Tutoring as a Direct Service in IDEA

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Where should we put tutoring for a student on the IEP page? Is tutoring considered a reasonable accommodation or modification?

Tutoring is a direct service, not a modification or an accommodation. IDEA supports tutoring and direct one-to-one remediation of required academic skills.

If a child does not have an IEP and needs to learn to read to access the curriculum in regular or general education, tutoring could be included in the child’s Section 504 Plan.

Tutoring in IDEA 2004

For tutoring in IDEA, read the definitions of a child with a disability, related services, and special education in 20 U.S.C. 1401.

(3) Child With A Disability
(A) In General. The term ‘child with a disability means a child
(i) with [various labels] . . . and
(ii) who, by reason thereof, needs special education and related services.

(26) Related Services
(A) The term ‘related service’ means . . . developmental, corrective and other supportive services, including . . . services . . . therapy . . . designed to enable a child with a disability to receive [FAPE and] . . . benefit from special education . . .

(29) Special Education
The term ‘special education’ means specially designed instruction, at no cost to parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability.

The definition of “related services supports individualized one-on-one remediation, i.e., tutoring. The definition of “specially designed instruction” also supports tutoring.

I argue that under the definition of a “child with a disability,” the child needs special education (specially designed instruction) and related services (corrective supportive services and therapy).

When you revise that sentence for clarity, it says . . .

A child with a disability needs specially designed instruction and related services, including corrective supportive services and therapy, i.e., tutoring.

The definitions in IDEA support tutoring as an appropriate service for the child to receive FAPE (or for access/equal opportunity under Section 504).

  1. Does anyone know of cases we can refer to that have addressed the issue of outside tutoring being covered under IDEA?

    Alternatively, are there any cases where disabled students who have missed days due to medical treatments are provided outside tutoring to help them catchup.

    • That could be covered by the concept of “compensatory services”. A district, state education agency, hearing officer or judge could rule that the district provide services that were missed.

  2. Would you say this extends into other content areas as well? My son struggles in Social Studies class, but I can’t see how I can request tutoring as a direct service for this class. Is it possible?

    • Elementary level to about 4th or 5th grade – usually accommodations in general education will suffice, but as students who do not read on level get older, more extensive accommodations need to be arranged and possibly be pulled for direct instruction at least a couple days a week. The main purpose will be to be sure the content is introduced and understood. Sometimes the social studies textbook can be used during direct instruction for reading, depending on the individual’s needs. Yes, you can request this direct instruction in this if reading on level is required in order to be successful and other accommodations or modifications will not fill the need. As a former special education teacher, I tried very hard to keep my low readers in both social studies and science because they usually like it more than math and reading and teachers many times will teach in a variety of ways with projects, small groups, more visuals, etc. in these subjects. We have to remember least restrictive environment.

  3. Thanks for explaining that tutoring is more of a direct service than a reasonable accommodation or modification in a student’s IEP plan. It’s great to learn that if tutoring is needed in a basic academic skill like reading that it would be part of an IDEA. My son is in second grade and is having a lot of problems with sight words and spelling, so I will see if we should get him educational tutoring for his IDEA.

  4. I’ve had this discussion under both IDEA and 504. My issues with it is always the vagueness of the word. If a child requires direct instruction to make progress in the general education curriculum, that’s what they should require and should be documented on the IEP as special education service. ‘Tutoring’ can be anyone from an another student to a grad student to a teacher and doesn’t have the same strength of service. I view tutoring as supplemental/extra after services are provided that students can access to improve or enhance.

  5. I am a speech-language pathologist and literacy specialist. I incorporate structured word inquiry into intervention for reading and spelling. I also target grammar and writing. Some public schools have let me see clients during their school day at their school but we are having a problem with another that said I can’t see the child during the IEP minutes of his day. So my question is can I be written into the IEP along with a set of goals schools cannot address? This child does not learn with phonics. he does learn with structured word inquiry. Parents are not asking for the school to pay for services. This child does well during the day while at school but is not open to learning after school.

    • Yes this can be done in my opinion, but convincing them to do this is the problem. The parent offering to put in writing that they will not ask for the school to pay might help.

    • These post are older but Wow, I have that “child”
      After school it’s a no go! He’s failing, now in 11th. I feel like he’s been pushed through. Definitely needs spelling support. These kids need in person help and not just once a week.
      Can the 504/IDEA cover such dedicated sites like Wyzant or such that’s closest to one on one?

      • Rhonda, your state parent training and information project can give you some guidance. If the state education agency or a hearing officer determines that the district did not provide a student with a Free Appropriate Public Education a district can be ordered to provide the student with “compensatory” services to make up for what they did not do. http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center/

  6. Our principal says if we don’t accept reading tutoring through the school, we can’t have an IEP. We’d have to switch to a 504. Is this correct? We currently have our daughter in private reading tutoring. She wants to stay with her tutor instead of going through school. We have a number of concerns regarding the school, and she’s making clear progress with her tutor.

  7. I actually used the IDEA regs written in the article a few years ago for my son, who was struggling in all his 9th grade courses due to his acheivement gap in reading, writing, and math. His WJ Assessment placed him between pre-K and 4th grade in these areas. I requested 1:1 direct instruction for reading, writing, and math – Which the school system denied. I unilaterally placed him in a private online program, filed for due process – also seeking reimbursement for the program. My claim was settled. The school reimbursed me the for the program, AND agreed to provide 1:1 direct instruction for during school day, at school, with a qualified special ed teacher, for one 90 min period every school day. It worked for me, but was difficult and may not work for all parents.

    • Hello, Can you please tell me what online program you privately used? My child needs a program to grow him fast. He has an IEP and a diagnosis of ADHD and dyslexia ( not recognized or supported by district) and SLD in reading.

      He is now 2 years behind in reading at 6th grade because he needs a direct intensive reading program that he is not getting and not “specialized instructional services”, which in our school means being pulled to resource to finish classwork or take a test. Please help! I am filing a complaint to get reimbursed.

  8. Our school was taken to due process regarding a parent’s request for tutoring services at school and the parent lost the case. The student was receiving quality support from the Resource team during school hours. Any additional tutoring needs were deemed the responsibility of the parent(s)/guardians.

  9. Without actually being at school how do I know the actual “tutoring” is occurring with my daughter? In her iep the special Ed teacher is supposed to pull-out or push-in 3 hours every week. My daughter attends a mainstream 5th grade class with an aide.

    • You can ask your daughter, request a periodic summary from the teacher of when this was done, what was done, & your child’s progress. There should be a specific measurable goal addressing the tutoring. So the required progress reports should give you some info. If these things are not happening, you should say this to the district & request an IEP regarding progress.

    • Ask the special ed teacher to provide a schedule of when she/he is pulling out or pushing in. It may vary a bit but there should be a basic schedule that matches the minutes in the child’s IEP. Are you sure it’s “tutoring” or is it specialized instruction? How would tutoring for one student occur in a 5th grade class?

  10. Does a child being in Resource Room for math and language arts count as ‘specially designed instruction ‘ and would therefore make him ineligible for tutoring as well?

    • Yes. But it does not make the child “ineligible” for tutoring. The IEP team is to consider all services that a child needs. In many cases a child in resource is not getting the quality, & quantity of instruction they need to keep up with their peers, especially if they have Dyslexia or a learning disability. It is extremely important that the child have appropriate, & measurable goals, & the parent monitor that appropriate progress is being made.

  11. we are currently paying privately for tutoring twice a week for my daughter who also has an IEP in the public school system. Am I entitled to have them pay/provide for it???

    • You might be depending on your situation, & state rules. But it will probably not be easy to do. How the issue is presented, & what you ask for be important.

  12. Thank you so much. I wanted tutoring services for my child but no one has been able to inform me is that allowed since she she has an IEP. This information will help.

  13. hi, how or where can I become listed as a professional tutor for special needs?
    and where is there a link to do so?
    could you assist me?
    thanks 🙂

    • Good question, Joni. I’ll share the information about Wrightslaw Yellow Pages for Kids with Disabilities with everyone. http://www.yellowpagesforkids.com

      • Do you help parents and caregivers get special education services for children with disabilities?
      • Does your organization provide information and assistance?
      • Do you facilitate a support or study group for parents of children with disabilities?

      If the answer is “Yes!” you may be eligible for a free listing on the Yellow Pages for Kids in your state.

      Please complete the application. http://www.yellowpagesforkids.com/application.htm

      If you have a current listing, use the application to add / change / update any information as needed.

      Paid sponsorships are also available. These ads appear on every page in the Yellow Pages, not just one state page. Find out why you should advertise with us – and how.


  14. How are you defining tutoring? I think that regionally, both parents and professionals define tutoring as something that takes place outside of the typical school day. What you are describing sounds more like what we would call Specially Designed Instruction.

    • I would like to see Erica’s question answered. The definition of tutoring to me is outside the school day, which would not be something an IEP of 504 could legally offer as far as I am aware. Title and Special Education resource room are specifically designed instruction….

    • I have a grandson who has IEP.He has a special ed teacher for math and language arts while in the regular class room. His last grading period he went from a 87 to 70. 69 in failing. Can I request a tutor that the school system will pay for?

      • Carol,

        I am not sure of the age of your grandson. If he is in high school they may even have peer tutoring for him. It usually done by another student who has already taken the class and knows the material. Its worth a shot if you want to look into it.

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