Specially Designed Instruction (SDI) is a legal requirement found in the IDEA.  SDI requires that special education students receive “specially designed instruction” as a part of their educational program.  The general idea is that children with disabilities need unique and customized educational interventions that address their specific deficits.  The definition of SDI is as follows:

(a) General.
(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.
(2) Special education includes each of the following, if the services otherwise meet the requirements of paragraph (a)(1) of this section—
(i) Speech-language pathology services, or any other related service, if the service is considered special education rather than a related service under State standards;
(ii) Travel training; and
(iii) Vocational education.
(b) Individual special education terms defined. The terms in this definition are defined as follows:
(1) At no cost means that all specially-designed instruction is provided without charge, but does not preclude incidental fees that are normally charged to nondisabled students or their parents as a part of the regular education program.
(2) Physical education means—
(i) The development of—
(A) Physical and motor fitness;
(B) Fundamental motor skills and patterns; and
(C) Skills in aquatics, dance, and individual and group games and sports (including intramural and lifetime sports); and
(ii) Includes special physical education, adapted physical education, movement education, and motor development.
(3) Specially designed instruction means 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) To 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.
(4) Travel training means providing instruction, as appropriate, to children with significant cognitive disabilities, and any other children with disabilities who require this instruction, to enable them to—
(i) Develop an awareness of the environment in which they live; and
(ii) Learn the skills necessary to move effectively and safely from place to place within that environment (e.g., in school, in the home, at work, and in the community).
(5) Vocational education means organized educational programs that are directly related to the preparation of individuals for paid or unpaid employment, or to additional preparation for a career not requiring a baccalaureate or advanced degree.

Today, in the context of public education and providing all students with IEPs with SDI, the task can be very difficult.  But fortunately, technology tools have come a long way in the past 10 years and can assist special education teachers by providing them with tools to diagnose individual students’ more efficiently as well as deliver instruction using online tools that target students’ specific gaps.

Related Links…

DORA – Diagnostic Online Reading Assessment to help with IEPs and Progress Monitoring
ADAM – Adaptive Diagnostic Assessment of Mathematics to help with IEPs and Progress Monitoring
LGL Edge – Online instruction in Math and ELA that targets students’ gaps and provides automated SDI for teachers

To learn more about Let’s Go Learn’s special education software tools, click here.