Special Education Eligibility

Rules for eligibility criteria can be found in Wisconsin Administrative Code, Section PI 11.36. This covers the areas of autism, intellectual disabilities, emotional behavioral disabilities, hearing impairments, orthopedic impairment, other health impairment, significant developmental delay, speech/language impairments, specific learning disabilities, traumatic brain injury, visual impairments, and the need for special education.

Eligibility Worksheets

DPI program consultants have developed eligibility criteria checklists for each disability areas. When school districts use the eligibility criteria worksheets, the IEP team documentation of eligibility criteria more likely adequately addresses all of the required elements and results in fewer cases of inappropriate identification. Use of the eligibility checklists will also increase Wisconsin's performance when measured against Indicator #10 of the State Performance Plan related to the disproportionate representation of racial and ethnic groups in specific disability categories.

Checklists are available in the following disability areas. MS Word and Spanish versions are form-fillable.

Autism PDF Word Spanish Orthopedic Impairment Word
Intellectual Disabilities PDF Word Spanish Coming Soon Other Health Impaired PDF Word Spanish
Hearing Impairments PDF Word Spanish Speech/Language Impairments PDF Word Spanish
Visual Impairments PDF Word Spanish Significant Developmental Delay PDF Word Spanish
Emotional Behavioral Disabilities PDF Word Spanish Traumatic Brain Injury PDF Word Spanish

If a student is determined to meet eligibility criteria in one or more of the impairment areas, the IEP team must then consider whether the student needs special education. A worksheet to assist IEP teams in addressing the "Need for Special Education" is part of model form ER-1, Evaluation Report.

Eligibility Evaluation Guides and Resources

Department staff conducted workshops and developed evaluation guides to assist districts in implementing the eligibility criteria. These guides and other resource materials are available on the individual disability wepages:


Eligibility Criteria Study, PI 11.37


The Department of Public Instruction was required to conduct a study of the effect of the modification of special education eligibility criteria (PI 11.37). A contract to conduct research was awarded to the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh as of January 1, 2002. A preliminary report to the Assembly and Senate education committees was made on June 30, 2003, and the final report submitted June 20, 2005.


For questions about this information, contact dpisped@dpi.wi.gov (608) 266-1781