Educational Pathway

This guide was created by Parent Network Specialists, who are West Virginia parents with experience navigating the systems of care for their own children with special health care needs.

 the pathway from the handout

Just as each child is unique, each family’s journey through the medical and educational system is different. In this guide, we try to give a general idea of what parents can expect.

Click below to learn more about each program along the journey.

  1. 1. WV Birth to Three
  2. 2. Individual Family Service Plan
  3. 3. Transition Planning meeting
  4. 4. Individual Education Program (IEP)
  5. 5. Exended school year
  6. 6. Grades 1-6
    • Teacher Conferences
    • Annual Reviews
    • Three year Re-Evaluations
  7. 10. Rehabilitation Services Referral
  8. 11. College Exploration
  9. 12. Adult Legal and Financial Needs (Prior to Age 18)
  10. 13. Adult Registrations (Age 18)
  11. 14. Applications
    • Day Programs
    • Residential Homes
    • College
  12. 15. Graduation
  13. Adulthood Journey

1. WV Birth to Three

Provides early intervention services to children age three and under who exhibit a developmental, physical, cognitive or social delay, or who may be at risk of delays.

2. Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP)

A plan developed by a professional team and the child’s family for special services to children with developmental delays under age three. Once a child turns three, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is developed if special education services are deemed necessary.

3. Transition planning meeting

All children who receive Birth to Three (BTT) services are referred to their local school district to be evaluated for special education services. If you choose, your BTT service coordinator will schedule a transition planning meeting at your child’s home school at least 90 days prior to your child’s third birthday. Service and educational needs are discussed and consent for your child to be evaluated will be signed.

4. Individualized Education Program (IEP)

A written plan, typically covering a 12-month period, that is developed, reviewed and revised in accordance with West Virginia Department of Education Policy 2419. The plan describes the services, modifications and adaptations that the school is responsible for providing to your child.


Once the school district receives the consent to evaluate form, evaluations to determine eligibility for special education and related services such as physical, occupational or speech therapy must be completed.

Determine eligibility

After evaluations are completed, the Eligibility Committee (EC), which includes the parents and a team of qualified professionals, must meet within 80 school days to determine eligibility. You are allowed to invite someone to come and help you make decisions including a family member, friend or professional advocate.

Special needs pre-kindergarten

A special education program designed to meet the needs of children with disabilities, or those who are experiencing developmental delays. Services for preschool children (ages 3 through 5) are provided free of charge.

5. Extended School Year (ESY)

Your child may be eligible for special education and related services beyond the normal school year, typically in the summer, in accordance with the student’s IEP. This should be discussed at the annual IEP meeting.

6. Grades one through six

These years include teacher conferences, annual reviews and IEP meetings. A re-evaluation is required every three years to determine if your child continues to require special education services. These may be done with or without testing. The IEP team, which you are part of, will make that decision.

7. Determine diploma type (grade seven)

It is time consider the type of diploma your child will obtain:

Modified diploma: Students identified by the IEP team to be unable, even with extended learning opportunities and significant instructional modifications, to meet state and county standard graduation requirements may receive a modified diploma. Most universities and the U.S. military do not accept a modified diploma. Students receiving a modified diploma are allowed to participate in graduation ceremonies with their classmates and continue with special education services through age 21.

Standard diploma: The standard diploma is a formal documentation and recognition that a student has satisfactorily completed both state and county school district graduation requirements. This type of diploma is accepted by community colleges, universities and by the U.S. military

8. Transition planning (age 14)

At this age, your child should attend IEP meetings, have a voice in their educational plan and participate in exploring options for life after graduation. The IEP team will consider your child’s strengths and preferences as they seek opportunities to begin skill building in interest areas.

9. Future planning (age 16)

When your child turns 16 years old, the IEP should include appropriate goals that are related to his or her future after high school, to include education, independent living and employment. Assessments should be conducted prior to the IEP to establish the current skill level of the student.

10. Rehabilitation services referral

WV Division of Rehabilitation Services (WV DRS) helps people with disabilities establish and reach their vocational goals. The goal for all DRS clients is to become productive working citizens. The vocational rehabilitation process should begin at least two years prior to high school graduation. They can help guide your child with his or her college or employment goals.

11. College exploration

Explore colleges if this is your child's educational goal and plan for college entrance exams and college application processes.

12. Adult legal and fnancial needs (prior to age 18)

Any legal issues related to adulthood should be addressed based on your child’s ability to make his/her own decisions and give consent. There are many options to consider when seeking to provide help to your child in decision-making. Attorney assistance may be needed. The student should be informed of any pending transfer of rights, and a statement of consent should be included in the IEP. A parent may continue to attend and participate in IEP meetings as a person the student selects to assist him or her through the process.

According to the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Program, a child becomes an adult at age 18 and different rules apply when determining eligibility. Contact Social Security to learn more.

13. Adult registrations (age 18)

All 18 year old men are required to register with the Selective Service System, regardless their level of functioning. Selective Service allows for a friend or relative to help a man with disabilities to fll out the registration form if he is unable to do it himself.

At age 18, all women and men may register to vote.

14. Applications

If appropriate, individuals should apply to adult agencies for vocational, day programs and supported living. If necessary, apply for residential placement waiting lists as the application process can be long and involved. Those who plan to attend college, should begin the college application process between their junior and senior years of high school.

15. Graduation

Graduate from high school and plan for adulthood journey If modifed diploma was awarded and the individual attended school until the age 21, special education programs are terminated once the student fulflls their IEP goals or when they turn 21 years old.

Adulthood journey

Your child will begin an adult journey to pursue additional learning goals. Professionals and parents should support and encourage young adults as they take a more active role in their long-term educational, vocational and independent living skills goals.