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K3: Understanding of the advocacy and legal issues related to services for students with Other Health Disabilities, including issues pertaining to specialized health care in educational settings.

S1: Demonstrate the ability to accurately collect data for documenting learner outcomes and reports to teacher when a strategy is or is not producing the planned effect.

Picture of a gavel with an American flag in the background.Introduction

In this unit you will learn about approaches to respecting, protecting, and advocating for students and their family members and guardians. The topics covered include:

  • Knowing students’ and families’ rights;
  • Understanding several processes for challenging school decisions about access to, eligibility for, evaluation of, and placement in special education services; and
  • Services offered or denied to students with acute or chronic health conditions.

In addition, you will learn about the importance of accurate data gathering in general and specific data requirements needed to support a student’s or their parent’s/guardian’s request for special education evaluation.

In Lesson 1, you will learn that, in addition to being aware of the federal, state, and local school district special education laws, rules, policies, and practices, you also must know the rights of students with disabilities, including students with acute and chronic health conditions who qualify for special education services under the OHD category and their families in relation to these laws and practices. You will explore why knowing and understanding these laws and policies will help you to ensure that the rights of the students you support and their families are respected and upheld.

You will also explore the four key entry points into the education system and the possible activities in which a paraprofessional might engage to improve rights awareness, dialogue, and action. These key entry points include:

  • Awareness about and access to special education services,
  • Evaluation of testing processes and findings,
  • Determination of eligibility for special education services and processes, and
  • Placement decisions and offering of services and supports.

In Lesson 2, you will review important information about accurate data collection, strong, documented observations, and different measuring approaches that you may have explored in a previous core competency area. You will be reminded that acquiring and using objective observation and solid data-keeping practices are important skills for all paraprofessionals. Much of the information required informs the team whether or not students are gaining new skills or achieving anticipated outcomes and is acquired by careful observation and good documentation. In addition, observation will keep the team informed about whether or not the students are learning and using the functional skills necessary for them to achieve the objectives and long-term goals outlined in their IEPs.

In addition, you will learn about both required and optional evaluation measures that a school team needs to use to support a student’s eligibility for special education services under the OHD category. Having learned these different evaluation approaches and measures, you will be better equipped to explore the measures that best fit with documenting a student’s health condition and linking that information with the eight criteria for determining eligibility.

Unit Objectives

Upon completion of this unit, you will be able to:

  • Identify key legal issues that affect students with OHD;
  • Describe the paraprofessional’s role as an advocate for students with OHD and their families; and
  • Collect accurate data to document student outcomes.


Minnesota Department of Education. (2007). Other Health Disabilities Companion Manual (Draft). St. Paul: Author. Retrieved March 27, 2007, from

Information for this unit was used with permission from:

Institute on Community Integration. (n.d.). Para eLinkCore Competency Area 1: Philosophical, Historical, and Legal Foundations of Education, Unit 1.2, Lessons 1 and 3, and Unit 3.2, Lesson 1. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota. Retrieved June 30, 2006, from,, and


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