Specially Designed Instruction: What it means for my student


Central Rivers Area Education Agency (CRAEA) is working in collaboration with the Iowa Department of Education to improve our special education outcomes for students. One part of this work is an approach called “Specially Designed Instruction” or SDI which means adapting the content, methodology, or delivery of instruction (as appropriate) to the needs of a student.

As a parent, finding yourself on a team planning for the Specially Designed Instruction of your child can be overwhelming and emotional. The first thing to remember is that you are a vital part of the team and your engagement in the problem-solving process will have a positive impact on student success.

Students and families become part of the problem-solving team that works together to make decisions about and plan for learning opportunities based on a student’s unique needs. Students can expect to be engaged in general education instruction with the support they need for success as often as possible. In addition, students will be offered Specially Designed Instruction opportunities that are created by families and educators with the unique needs of the student in mind. They can expect team members to work together to diagnose specific learning skill needs, strengths, and preferences which will focus on how best to engage them in learning throughout the day. This will include interviews and observations along with assessments.

Depending on their age, students will also be included in designing a plan to provide instruction aligned to their needs and grade level skills while ensuring access to general education and opportunities to participate fully. Progress will be monitored and adjustments will be made as needed and can happen anytime the team agrees on a new approach or strategy.

If you are a parent with questions or concerns about Special Education services, please contact Central Rivers Area Education Agency at 1-800-542-8375. We are here to help!

Lake, Lorelei Staff ID# 101042Lorelei Lake is a Special Education Consultant for Central Rivers Area Education Agency (CRAEA) and serves as the SDI Lead on the leadership team working to improve student outcomes throughout the agency. She can be reached at llake@centralriversaea.org. CRAEA supports educators, parents, and the communities we serve as we work together toward one ultimate goal: to improve student learning. We provide support in the areas of quality classroom materials, curriculum planning, best practices in teaching and learning, safe and caring learning environment, appropriate educational opportunities for all learners, technology planning, professional learning, assessment, special education, leadership development, and more to 18 counties in Iowa. Learn more at www.centralriversaea.org.