Specially Designed Instruction

What is Specially Designed Instruction (SDI)?

Specially designed instruction (SDI) means adapting, as appropriate, to the needs of an eligible child under this part, the content, methodology, or delivery of instruction to address the unique needs of a child that results from the child’s disability; and to ensure access of the child to the general curriculum, so that he or she can meet the educational standards adopted by the State .

SDI is also known as special instruction, individualization or differentiated instruction. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the federal law governing special education programs, every student’s individualized education plan (IEP) must include several elements about how these students will achieve academic goals. Among these elements is a description of specially designed instruction.

SDI refers to the teaching strategies and methods used by teachers to instruct students with learning disabilities and other processing deficits. To develop specially designed instruction for each student with a learning disability, educators and parents work together to analyze student work, evaluation information, and any other available data to determine the student’s strengths and weaknesses.  Based on that student’s unique learning needs, strategies are developed. Teachers continue to measure students’ progress and make changes in instruction as needed.

Specially designed instruction means organized and planned instructional activities typically provided by an appropriately qualified special education professional that modify, as appropriate the content, methodology, or delivery of instruction. What makes instruction truly individualized and specially designed for a student with a disability and different from what a general education student receives is how the instruction is linked to the student’s IEP goals and objectives. SDI is planned, organized and meaningful in that it is an intentional and systematic process that specifically addresses the student’s needs as expressed in the IEP goals and objectives.