social, Academic, & Transition Needs of Young Teens with ASD. This course will describe (1) types of inferences, (2) difficulties making inferences, and (3) evidence-based strategies to promote the ability to make inferences. This course is presented in partnership with the American Board of Child Language and Language Disorders (ABCLLD).

Research Watch Report, Issue 6
Presented by Meredith Poore Harold, PhD, CCC-SLP


Meredith Poore Harold, PhD, CCC-SLP
Course: #8289Level: Intermediate0.5 Hours
  'I liked being able to read about recent research studies in the field without having to read the whole study myself'   Read Reviews
This collection of reviews highlights a month of clinically relevant research findings for pediatric and school-based SLPs. Topics include use of biofeedback in articulation intervention, screenings and predictors of social outcomes for children with autism, emergent literacy in children with hearing loss, and grammatical intervention in children with language disorders.

Interpreting Test Scores & Key Concepts with Standardized Tests
Presented by Carolyn (Carney) Sotto, PhD, CCC-SLP


Carolyn (Carney) Sotto, PhD, CCC-SLP
Course: #8295Level: Intermediate1 Hour
  'The slides supported the narrative, and contained sufficient information to reduce separate note-taking'   Read Reviews
Many of the assessment instruments we use are norm-referenced tests that are standardized. There are certain statistical properties needed to understand the psychometric criteria of the tests, which is part of being an informed consumer. This course will help SLPs understand fundamental concepts of descriptive statistics so they can interpret test scores correctly and summarize quantitative data about their clients or patients.