Has your special needs child become old enough to attend school? Or have you just become aware that your child has a problem in school? You will most likely be seeking special education services from the school system. You may also want the school to evaluate your child for a learning disability. No matter the reason, a school evaluation for special education services can help identify areas that your child is struggling in and provide a treatment plan to help them overcome these learning obstacles.
Who Can Request an Evaluation for Special Education Services?
Either you or the school can request an evaluation for special education services. In most schools, a child cannot receive SPED services until he is given an evaluation.
If your child is in preschool or another early education program, you can contact your local school system’s board of education. They will provide you with more information on how to request early screening and intervention.
What is Evaluation in Special Education?
During a school evaluation, there is no single test that will be used to prove whether or not your child has a learning disability for eligibility for special education services. There are a number of areas that will be tested, and several trained professionals will weigh in on your child’s function and assessment.
The evaluation might include:
- Medical professionals
- Physical or occupational therapists
- Speech pathologists
- The school’s own special education teachers and assistants
Most likely it will be a combination of these specialists who assess and diagnose your child for a correct plan.
There are several requirements for a school evaluation:
- None of the tests should discriminate against a child in any manner
- The tests must be in the child’s natural language
- All tests must measure a disability and not their English speaking ability
Types of Evaluations for Special Education
• Academic – If your child is struggling to grasp certain concepts during the normal course of the day, a learning disability could be at fault. Testing will be performed in a variety of areas that include reading, comprehension, and math.
• Developmental – These delays might only become apparent after your child begins school. Testing will focus on the standards for children their age, and be compared to their own achievements and results.
• Functional – It might simply be that your child has trouble functioning in some areas. He might require specialized assistance in order to overcome the obstacles.
There is no right or wrong for a child to perform on these tests. It’s simply a manner of finding their strengths and weaknesses. Then work with your child’s unique abilities or limitations.
What Types of Assessments Are Used for Special Education Identification?
Special education identification uses a number of assessments. Your child may take a variety of tests.
• Norm-referenced tests – These are standardized tests that compare your child’s individual test results to other children in their peer group. This helps to see where your child with special needs might need help the most.
• Individual tests – Just like it sounds, this type of test is given to test your child’s strengths and weaknesses in age-appropriate categories.
• Functional assessments – This test helps determine how children function in the home, school, and their community. It will address their educational skills such as reading and math. In addition, the assessment also determines whether or not they possess the basic self-skills to learn without assistance.
• Behavioral assessments – Behavior assessments are used to determine the best course of treatment for a child with behavioral issues. It will be used to assess the type of behavior that the child is exhibiting, what the outcome of the behavior was, and how to correct the behavior for future instances.
• Curriculum-based assessments – This test by school officials assesses where your child stands on learning the concepts for their appropriate grade level.
• Criterion-referenced tests – This test is designed to assess what skills or concepts a child has already mastered, and compares them to areas that need specialized attention and assistance.
What Happens After the Evaluation?
Then a group of professionals analyzes the test results to determine a treatment plan with clear, identifiable goals for your child.
Consequently, a child’s determination of eligibility will be judged by whether or not it falls under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) guidelines. The school system will provide you with a copy of the report and information about the determination.
What Are the Next Steps in the Special Education Process?
If the assessment determines that your child with special needs requires special education services, the next step is to meet with school officials to develop an Individualized Education Plan or IEP. An IEP determines what goals to accomplish and the definable steps on how to reach those goals.
But, don’t hesitate to ask questions about the results of the school evaluation. Get clarification from the professional that tested your child. This will help you make an informed decision regarding the next phase of your child’s education.
You must provide consent in writing before your child’s IEP is put into action. In addition, if you don’t agree with the findings of the school evaluation for special education, you have the right to obtain an Independent Education Evaluation (IEE).
You have the right to obtain an IEE at your private expense. The school system must then “consider” the assessment as long as they meet agency criteria. You can also ask in writing that the school system pay for an IEE or arrange for an IEE at no cost if you disagree with the results of the assessment.
But if the school system feels that their assessment is valid they can refuse to pay for an IEE. Although the school system must then file for a Due Process Hearing to demonstrate that their assessment is valid. You can get more information about this here: Independent Educational Evaluation.
The results from this assessment can help you either better understand the school’s evaluation or challenge their findings.
Special Ed Resource Has Your Back
Parenting a child with special needs can be difficult at times, but is also full of a lot of love and joy. Children with special needs simply see the world on different terms, which is why it’s crucial for us to teach in a way they can easily understand.
We offer custom lesson plans tailored to your child with special needs and provide one-on-one tutoring and instruction to help your child learn their course work in a way that works best for them. There is no universal way in which to teach children so they all understand.
It’s more about working with what they can do, and improving results based on their accomplishments. We can all make a difference in your child’s life by working together.
We also have a Facebook group just for parents of children with special needs. Join Special Ed Parenting today!