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By GreatSchools Staff
The first time your child is evaluated for special education is called an initial evaluation. (You may also hear the term "assessment" to describe an evaluation.) It should be a complete and individualized evaluation using a variety of methods to gather academic, functional, and developmental information about your child.
The school can't just give an IQ test because no single test may be used to identify a disability. All areas of suspected disability must be evaluated.
The standardized tests that will be used must be proven to measure the skills they claim to be testing. The trained and knowledgeable personnel who give the tests need to follow the written instructions in the test manuals. If any nonstandard conditions are involved, such as using an interpreter to communicate with your child, this will be mentioned in the written report.
In addition, the tests and procedures that will be used must:
A member of the multidisciplinary team other than your child's teacher will observe your child's academic performance in his regular class as part of the evaluation.
The purpose of the initial evaluation is to decide if your child is a "child with a disability." In order to do so, he must meet two requirements:
1. Fit the defined criteria for at least one of these disabilities:
2. And, because of the disability, need special education and related services to benefit from the educatonal program.
Following the evaluation, a multidisciplinary team meeting will be held to discuss the results of the evaluation and decide whether or not your child is eligible for special education and related services. At a minimum, the team includes you, your child's teacher, a school administrator, and the staff who did the assessments.
If the team agrees that your child (1) has a specific learning disability and (2) needs special education services in order to benefit from the educational program, then an Individualized Educational Program (IEP) will be developed. An IEP must be developed within 30 days of eligibility determination. Goals in your child's area(s) of need will be written. A discussion of options for placement and services is last. The team must decide where the goals can be implemented in the least restrictive environment. Parents are expected to participate in and contribute to the IEP process.
Your child won't receive any special education services unless you give your consent in writing. Any or all of the IEP with which you agree will go into effect as soon as possible after you sign it.
If you disagree with the proposed IEP, you may exercise your rights of due process. These include participating in mediation and/or an administrative (due process) hearing. For further information, review the legal rights that were sent to you with the evaluation plan, or contact your district's special education administrator.
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