Evaluations & Reevaluations

Schools have up to sixty days to complete an initial evaluation and decide if a child needs special education.
Evaluation picture

If no additional tests are needed,
the evaluation time may be shorter.
If there is enough information available early in the process to meet eligibility requirements, the time line may be shorter. Should the whole process take longer than 60 days due to exceptional reasons, the school must inform you in writing of the expected date of completion and the reason for the delay.

The evaluation will cover all areas
of academics and behavior where
your child is not making good progress.
A comprehensive evaluation is the process of collecting information about a student’s learning needs, strengths and interests. A complete evaluation will cover all areas related to your child’s learning or behavior that may get in the way of his or her learning or the learning of others. This may include looking at your child’s health, vision, hearing, social and emotional well-being, general intelligence, academic performance, communication skills and motor skills. The evaluation should also look for your child’s strengths – special interests, talents and abilities that can contribute to her or his education success.

Assessment is one part of the evaluation process.
Assessment means the specific tests, instruments, tools, strategies and other materials used, while evaluation refers to the process of determining whether a student has a disability and the nature and extent of the special education and related services needed. A variety of assessment tools and strategies should be used to gather functional, developmental and academic information about your child, including information from you.

These tests and tools must be given in the language and form most likely to give the most accurate information about what your child knows and can do academically, developmentally and functionally. They should be given by people who are trained and knowledgeable about how to administer the test. The tests must be fair and not discriminate on the basis of race or culture. If your child has impaired sensory, manual or speaking skills, tests must be selected and given to accurately reflect his or her natural ability or achievement level.

The evaluation of students for learning disabilities requires
looking at actual and expected performance.
For students who are suspected of having a specific learning disability, the evaluators will look for evidence that the student is not performing at grade-level standards and demonstrates a severe discrepancy between actual achievement and what they are expected to be able to achieve based on their intellectual ability or exhibits a pattern of strengths and weaknesses in performance and/or achievement relative to other students in their age groups.

Screening is not the same as evaluation.
The screening of a student by a teacher or specialist to determine the best teaching strategy for the student is not considered to be an evaluation for eligibility for special education. Parents are not required to be notified when screening occurs.

The results of the evaluation must
be given to you upon request.
The school will prepare an Evaluation Summary Report with key findings from the evaluation. You should request a copy prior to the eligibility meeting in order to be prepared to discuss the evaluation results. It is the school’s responsibility to explain what these results mean. If you don’t understand something in the evaluation summary, ask questions. And if the results don’t seem to match your understanding of your child’s abilities and needs, share your special insights with team members.

You have the right to an independent education evaluation.
Should you disagree with the results of the evaluation, you may request an independent educational evaluation (IEE). An IEE is an evaluation conducted by a qualified examiner who is not employed by the Department of Education. Your child’s school can provide you with information about where you can obtain an IEE. Parents can either pay for the IEE out of their own pocket or request an evaluation at public expense (this means the school pays for it).

If you obtain an evaluation on your own, the school must consider the results.
If you obtain the IEE at your own expense, the results of the evaluation must be considered by the school in any decision relating to the provision of FAPE to y0our child. These results may also be presented as evidence in a due process hearing regarding your child.

Some requests for a no-cost independent evaluation lead to a due process hearing decision.
Parents are entitled to only one IEE at public expense each time the school conducts an evaluation of your child with which you disagree. After a parent makes a request for an independent evaluation at public expense, the school must either pay for an IEE or initiate a due process hearing to defend the appropriateness of its own evaluation. Should the decision of the hearing officer be that the school’s evaluation is appropriate, you still have the right to an IEE, but not at public expense.

RE-EVALUATION

Re-evaluations take place at least every three years.
Once your child receives special education services, a re-evaluation is conducted once every three years. The re-evaluation can take place sooner for the following reasons:

  • The student’s educational or related service needs have changed (either through improved academics and functional performance or because the student is not progressing and more information is needed to change his or her program);
  • A change in eligibility is being considered (for example, from the eligibility category of developmental delay to specific learning disabilities;
  • The student’s teacher or you, the parent, requests a re-evaluation.

Additional testing is not always necessary.
After looking at the existing information, you and the members of the IEP team may agree that no additional information is needed to design an appropriate program for your child and that your child’s eligibility is not likely to change. In that case, a re-evaluation is not required.

A re-evaluation is needed before a student loses special education services.
If a student progresses to the point that it seems he or she no longer needs special education services, a team of qualified professional and the parent must re-evaluate the student to determine that he or she is no longer a “student with a disability” under Chapter 60 and IDEA before services and supports are terminated. However, a re-evaluation is not required, if the student has graduated with a regular diploma or is beyond the age of eligibility for special education.

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