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School Plans to Re-Evaluate My Child Without “Testing”

08/16/12
by Pam Wright

The school district plans to re-evaluate my son entering kindergarten. The re-eval will not involve “testing.” The school says they will only observe him and interview the parents.

Does the district need to do some kind of standardized testing?

I wish school staff were required to know what the law says – it would save everyone so much time and help to prevent breaches in trust that are hard to repair.

The school is required to evaluate the child unless the parent and school agree that a reevaluation is unnecessary.

The school must reevaluate if the parent or teacher requests a reevaluation.

  • The school is not required to evaluate more often than once a year unless the parents and school agree otherwise.
  • The school must evaluate at least every three years unless the parent and school agree that a reevaluation is not necessary.

Nothing in the law supports the school’s refusal to reevaluate or their belief that an observation and interviewing the parents IS a reevaluation.

It should be clear to anyone that the needs of a young child who is entering kindergarten are changing often. This is especially true for children who have disabilities.

For young children, there is a “window of opportunity” that affects their ability to learn speech, language and reading.  This window will begin to close sooner than we like.

IDEA Requirements

The IDEA requires the child’s IEP to include “a statement of the child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance.”

If a child has not been evaluated for a year or more, the IEP team will not have information about the child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance on which to base the IEP.

The Law about Evaluations and Re-evaluations

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition

The law about evaluations and re-evaluations is in section 1414 (a) (b), and (c)  in on pages 95-98.

The regulations are in pages 238-243.

At top of page 95, see (2) Reevaluations. The school district “shall ensure that a reevaluation … is conducted … if the child’s parents or teacher requests a reevaluation.” The word “shall” means that the school must do this. Period.

Just below this is (b) Evaluation Procedures – describes the procedures and requirements for evaluations and re-evaluations. The school “shall use a variety of assessment tools and strategies to gather relevant functional developmental, and academic information, including information provided by the parent…” and “may not use any single measure or assessment as the sole criterion for determining whether the child is a child with a disability or determining an appropriate educational program for the child…” (measures and assessments are tests)

On page 96, Subsection (A) describes “Assessments and other evaluation materials used to assess a child” (tests), that these tests should “yield accurate information on what the child knows and can do academically, developmentally, and functionally” that the “assessments or measures are  valid and reliable” and “are administered by trained and knowledgeable personnel” and are administered in accordance with instructions from the test publisher.

On page 96, Subsection (B) requires the school to assess the child “in all areas of suspected disability.”

Subsection (4)–Determination of eligibility and educational need– describes assessments and other evaluation measures used to determine the educational needs of the child. Assessments and evaluation measures refer to objective tests.

On page 97, Subsection (C)–Additional Requirements for Evaluation and Reevaluations–includes several requirements. The IEP team “shall review existing evaluation data, identify what additional data are needed, to determine the educational needs of the child … The present levels of academic achievement and developmental needs of the child, whether the child needs any additions or modifications to the special education and related services said the child can meet the measurable annual goals in the IEP.” In subsection (2) Source of data–the school district “shall administer such assessments and the other evaluation measures as may be needed to produce the data identified by the IEP”. (more references to tests)

Subsection (4) Requirements if additional data are not needed. If the school team determines that no additional data are needed, they “shall notify the child’s parents… Of the right of such parents to request an assessment… to determine child’s educational needs…”

It’s more than ignorance of the law – perhaps a pervasive mistrust of standardized testing?

I read an article on Education Week recently about a survey of 10,000 public school teachers -they don’t believe standardized tests are of value in measuring progress.

“Most teachers do not believe standardized tests have significant value as measures of student performance, according to a new report published jointly by Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.”

“The report, based on a survey of more than 10,000 public school teachers, finds that only 28 percent of educators see state-required standardized tests as an essential or very important gauge of student achievement. In addition, only 26 percent of teachers say standardized tests are an accurate reflection of what students know.”

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7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Michelle 09/22/12 at 1:18 pm

    I represented my son (pro se) at a BSEA Hearing and one of the material facts in my complaint was that the school district did not re-evaluate him for over 4.5 years and was refusing to re-evaluate him. Upon receipt of the complaint the school district agreed to evaluate, which they did prior to the hearing. I disagreed with the evaluation results but had not had time to have an IEE prior to hearing. The result was the school district had the burden of proof on the prospective placement after the evaluation. The decision of the H.O. stated that it was “inconclusive” and as a result ordered the school to do an evaluation, BUT limited the scope of the re-evaluation. The school district never did the evaluation. I have since unilaterally placed my son but an unsure how to proceed as to legal standard of evaluations ordered by H.O.s.

  • 2 dad2luke 08/27/12 at 4:09 pm

    RE: I was stunned when school staff did not seem to understand the need for objective data on a hearing impaired/ deaf child who is entering their Kindergarten program

    I guess that I should be stunned as well, but sadly, I am not. My district seems to use its (willful) ignorance to justify denying services. We have been in a similar position and pretty much had to get an outside assessment to be able argue for services.

    I still believe that in the long run, a due process hearing (for an IEE) decides if what the school did was appropriate.

  • 3 Wrightslaw 08/19/12 at 11:18 am

    Morning, Thanks for putting this up.

  • 4 Morning 08/18/12 at 1:18 pm

    The information below may be helpful for parents in Connecticut. I think it all goes back to what I have learned from Wrightslaw. KNOW the law yourself. School staff my misinterpret or not understand the law.

    There is also some specific legislation included in the legislation below pertaining to hearing impaired students.

    Signed into law on Friday, June 15th by Connecticut Governor Malloy, education bill #5353SB, now known as Public Act 12-173, goes into effect on July 1, 2012. “An Act Concerning Individualized Education Programs and Other Issues Related to Special Education,” will provide parents with additional information to help them participate more effectively as members of the PPT team.

  • 5 Sue 08/18/12 at 10:24 am

    I am not stunned regarding the ignorance of the importance of objective data. A school that doesn’t consider the individual needs of a student in their special education program has no need for objective data. It only serves to get in the way of their method of implementing special education services.

    I would venture to say more school staff lack basic understanding of the law than those that do. They know what they are told and trust it is accurate.

  • 6 Wrightslaw 08/16/12 at 8:08 pm

    Dad2Luke: it’s clear from your comment that you’ve been around the block a few times. I’m sorry about all the obstacles you’ve been dealt.

    In this case, the school did not plan to do an evaluation. Period. They planned to observe the child and interview the parents. While this can provide good info, they are not the same as an evaluation that consists of assessments and tests. I was stunned when school staff did not seem to understand the need for objective data on a hearing impaired/ deaf child who is entering their Kindergarten program.

  • 7 Dad2Luke 08/16/12 at 4:17 pm

    Unfortunately the way my district acts is this:
    (1) They get to decide what constitutes an appropriate evaluation.
    (2) They get to decide which, if any, assessment tools to use. They don’t have to tell me what they will use.
    (3) If they do not like a test result, they can pretend it never happened, and not tell me about it.
    and
    (4) If we don’t like this then we can ask for an IEE and expect to have to go to due process.

    I believe that they are simply taking the “The decider decides, not the law” principle to its ultimate conclusion.

    So I believe that the answer to this parent’s question is ultimately a hearing officer decides what is an appropriate evaluation. Which also means that the parents pretty much have to pony up for an evaluation to show what it is that the District missed, and then try to get reimbursed.