The evaluation team gathers the information that will be used to determine if your child needs special education and, if so, the types of programs and services needed. Your child may be evaluated by a school psychologist. Other evaluations may include tests by a hearing specialist for a child with a hearing problem, or an evaluation from a doctor for a child with a health concern. The evaluation must also include input from a certified professional if certain services, called “related services,” may be needed. An example is speech therapy (for speech and language) or occupational therapy (for fine motor and other skills).
A child may be referred for the first (or initial) evaluation in different ways:
You may ask your school to evaluate your child for special education at any time. This can be done by sending a letter to the principal of your child’s school or by asking a school professional employee. It is recommended that you keep a record of your written or verbal request. A Permission to Evaluate– Evaluation Request form should be sent to you within 10 calendar days after the receipt of your request.
The school may contact you to request permission to have your child evaluated. You must consent in writing to your child’s evaluation. School officials cannot proceed without your written permission. If permission is not received and the school continues to find that an evaluation is necessary, they may ask for a due process hearing to get approval from an impartial hearing officer to evaluate your child.
To give permission for the evaluation process to begin, you must sign the Permission to Evaluate-Consent form given to you by your local educational agency (LEA). The entire evaluation process must be completed within 60 calendar days (not including summer vacation) from the date your permission is received by the LEA. If your child is eligible for special education, the ER and a summary must be given to you at least 10 school days before a meeting is held to discuss your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). A parent may not feel the 10 days are necessary and must put in writing to the school that the meeting may be held sooner than 10 days. Either way, you will be invited to the meeting.
The types of tests used in the evaluation process depend upon the educational needs of your child. In most cases, your child may be given several tests to help find strengths and needs. Someone other than your child’s general classroom teacher may also observe your child in class. Part of the evaluation includes gathering input from parents about their child. Information that you share about your child is very important and must also be included in the evaluation.