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Special Education: Evaluation

By: PACER Center (1999)

Before your child receives special education services, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that he or she have an evaluation. An evaluation includes information from parents, any special medical concerns, interviews with parents and school staff, and may include specific tests. The results of an evaluation will be used to see if your child needs special education help in school. You must give your consent in writing before the first evaluation can take place. The evaluation:

  • must be done by trained and knowledgeable persons
  • must be in all areas related to the suspected disability
  • is more than just one test or assessment procedure
  • must be in your child's native language unless clearly not possible to do so
  • must not discriminate against your child

Some questions parents can ask the school staff about evaluation are:

  1. Why do you want to evaluate my child?
  2. What do you think you may find from the evaluation?
  3. What kinds of test will you give?
  4. In what areas will my child be tested?
  5. Will the tests you use discriminate against my child based on: Race? Culture? Disability? Use of language?
  6. How do you know that the tests do or do not discriminate?
  7. What will happen if my child is NOT evaluated? Will he or she still get some help for the problems you identify?
  8. By what date will you give me a written copy of the evaluation results?
  9. What steps should I take if I do not agree with the evaluation results?

If your child has behavior problems at school, these questions may be helpful:

  1. Does my child need a "functional behavioral assessment?" Why or why not? (a functional behavioral assessment looks at why a child is having behavior problems in school)
  2. What are you doing to help my child learn new behavior skills?

If you disagree with the school district's evaluation results, you have a right to:

  1. have someone outside the school system evaluate your child {this is called an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE)}
  2. help select the person or persons who will do the testing
  3. have the testing done at no cost to you or your family*
  4. The school district must either have your child evaluated at no cost to you, or show, at a hearing, that its evaluation is appropriate.

Source: 1999 PACER Center, Inc.; 4826 Chicago Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55417 (612) 827-2966; Fax (612) 827-3065; e-mail: pacer@pacer.org