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Can a School be Forced to Evaluate a Child?
The Team Says Testing Will Not Provide Relevant Information for Educational Planning

young girl at the computer smilingQUESTION

"Is the school forced to do psycho-educational testing when the child's school team agrees that testing would not provide information relevant to the child's educational planning?

The foster parent and court advocate want the child tested anyway. Does the school have to provide information from testing?

This child fits every exclusionary clause from special education written, and testing is not needed when the classroom teachers are making accommodations and modifications."

ANSWER

Can a school be "forced" to do something they don't want to do? That's an interesting way to frame the question.

Does the law require the school to test the child? Yes.

You say testing is not needed when the child's teachers are providing accommodations and modifications. This is incorrect.

Criteria for Evaluations

Teacher assessments and interventions do not meet the criteria for an evaluation. According to the IDEA, "the screening of a student by teacher or specialist to determine appropriate instructional strategies ... shall not be considered to be an evaluation .." (20 U.S.C. 1414(a)(1)(E))

You do not say if the child is a child with a disability who receives special education services under an IEP, so we will look at two scenarios:

(1) parent requests evaluation of a child who is not receiving services under an IEP, and

(2) parent requests evaluation of a child who receives special ed services under an IEP.

Parent Requests Evaluation of a Child Who is Not Receiving Services under an IEP

You wrote that the teachers provide accommodations and modifications. This suggests that the child needs to be evaluated for special education eligibility.

The law about the requirement to evaluate if requested by the child’s parent is clear and unambiguous:

"A State educational agency, other State agency, or local educational agency [school district] shall conduct a full and individual initial evaluation ... either the parent of a child, or a State education agency, other State agency, or local educational agency may initiate a request for an initial evaluation to determine if the child is a child with a disability." 20 USC 1414(a)(1)

In the section about Child Find, you learn:

"All children with disabilities residing in the state, including children with disabilities attending private schools, regardless of the severity of their disabilities, and who are in need of special education and related services, are identified, located, and evaluated . . ." (20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(3))

Parent Requests Evaluation of a Child Who Receives Special Education Service Under an IEP

If the child is receiving special education services under an IEP, the child's progress should be monitored frequently. It's hard to imagine a school taking the position that "testing would not provide information relevant to the child's educational planning." If the school doesn't use test results, how can they make rational decisions about the child’s educational needs?

Evaluation Results

You asked, "Does the school have to provide information from testing?" Yes. The child's parents are entitled to receive copies of all evaluations and test scores.

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), parents have the right to inspect and review all educational records relating to their child. Educational records include evaluations and test results. The right to review records includes the right to have copies of records and to receive explanations and interpretations from school officials. (20 U.S.C. Sec. 1415(b); U.S.C. at 1232g and 1232h)

In your email, you did not mention your role.

If you wrote on behalf of the school, please pass this information on to other school staff so they know schools are required ("forced") to evaluate.

If you are acting on the child's behalf, I suggest that you write a letter to the foster parent, advocate, and judge. Advise them that the school does not believe they should be “forced” to evaluate the child (and comply with the law). Thus, it’s likely that any testing by the school will support the school's position. You may want to ask the judge to order an evaluation by an expert in the private sector.

More Resources

IDEA 2004

Evaluations

Eligibility

Accommodations and Modifications

Child Find

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

Letter Writing and Paper Trails

 

Created 12/15/08

 

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