Specially Designed Instruction (2023)

The delivery of specially designed instruction is the core job responsibility of special education teachers. IDEA regulations define “specially designed instruction” as “adapting, as appropriate to the needs of an eligible child under this part, the content, methodology or delivery of instruction (i) to address the unique needs of the child that result from the child’s disability; and (ii) ensure access of the child to the general curriculum, so that the child can meet the educational standards within the jurisdiction of the public agency that apply to all children.” (34 CFR Sec. 300.39(b)(3)

As explained in practical terms by Marilyn Friend, “SDI is what makes special education ‘special.’”

What are some of the features of SDI?

  • It is delivered by a special education teacher or a related services provider.
  • It is planned, organized and meaningful and is delivered in an explicit, intentional and systematic manner.
  • It can be provided in any location, including multiple locations during the course of the school day, as long as the location is consistent with the student’s IEP and the student’s least restrictive environment.
  • It directly addresses the goals in the student’s IEP, which, in turn, are “sufficiently ambitious” and designed to enable the student to achieve grade-level content standards or close the learning gap.
  • It is specific instruction that is delivered to the student, not differentiated instruction, accommodations, active learning strategies or other activities designed to facilitate learning for all students.
  • It is closely monitored to ensure that the intended results, i.e., a reduction in the learning gap, are being achieved.
  • It can address any area of individual need including academic, behavioral, social, communication, health and functional.
  • It does not involve lowering standards or expectations for the student.

What differentiates “specially designed instruction” from core instruction and supplemental and intensive interventions (response to intervention or multi-tiered system of support)?

As illustrated in this chart, specially designed instruction is similar to, different from and inter-related with core instruction and tier two and three interventions in a number of ways.

(Video) What is specially designed instruction in special education?

Generally, specially designed instruction differs from core instruction and interventions in the following ways:

  • Specially designed instruction is defined and guaranteed by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and implemented in accordance with an individualized education program (IEP);
  • SDI teaches specific skills a student does not have but needs to access and progress in the general education curriculum;
  • SDI is individualized, i.e., it is specific to the student;
  • SDI must be delivered by a qualified special education teacher or related service provider;
  • Students who receive SDI need sustained intensive support in order to maintain adequate rates of progress;
  • Students who receive SDI may also receive instructional and testing accommodations;
  • It is delivered in the student’s LRE, which may be a location other than the general education classroom.

Specially designed instruction is similar to core instruction and interventions in these ways:

  • It is aligned with the standards and instructional expectations for all students;
  • It may be delivered in the general education classroom;
  • It may be implemented together with general education strategies such as differentiation, universal design for learning, school-wide positive behavior supports;
  • Assessment practices used in general education classrooms such as formative assessment, screening, and progress monitoring are used.

What are some examples of specially designed instruction in various domains?

The range of instructional activities that can be considered SDI is limited only by the presenting learning, behavioral, social, physical, health and other needs of students with IEPs. That being said, we present a number of examples to show how SDI differs from regular classroom instruction.

For reading, specialized instruction might be delivering a specialized reading program such as Phonics Boost or Blast, Wilson Reading, S.P.I.R.E. or another Orton Gilliam based approach. Or it might involve implementation of Data Based Individualization, a research-based process for individualizing and intensifying interventions through the systematic use of assessment data, validated interventions and research-based adaptation strategies. DBI is not limited to reading. It a process that can be used to support students with severe and persistent learning and/or behavioral needs.

(Video) Specially Designed Instruction

A guidance document developed by the SDI Workgroup through the NYSED Regional Special Education Technical Assistance Support Center (RSE-TASC) explains specially designed instruction and walks special educators through the process of selecting specially designed instruction, i.e., what the teacher teaches, and supplementary aids and services, i.e., what the student needs, in the most common areas of instructional need. Topics covered include: nonverbal communication, listening comprehension, expressive language/oral expression, voice, fluency, receptive language, pragmatics, basic reading, reading comprehension, written language, math calculation and reasoning, task completion/on-task behavior, following directions, rate/speed of work, following a schedule, attendance, organization, working independently, decision-making, self-evaluation, social competence, and physical functioning.

Learning strategies are one type of specialized instruction that has been shown to be effective for learners with disabilities. Learning strategies are the principles, procedures or rules for solving problems and independently completing tasks. (Friend & Bursuck, 2012)

One particularly effective and simple learning strategy for teaching concepts, vocabulary or procedures that must be memorized is cover-copy-compare (CCC). As described by Riccomini, Stocker and Morano, implementation of CCC to teach computational fluency in mathematics would include creating a set of flash cards for a particular operation; using the flash cards to assess the student’s fluency; developing flash card subsets for fluent, known and unknown facts; teaching the student to use the cover-copy-compare strategy; providing opportunities for practice with corrective feedback; monitoring the student’s progress; and adapting the flash card subsets based on the student’s progress. (Implementing and Effective Mathematics Fact Fluency Practice Activity in Teaching Exceptional Children, May/June 2017, Volume 49, Issue 5, pages 318-327]

Many effective strategies are also available to teach expected behaviors. Specially designed instruction for students who have difficulty expressing their feelings, including students with autism, may include teaching students to use comic strip generators, such as Make Beliefs Comix. Visual supports, such as WAIT Cards, have been used successfully for students who have difficulty with impulse control. The Power Card Strategy can be effective in teaching behavioral expectations, routines, the meaning of language, cause and effect and other social skills to higher functioning students with autism. Consisting of a brief scenario or character sketch describing how a hero solves and problem and a “power card” describing how the student can use the same strategy to solve a similar problem, it can also be fun and engaging for both the teacher and the student. The Incredible Five Point Scale (Buron & Curtis) is a tool to help students understand and regulate their anxiety related behaviors. Instruction in organizing, planning, self-monitoring and self-advocacy are yet other examples of specially designed instruction.

Other examples of widely used evidence-based learning strategies include:

(Video) Specially Designed Instruction for an Inclusive Setting

STOP (Boyle & Walker Seibert, 1997) for phonemic awareness, phonics or decoding;
DRAW (C.A. Harris, Miller, & Mercer, 1995) for math calculations;
SCROL (Grant, 1993) and POSSE (Englert, 2009) for reading comprehension;
CAP (Mercer, Jordan & Miller, 1996) for algebra problem solving;
TASSEL (Minskoff & Allsopp, 2003) for on-task behavior during class;
WATCH (Reid & Lienemann, 2006) for study skills;
SPLASH (Simmonds, Luchow, Kaminsky, & Cottone, 1989) for test taking

For students who are blind or visually impaired, specially designed instruction could include instruction in the use of Braille or specific technology to access content or provide responses and orientation and mobility training. For students who are deaf or hearing impaired, it could consist of a) oral methods—the use of hearing Assistive technology (AT), such as cochlear implants and hearing aids, along with training to learn to use residual hearing and speech read; (b) manual methods — the use of ASL, a visual-gestural language that has its own grammar and syntax; and (c) simultaneous communication methods — signs are produced in the same order as spoken words and at the same time as the words are spoken. For students with health conditions such as diabetes or severe allergies, instruction regarding the signs and symptoms of their condition and when and how to use medication and seek help in the event of an impending health emergency would be considered specialized instruction.

Stare at the unknown word
Tell yourself each letter sound
Open your mouth, say letter sounds
Put letters together to say word

Discover the sign
Read the problem
Answer the problem or draw
Write the answer

(Video) What is specially designed instruction?

Survey the headings
Connect the headings to one another
Read the text
Outline major ideas with supporting details
Look back to check the accuracy of what’s written

Predict ideas
Organize the ideas
Search for the structure
Summarize the main ideas
Evaluate your understanding

Combine like terms
Ask yourself, “How can I isolate the variable?”
Put the values of the variable in the initial equation and check to see if the equation is balanced

Try not to doodle
Arrive at class prepared
Sit near the front
Sit away from friends
End daydreaming
Look at the teacher

Write down assignment and due date
Ask for clarification or help
Task analyze the assignment, schedule tasks over available days
Check all work for neatness, completeness and accuracy

(Video) Specially Designed Instruction

Skim the test
Plan your strategy
Leave out tough questions
Attack questions you know
Systematically guess
House clean

Research and best practices

Read more research and best practices »


What is the difference between specially designed instruction and differentiated instruction? ›

The Difference Between SDI and Differentiation

Differentiation is used to give all students a chance to demonstrate learning in ways that work best for them. Differentiation is a method of teaching used with all students whereas SDI is a method of teaching used to address individual goals and needs.

What are some examples of differentiated instruction? ›

Using spelling or vocabulary lists at readiness levels of students; Presenting ideas through both auditory and visual means; Using reading buddies; and. Meeting with small groups to re-teach an idea or skill for struggling learners, or to extend the thinking or skills of advanced learners.

What is methodology in SDI? ›

Methodology. The methodology aspect of SDI means that different instructional techniques and strategies will be used to teach the students based on their IEP. For example, the Orton-Gillingham approach is used to help students who struggle to learn to read and write.

What is specially designed instruction Ohio? ›

Specially Designed Instruction (SDI)

Specially designed instruction should address what the specialized needs are for the student's learning in a traditional (face-to-face) environment, blended learning environment or online learning environment.

What is the goal of specially designed instruction? ›

Specially designed instruction is designed to ensure access to the general curriculum through modifications so that the student can meet the same academic standards as his/her nondisabled peers and to ensure progress toward meeting IEP goals and objectives.

What are specially designed instruction and high leverage practices? ›

HLPs are “a set of practices that are fundamental to support K–12 student learning, and that can be taught, learned, and implemented by those entering the profession” (Windschitl, Thompson, Braaten, & Stroupe, 2012).

What are the 5 elements of differentiated instruction? ›

  • Differentiated instruction is based on modification of four elements: content, process,
  • product, and affect/learning environment. This modification is guided by the.
  • teacher‟s understanding of student needs—the students‟ readiness, interests, and.
  • learning profile.

What are the 5 instructional strategies? ›

Consider the five categories of instructional strategies (direct, indirect, experiential, independent and interactive).

How do teachers differentiate instruction? ›

Differentiated instruction is evident when teachers:
  1. Offer students options to choose from in assignments or lesson plans.
  2. Provide multiple texts and types of learning materials.
  3. Utilize a variety of personalized learning methods and student assessments.
  4. Customize teaching to suit multiple forms of intelligence.

What is an SDI assessment? ›

The SDI is a self-scoring motivational assessment tool that provides an understanding of what drives you and what drives others. It is used in corporate settings for team building, conflict management, leadership development, communication enhancement.

What is a SDI teacher? ›

• SDI is what a teacher does to deliver information to the student that is different from what other students received. It may be instruction that is additional to what other students received and/or different methods or techniques to present the instruction not used with other students.

What is the SDI questionnaire? ›

The Strength Deployment Inventory 2.0 (SDI 2.0) is an assessment of human motives and strengths. It stands on the foundation of practical application, scholarship, and research that began with Elias Porter's introduction of the SDI in 1971 and publication of Relationship Awareness Theory (Porter, 1976).

What qualifies a child for an IEP? ›

Students who are eligible for special education services need an IEP. While there are many reasons that students could be eligible, some common conditions include: attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) autism. cognitive challenges.

What qualifies for IEP in Ohio? ›

A child may qualify if he/she has a disability, such as hearing loss, and needs special education services. What is an Evaluation Team Report (ETR)? In order for your child to get an IEP, he/she must be evaluated by a team from his/her school district.

How long can students with disabilities stay in school in Ohio? ›

Students with disabilities are entitled to attend school until they graduate or turn 22. When a student with disabilities turns 18, the rights as a student with disabilities transfer to the student. This includes the right to transition planning and services.

What types of assessments are used for special education? ›

8 Special Education Assessments
  • Developmental Assessments. ...
  • Screening Tests. ...
  • Intelligence Quotient (IQ) Tests. ...
  • Academic Achievement Tests. ...
  • Adaptive Behavior Scales. ...
  • Behavior Rating Scales. ...
  • Curriculum-Based Assessment. ...
  • End-of-Grade Alternate Assessments.

What are specially designed instruction for students with SLD and dyslexia? ›

Structured Literacy instruction prepares students to decode words in an explicit and systematic manner. This approach not only helps students with SLD/Dyslexia, but there is substantial evidence that it is more effective for all readers.

What is instruction special education? ›

(1) Special education means specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability, including— (i) Instruction conducted in the classroom, in the home, in hospitals and institutions, and in other settings; and. (ii) Instruction in physical education.

What are the 5 big ideas in special education? ›

Big Ideas in Special Education: Specially Designed Instruction, High-Leverage Practices, Explicit Instruction, and Intensive Instruction
  • Home.
  • Big Ideas in Special Education: Specially Designed Instruction, High-Leverage Practices, Explicit Instruction, and Intensive Instruction.
19 Sept 2017

What are examples of high leverage practices? ›

High Leverage Practices
  • Explaining core content. ...
  • Posing questions about content. ...
  • Choosing and using representations, examples, and models of content. ...
  • Leading whole class discussions of content. ...
  • Working with individual students to elicit, probe, and develop their thinking about content.

What are high level practices in special education? ›

The HLPs are organized around four aspects of practice—collaboration, assess ment, social/emotional/behavioral practices, and instruction—because special education teachers enact practices in these areas in integrated and reciprocal ways.

What are the 3 elements of differentiated instruction? ›

As teachers begin to differentiate instruction, there are three main instructional elements that they can adjust to meet the needs of their learners: Content—the knowledge and skills students need to master. Process—the activities students use to master the content. Product—the method students use to demonstrate ...

What are the three main elements of instruction? ›

The elements serve as principles upon which instructional decisions are based regarding: 1) what to teach – the content; 2) how the students will learn and then demonstrate what they've learned; and 3) what teacher actions will be needed to accomplish 1 and 2.

What is the best teaching strategy? ›

Feedback process and understanding

The single most impactful teaching strategy when used correctly, feedback (whether from the teacher or another source e.g. peer marking) needs to be specific, encouraging and actionable – pupils need to be able to understand where they could improve, and how.

What are the 7 cores of teaching strategy? ›

7 Effective Teaching Strategies For The Classroom
  • Visualization.
  • Cooperative learning.
  • Inquiry-based instruction.
  • Differentiation applied to teaching strategies.
  • Technology in the classroom for teaching strategies.
  • Behaviour management.
  • Professional development for teaching strategies.
23 Feb 2018

What are the 4 types of learners? ›

Perhaps the most simple way of describing 'learning styles' is to say that they are different methods of learning or understanding new information, the way a person takes in, understand, expresses and remembers information. There are 4 predominant learning styles: Visual, Auditory, Read/Write, and Kinaesthetic.

Why is it important to use differentiated instruction in the classroom? ›

Differentiated instruction allows us to give students the support they need instead of lumping them together in one big group. Smaller groups make it easier to see who has mastered the lesson goals and has acquired the skills to move on. Larger class sizes make it more difficult to zero in on individual student needs.

What are instructional strategies? ›

Instructional strategies are techniques teachers use to help students become independent, strategic learners. These strategies become learning strategies when students independently select the appropriate ones and use them effectively to accomplish tasks or meet goals.

How long does SDI assessment take? ›

You can expect this process to take up to 14 days.

How much is an SDI assessment? ›

The $25 SDI 2.0 Assessment Test Drive is for professional evaluation use only.

What does SDI stand for core strengths? ›

The SDI 2.0 (Strength Deployment Inventory) is a strengths assessment about you and how you relate to others. It measures your core motives, how you experience conflict, your strengths, and how strengths can be overdone, limiting interpersonal effectiveness.

What does SDI mean in schools? ›

In practical terms, specially designed instruction (SDI) is instruction that is tailored to a particular student. It addresses their Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals; accounts for their disability; provides modifications or adaptations to content; and encourages access to the general education curriculum.

How do you teach EBD students? ›

Here are five effective strategies you can use to help EBD kids work well in an inclusive classroom.
  1. Keep class rules/activities simple and clear. ...
  2. Reward positive behaviors. ...
  3. Allow for mini-breaks. ...
  4. Fair treatment for all. ...
  5. Use motivational strategies.
30 May 2018

How does UDL address the needs of all students? ›

By facilitating the design and implementation of a flexible, responsive curriculum, UDL offers options for how information is presented, how students respond or demonstrate their knowledge and skills, and how students are engaged in learning.

What is a special dwelling institution? ›

A special dwelling is one which is not privately occupied by a household. It is usually an institution such as a prison, hotel, hostel, home for the aged, etc.

What is the main aim of the Strength Deployment Inventory? ›

Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI)®

What is the aim of SDI® The main aim of SDI® is to provide a proven, memorable tool for improving communication and reducing the costs of conflict. It is a learning model for effectively and accurately understanding the motive behind behaviour.

Who created the Strength Deployment Inventory? ›

The theme for this 2+1-day training is on rewarding relationships and Strength Deployment Inventory®. Dr Elias Porter originally created the concept in the 1960s.

What are the 7 main types of learning disabilities? ›

In particular, psychology professionals should study these seven learning disabilities:
  • Dyslexia. ...
  • Dysgraphia. ...
  • Dyscalculia. ...
  • Auditory processing disorder. ...
  • Language processing disorder. ...
  • Nonverbal learning disabilities. ...
  • Visual perceptual/visual motor deficit.

What are the 7 steps of the IEP process? ›

Below are the following steps to an IEP.
  • Child is identified as possibly needing special education and related services. ...
  • Child is evaluated. ...
  • Eligibility is decided. ...
  • Child is found eligible for services. ...
  • IEP meeting is scheduled. ...
  • IEP meeting is held and the IEP is written. ...
  • Services are provided.

How long is the IEP process? ›

The IEP, once created, should be started as soon as possible but no later than 30 calendar days after it was determined that the child qualified for special education services. A copy of the IEP needs to be sent to the parent within 21 school days of when the IEP was developed.

Can a school exclude a child with special needs? ›

Exclusion of children with special educational needs (SEN) or a disability. The head can exclude any pupil, even if they have SEN or a disability. However, if disruptive behaviour is related to a child's SEN or disability, the school should first take action to identify and address the underlying cause of the behaviour ...

Who should write an IEP? ›

The special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) and your child's teacher(s) are responsible for preparing the IEP. The SENCO should make sure that all staff working with your child are aware of their IEP and that there is good communication between those supporting them.

How does Ohio fund special education? ›

The funding consist of two portions: the un‐equalized per‐pupil amount is $4,000 times the total count of preschool children regardless of their handicapping condition, and the special education portion that is equalized by the student's districts state share percentage.

What is specially designed instruction Ohio? ›

Specially Designed Instruction (SDI)

Specially designed instruction should address what the specialized needs are for the student's learning in a traditional (face-to-face) environment, blended learning environment or online learning environment.

What is Ohio's special education law? ›

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) provides the legal grounds for children with disabilities to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE). These services are administered by the school district where the child lives.

What are specially designed instruction for students with SLD and dyslexia? ›

Structured Literacy instruction prepares students to decode words in an explicit and systematic manner. This approach not only helps students with SLD/Dyslexia, but there is substantial evidence that it is more effective for all readers.

Is UDL a specially designed instruction? ›

UDL is proactive and provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that take into account the natural variability of learners. The goal of UDL is to eliminate unnecessary barriers to learning in order to increase student achievement.

What is SDI in math? ›

Specially Designed Instruction (SDI): Mathematics

Specially designed instruction should be implemented in addition to, not in place of, differentiated instruction.

What is the two by ten strategy? ›

At its core, the 2x10 strategy is about consistently building relationships with students. Educators (or school leaders) select a particular student and set a goal to engage in a 2-minute conversation with that student for 10 consecutive school days.

What are the 3 types of learning disabilities? ›

Underneath the learning disability umbrella, many disabilities are categorized as one of three types: dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia.

What disabilities fall under SLD? ›

Specific learning disability categories include dyslexia, executive function disorder, perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, and developmental aphasia.

What type of instruction is best for students with dyslexia? ›

Multisensory Instruction

Pupils with dyslexia learn most effectively when information comes in through many sensory channels simultaneously. This is often referred to as multisensory instruction.

What are the four components of UDL? ›

Four highly interrelated components comprise a UDL curriculum: goals, methods, materials, and assessments.

What is UDL in special education? ›

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a research-based set of principles to guide the design of learning environments that are accessible and effective for all people based on scientific insights into how humans learn.

Which approach to mathematics instruction is most efficient for students with learning disabilities? ›

Explicit instruction often is described as the cornerstone of effective mathematics instruction for students with learning difficulties (Hudson et al., 2006; Jitendra et al., 2018; Witzel et al., 2003).

Why would teachers use the 2/10 strategy? ›

The “two by ten” strategy provides teacher with a specific and consistent way to build relationships with students who are struggling with their classroom behavior.

How do teachers build relationships with students? ›

One of the strongest ways teachers can connect with students is by making them feel valued and respected. When students feel their teachers care about them, want what's best for them, and have confidence in their abilities, this can be powerful enough to move mountains.

What is a two minute connection? ›

Two Minute Connection (Elementary) - YouTube


1. Specially Designed Instruction - An Explanation for Parents!
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2. Specially Designed Instruction- A integral part of "What Special Education looks like today"
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4. 2 questions I ask every day (about specially designed instruction)
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5. Specially Designed Instruction Starts in Tier 1: WHAAAAAT???
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