Preschool Eligibility


    Students evaluated for eligibility for special education preschool services must meet a three prong test to determine eligibility for special education and related services, as defined in the Idaho Special Education Manual, Chapter 4:  Section 7.

    Three-Prong Test of Eligibility

    To demonstrate eligibility for special education services all three of the following criteria shall be met and documented.  This is often called the three-prong test for eligibility.

     The Eligibility Report shall document each of the following three criteria:

    1. the student has a disability according to the established Idaho criteria;
    2. the student's condition adversely affects educational performance; and
    3. the student needs specially designed instruction.

    Adverse Impact:  A determination made by the evaluation team that the student's progress is impeded by the disability to the extent that the student's educational performance measures significantly and consistently below the level of similar age peers preventing the student from benefiting from general education.  Educational performance refers the student's performance in academic achievement, developmental and or functional skills.  The phrases "adverse impact" and "adverse effect" are used interchangeably in this Manual and have the same meaning.

    Needs Specially Designed Instruction:  Special education is specially designed instruction, provided at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of a student with a disability.  specially designed instruction means adapted, as appropriate to meet the needs of an eligible student, the content, methodology, or delivery of instruction to address the unique needs of the student that result from the student's disability and to ensure access of the child to the general curriculum so that he or she can meet Idaho Content Standards or Idaho Core Standards that apply to all students.


    Definition:  The term developmental delay may be used only for students ages three (3) until their tenth (10th) birthday who are experiencing developmental delays as measured by appropriate diagnostic instruments and procedures in one or more of the following areas:

    1. cognitive development - includes skills involving perceptual discrimination, memory, reasoning, academic skills, and conceptual development;
    2. physical development - includes skills involving coordination of both the large and small muscles of the body (i.e. gross, fine and perceptual motor skills);
    3. communication development - includes skills involving expressive and receptive communication abilities, both verbal and nonverbal;
    4. social or emotional development - includes skills involving meaningful social interactions with adults and other children including self-expression and coping skills; or
    5. adaptive development - includes daily living skills (e.g., eating dressing, and toileting) as well as skills involving attention and personal responsibility.

    The category of developmental delay should not be used when the student clearly meets the eligibility criteria for another specific disability category.

    A student cannot qualify for special education services under developmental delay beyond his or her tenth (10th) birthday unless he or she has been determined to be eligible as having a disability other than developmental delay.

    State Eligibility Criteria for Developmental Delay:  An evaluation team may determine that a student is eligible for special education services as a student with a developmental delay when all of the following criteria are met:

    1. An evaluation that meets the procedures outlines in Section 5 of this chapter has been conducted.
    2. The student is at least three (3) years of age but less than ten (10) years of age.
    3. The student has developmental and/or learning problems that are not primarily the result of limited English proficiency, cultural difference, environmental disadvantage, or economic disadvantage.
    4. The student meets either of the following two criteria, in one or more of the broad developmental areas listed below.


    1. The student functions at least 2.0 standard deviations below the mean in one broad developmental area (30 percent delay in age equivalency, or functions at or below the 3rd percentile).
    2. The student funtions at least 1.5 standard deviations below the mean in two or more broad developmental areas (25 percent delay in age equivalency, or functions at or below the 7th percentile).
    3. The student's condition adversely affects educational performance.

     Broad Developmental Areas:

    1. Cognitive skills (e.g., perceptual discrimination, memory, reasoning, pre-academic, and conceptual development);
    2. Physical skills (i.e., fine, gross, and perceptual motor skills);
    3. Communication skills (i.e., including verbal and nonverbal, and receptive and expressive);
    4. Social or emotional skills; or
    5. Adaptive skills, including self-help skills.



     1.   Autism Spectrum Disorder

     2.   Intellectual Disability

     3.   Deaf-Blindness

     4.   Deafness

     5.   Developmental Delay (identified above)

     6.   Emotional Disturbance

     7.  Other Health Impairment (OHI)

     8.  Hearing Impairment

     9.   Specific Learning Disability

    10.  Multiple disabilities

    11.  Orthopedic Impairment

    12.  Speech or Language Impairment:  Language

    13.  Speech or Language Impairment:  Speech

    14.  Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

    15.  Visual Impairment Including Blindness