Referral and Evaluation
- Highly mobile students with disabilities (such as migrant and homeless students)
- Students who have been suspended or expelled from school
- Students who have not graduated from high school with a regular high school diploma
- Students who are suspected of being a student with a disability and who are in need of special education and related services, even though they are advancing from grade to grade
- Home school students within the LEA’s boundaries
Referral/Request for Evaluation
- A complete assessment by a multi-disciplinary team; or
- A decision to not proceed with the evaluation.
REFERRAL AND INITIAL EVALUATION REQUESTS ~ TIPS FOR PARENTS
- Ask for the evaluation in writing. Keep a copy of your request.
- Explain your child’s problems and why you think an evaluation is needed.
- Be sure to share important information about your child’s performance and your concerns with the school staff.
- You must give written, informed consent before an evaluation can be obtained.
- If you have other assessment information and/or evaluation reports from other sources, consider sharing that information.
- If you disagree with a decision not to proceed with the evaluation, follow the chain of command and discuss your concerns. You also could consider using any of the dispute resolution resources including requesting a due process hearing. See chapter 11 for more information on dispute resolution options.
- Interviews (parent, child or teacher)
- Classroom work samples
- Educational testing and psychological testing
- Observations (classroom, playground at lunch and recess)
- Reports from outside experts (medical, psychological etc.)
Response to Intervention (RTI or “Tier Model of Instruction”)
- What data did the school use to make decisions about classroom interventions?
- What types of interventions were used or tried?
- Is the teacher trained in these interventions, and is he or she a highly qualified teacher?
- Does the principal provide professional development in these areas?
- What assessments were used? (Visit www.schools.utah.gov and click on the special education link to learn more about assessment.)
- Was there consistent fidelity in the use of the program and intervention? (Was the program done in a way true to the way it was designed to be used?)
- What types of screening methods are used to determine progress?
- Was my child screened and what screening program was used?
- Does the teacher understand and use a tier model of instruction?
PURPOSE OF AN INITIAL EVALUATION (300.301)
The purpose of an initial evaluation is to determine:
- if a child (1)has a disability and (2)needs special education and related services; and
- the educational needs of the child.
The initial evaluation must be completed within 45 school days of receiving parental consent for the evaluation.
- Written prior notice must be provided to the parent and written consent for testing must be obtained.
- Tests and evaluation materials must not discriminate against the child based on race or culture.
- Test and evaluation materials must be given in the child’s native language or way of communication and in the form most likely to yield accurate information on what the student knows and can do academically, developmentally, and functionally, unless it is clearly not feasible to do so.
- A variety of assessment tools and strategies must be used to gather relevant functional, developmental, and academic information about the student including information provided by the parent.
- No single procedure may be the only criteria. (More than one procedure must be used.)
- The child must be assessed in all areas related to suspected disability including if appropriate health, vision, hearing, social and emotional status, general intelligence, academic performance, communicative status, and motor abilities.
- Any change from standard evaluation conditions must be included in the evaluation report.
- Test and evaluation materials must measure more than just I.Q. The evaluation should clearly measure ability or achievement, not just show the child’s impaired skills.
- School districts must use technically sound evaluation instruments that may assess the relative contribution of cognitive and behavioral factors, in addition to physical or developmental factors. This means the test or evaluation material and procedures must be valid and reliable. (A test is valid if it measures what it’s supposed to measure. A test is reliable if the results are consistent and repeatable).
- Any standardized test must be given by trained and knowledgeable personnel according to the test instructions. The test must be valid for the specific purpose it is used.
- Assessments and other evaluation materials must include those tailored to assess specific areas of educational need and not merely those that are designed to provide a single general intelligence quotient.
- Assessments for students with impaired sensory, manual or speaking skills must be selected and administered so as to make sure that the assessment results accurately reflect the student’s aptitude or achievement level (or whatever other factors the test says it measures). Make sure the test is not just showing the student’s impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills, unless those skills are the factors that the test says it measures.
- Assessments of students who transfer from one LEA (school district or charter school) to another in the same school year are coordinated with the prior and new schools.
- The evaluation must be sufficiently comprehensive to identify all of the student’s special education and related services needs, whether or not the needs are commonly linked to the disability category in which the student has been classified.
- Assessment tools and strategies must provide relevant information that directly assists persons in determining that the educational needs of the student are provided.
- If the student meets the eligibility criteria for special education, an IEP must be developed by the IEP team within 30 calendar days.
Understanding the Evaluation
- What is this test measuring?
- What is ‘average’ or ‘the norm’ on this test?
- Where is my child in comparison to the norm? Overall? In the sub-tests?
- What can my child do and not do? What does that mean in terms of how my child learns and teaching my child?
- Did the evaluation assess all areas of educational needs?
- If the child continues to have a disability, and the educational needs of the student
- The present levels of academic achievement and related developmental needs of the student
- Whether the student continues to need special education and related services
- Whether any additions or modifications to the special education and related services are needed to enable the student to meet the measurable annual goals set out in the IEP of the student in order to help the student participate, as appropriate, in the general education curriculum. (300.303)
There are additional rules regarding reevaluation in specific situations. These rules can be found in the Utah Special Education Rules available at www.schools.utah.gov
Requesting an Independent Educational Evaluation
When You Disagree with the School District’s Evaluation
When requesting an independent educational evaluation at the school district’s expense, parents should:
- Make the request in writing to the principal with a copy to the school district or charter school’s Director of Special Education.
- Keep a copy for their records.
- Include in the letter:
- who the evaluation is for;
- the reason for the evaluation;
- the plan for obtaining the independent evaluation; and
- the understanding that the evaluation is at public expense.
Independent Educational Evaluations Paid By the Parent
- The results must be considered in the evaluation process and in planning the IEP if the independent evaluation meets the standards of the school district.
- The independent educational evaluation may be presented by any party at a due process hearing.
Tips for Parents
Tips for Parents When Requesting and Independent Evaluation:
- Make your request in writing.
- Keep the letter brief and to the point.
- Be sure to keep a copy for your records.