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Federal Guidance on Students with Disabilities with High Cognition

The purpose of this memorandum is to remind school districts of their obligation to evaluate all students suspected of having a disability regardless of their cognitive skills. In a December 20, 2013 letter to Dr. Jim Delisle (Letter to Delisle), the United States Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs provided guidance and clarification regarding determining eligibility for special education programs and services for students with disabilities with high cognition. The Letter to Delisle specifically addresses students with high cognition who may be eligible for special education programs and services as a student with a learning disability but also cites the broader requirements that:

  • an individual evaluation must include a variety of assessment tools and strategies to gather relevant functional, developmental and academic information about the student that may assist in determining whether the student is a student with a disability [See 8 NYCRR section 200.4(b)]; and
  • no single measure or assessment is used as the sole criterion for determining whether a student is a student with a disability or for determining an appropriate educational program for a student [See 8 NYCRR section 200.4(b)(6)(v)].

School districts should review the attached federal guidance to ensure their district's procedures relating to individual evaluations are consistent with federal and State standards.

Questions on this memorandum should be directed to or to the Special Education Quality Assurance Office in your region.