Can a School be Forced to Evaluate a Child?

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February 10, 2009

ISSN: 1538-3202

Issue: 473
Subscribers: 68,096

In This Issue:

Can Parents Force a School to Evaluate Their Child?

The Legal Requirement to Evaluate a Child is Clear and Unambiguous

Evaluation Criteria

Evaluating a Child Who Already Has an IEP

Evaluation Results Must Be Provided

Consider an Independent Educational Evaluation

 

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young girl at the computer smilingYou've requested an evaluation of your child. The school team refuses saying testing will not provide any relevant information for educational planning.

When the school doesn't want to test your child, can you force them to evaluate?

That's an interesting way to frame a question and one that may not have a clear answer.

What is clear is the law requires the school to evaluate your child if you request testing.

In this issue of the Special Ed Advocate a new article by Pam Wright answers questions about what should happen when a parent and advocate want a child tested, but the school does not want to evaluate the child for special education services.

Please don't hesitate to forward this issue to other families, friends, and colleagues.

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Can Parents Force a School to Evaluate Their Child?

"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."

Can a school be "forced" to do something they don't want to do?

Let's frame the question another way.

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

Is the school required to comply with the law? Yes.

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The Legal Requirement to Evaluate a Child is Clear and Unambiguous

student taking testIf teachers are providing your child with accommodations and modifications in the classroom, it would suggest that he 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))

IDEA 2004: Law and Regulations

Learn more about Assessments, Evaluations, and Tests

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Evaluation Criteria

"Testing is not needed when the child's teachers are providing accommodations and modifications." This is incorrect.

Assessments and interventions from your child's teachers 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))

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Evaluating a Child Who Already Has an IEP

If your child is receiving special education services under an IEP, his 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 your child’s educational needs?

For more information about when evaluations are required, read Can a School be Forced to Evaluate a Child?

test scores bargraphAll important educational decisions - eligibility, services in your child's IEP, educational progress - are based on test scores. Not grades, not subjective observations - test scores.

To learn more about what tests measure and what your child's test scores mean read Tests and Measurements
for the Parent, Teacher, Advocate, and Attorney.

Understanding Your Child's Test Scores

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Evaluation Results Must be Provided

"Does the school have to provide information from testing?" Yes.

Parents are entitled to receive copies of all of their child's 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)

Read more about the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

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Consider an Independent Educational Evaluation

You may need to write a letter documenting that the school does not believe they should be “forced” to evaluate the child (and comply with the law).

Independent Evaluation reviewYou also need to remember that it is likely any testing by the school will support the school's position.

If you act in the best interest of your child, you will want to consider an evaluation by an expert in the private sector.

Read more about Independent Educational Evaluations (IEEs): What? How? Why? Who Pays?

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