Ed-Fi Working Draft 8: Special Education Program Eligibility Model
Technical Suite: Suite 3
Status: Draft

By: Special Education Program Special Interest Group 
Contact: Sayee.Srinivasan@ed-fi.org
Publication Date: October 7, 2021


The Working Draft outlines a proposed new Special Education Program Eligibility (SPED) elements for the Ed-Fi Data Standard.  The purpose of the model is to allow agencies to transfer SPED eligibility data, in order to perform tasks such as addressing and improving timely evaluation of children and support research and analysis. 

The data in this model relates to the eligibility determination process.  Provider source systems would use this API to transfer data from their systems to other downstream systems – such as state data collections systems, other local operational systems, or analytical systems.

The initial scale of the data id targeted at providing states sufficient coverage to meet compliance requirement from the US Department of Education, but the scope is intended to grow over time as local use cases materialize.


General Discussion 

State Education Agencies, as part of their State Performance Plan, need to evaluate their efforts to implement the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA 2004) and to include updates of their continuous improvement of the implementation through their Annual Performance Report submitted every year. In alignment with IDEA, states need to meet the two monitoring priorities identified by the US Department of Education/Office of Special Education Programs (ED/OSEP).  They are listed below:

  • Monitoring Priority - Effective General Supervision Part B/Child Find (SPP Indicator - 11)
  • Monitoring Priority - Effective General Supervision Part B/Effective Transition (SPP Indicator - 12)

SEAs collect the 'Child Find' and 'Effective Transition' data as an aggregate currently. SEAs involved in the Ed-Fi Special Interest Group agreed without exception that they need to collect this in a granular format at the student level.  The new model allows states to collect better data for required improvement and for monitoring activities communicated to the Office of Special Education Program.  

Beyond SEAs, local education agencies in the Ed-Fi community also voiced interest in using this data for local analytics, but use cases there were still in formation.

Use Cases

After a parent gives consent for their child to be evaluated for Special Education eligibility, LEAs are required by law to perform the evaluation within a state established timeframe (for example, in Wisconsin it is 60 days and in Texas it is 45 days).  Failure to perform the evaluation within the timeframe is an instance of noncompliance, which is important for monitoring and for the SEA special education team's annual reporting.

For evaluations that occur outside the timeframe, there may be allowable exceptions. For example, in Wisconsin there are three allowable exceptions that do not result in noncompliance: the parent not making the student available for evaluation, an evaluation for a specific learning disability (which does not follow the 60-day timeline), or if a LEA picks up an evaluation that another LEA started for transfer students. Wisconsin wants to collect if any of these exceptions apply.

Finally, for all instances in which the timeline is exceeded , states want to collect the "delay reason" it was exceeded.  The SPED SIG identified that there are three are three data collections that are part of this.  

  • Use Case 1 - Eligibility Determination for students, ages 3-21 - Refers to  timely evaluation of students, ages 3-21, for special education services under Part B of IDEA. This will address the data need for the 'Effective General Supervision Part B/Child Find' federal requirement
  • Use Case 2 - Eligibility Determination for students, ages 0 up to 3 years of age - Refers to children who are referred from Part C of IDEA prior to age 3, found eligible for Part B of IDEA to receive early childhood special education services from local education agency.  This will address the data need for the federal requirement, 'Effective General Supervision Part B/Effective Transition'.  
  • Use Case 3 - Eligibility Determination for students under Part C IDEA - Refers to timely evaluation of students, ages 0 up to 3 years of age for special education services under Part C of IDEA.  The SPED SIG has identified that the Part C eligibility determination process is the same as the one under Part B IDEA (Use Case 1), hence the members concluded that a generic model should be in place to address the needs under Part B and Part C IDEA. 

Working Draft Details

Technical Recommendations

The SPED SIG team has ruled out the option of extending the existing Ed-Fi model StudentSpecialEducationProgramAssociation to capture the evaluation information for the following reasons:

  • The evaluation is very different from the program services that students participate in.  
  • Not all students who are evaluated will end up participating in program services.  States still want to capture all students' evaluations whether they participate in a program or not.  
  • States restrict to who they provider e access to their SpecialEducationProgramAssociation, so separating these elements can improve security 

The SIG decided to extend the Ed-Fi model with an element StudentSpecialEducationProgramEligibilityAssociation. The extension entity will be used to address all the three use cases stated above.  From SIG conversations, it was evident that the ConsentToEvaluationDate element will be an appropriate start date for the eligibility determination process whether it involves an initial evaluation or a reevaluation process. The option of modeling this as a referral workflow process was ruled out as there is no solid requirement at the point from states.  The Alliance went through the CEDS eligibility determination model and has adopted the naming conventions and structures wherever possible.   

StudentSpecialEducationProgramEligibilityAssociation Extension to Ed-Fi Data Standard  

Link to the Visio diagram of the model is attached here. 

SPED Eligibility Data Elements 

Data Element Data Definition
EducationOrganization (Primary Key)

Indicates the education organization where the student was evaluated for special education services.  This could be a school or a district.  

Student (Primary Key)Student who is evaluated by a Local Education Agency or a School.  This is often their resident district.  Students could be enrolled or unenrolled or private schooled or home schooled.  
Program (Primary Key)Indicates the program that the student is being evaluated for.  Example Value - 'Special Education Program'
ConsentToEvaluationReceivedDate (Primary Key)Indicates the date on which the Local Education Agency received written consent for the evaluation from the student's parent.  This is the first day of the evaluation timeframe.  
IDEAPartIndicates if the evaluation is done under Part B IDEA or Part C IDEA


The date on which the student's parent gave a consent (Parent Consent Date).  


Indicates the evaluation completed status.  Example Value - 'True' or 'False'


Indicates the month, day, and year when the written individual evaluation report was completed.


Indicates if this is an initial or reevaluation.  


Indicates the month, day, and year the LEA held the admission, review, and dismissal committee meeting regarding the child's eligibility determination for special education and related services. An individualized education plan (IEP) would be developed and implemented for a child admitted into special education on this same date


Indicates whether or not the student was determined eligible and enrolled in special education and related services as a result of the evaluation report and the admission, review, and dismissal committee meeting decision.  Example value - 'True' or 'False'


Refers to the justification as to why the evaluation report was completed beyond the State-established timeframe.  This is a descriptor field and will have allowed reasons as descriptor values.  


Refers to additional information for delay in doing the evaluation.  This is a free flow text.  


Indicates the number of student absences, if any, beginning the first instructional day following the date on which the Local Education Agency (LEA) received written parental consent for the evaluation.


Indicates the month, day, and year the LEA Notification of Potentially Eligible for Special Education Services was sent by the early childhood intervention (ECI) contractor to the local education agency (LEA) to notify them that a child enrolled in ECI will shortly reach the age of eligibility for Part B services and the child is potentially eligible for services under Part B, early childhood special education (ECSE). The LEA Notification constitutes a referral to the LEA for an initial evaluation and eligibility determination of the child which the parent may opt out from the referral.


Indicates the month, day, and year when the transition conference was held (for a child receiving early childhood intervention (ECI) services) among the lead agency, the family, and the LEA where the child resides to discuss the child’s potential eligibility for early childhood special education (ECSE) services.

Implementation Guidance

Authorization Guidance for the Implementation 

SEAs described that a student's relationship to a local education agency exists in the form of students receiving services from that agency and that may include general education, eligibility determination, program services, or transportation services.  The recommended authorization for the above model would use both the StudentSchoolAssociation resource for the enrolled students and also the StudentEducationOrganizationResponsibilityAssociation for unenrolled students receiving services from a local education agency.  

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