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Daniel:  My child is 5 and has Down syndrome. We are in CA. He is currently in a blended preschool class and is thriving. We intend for him to be fully integrated next year in kindergarten with supports.
At his first IEP, 2-2014, we refused the school’s request for a psychological assessment. His disability code was recorded as EMD- Established Medical Disability. Now that he will be transitioning from preschool to kindergarten the school is again requesting psych assessments. They state that the EMD code cannot be used on his IEP going forward. Is this correct?
They are also requesting that his triennial IEP be done along with his annual. To my knowledge, his tri would be due one year from now. At this point we have agreed to the annual IEP with no psych assessment. Please advise us on how to proceed.
Thank you.

  1. EMD is only for three and four year old children. Your child needs to be assessed to determine if he is eligible for special education going forward and under what category.

    What scares you about having him assessed?

    • It seems many parents don’t want IQ tests because they don’t want their child labeled with an intellectual disability. This hurts the child in the long run for obtaining waivers and support in adulthood.

  2. An EMD eligibility is just for students that are 3-4 years old in California. Typically a student with Down Syndrome would qualify under Intellectual Disability. When a student transitions from preschool to kindergarten, the school is obligated to complete a transtion assessment in order to determine the proper placement, services and LRE. You cannot disagree with a psych assessment forever, as it is needed to create goals and objectives as well as placement. Continued refusal of assessment could lead to the district filing due process against you. What is the worry about the assessment? The district will not go forward with any changes without your consent and it gives you information on your child’s progress.

    Also, triennials are typically aligned with annual IEP’s so on the years there are tri’s you don’t need to have two unnecessary meeting sometimes weeks apart. If there is worry in this you have the right to call an IEP meeting at any time.

  3. If the school is proposing IQ testing to help determine your son’s needs, and you’re opposed to this, you can suggest an adaptive behavior assessment instead.

    Regarding the school’s “early” request for re-evaluation – they must reevaluate AT LEAST every three years. They can propose that it occurs sooner, if they think your child’s needs have changed or feel they need more information.

    I almost always suggest parents go along with these request from schools. Updated information is always useful, and it will help maintain a positive relationship with your school.

    Instead of saying no, inquire about the proposed reevaluation. Ask why they need the testing, and what particular types of tests they will use. If you think your sons has additional needs that wouldn’t be addressed by the school’s evaluation, ask that those areas are tested as well. If you disagree with some of what they’re proposing, suggest alternatives.

  4. If that’s the case, and you’re opposed to the IQ testing, here’s an alternative you can propose. The disability category is supposed to signify the student’s area of greatest need. What are your son’s primary challenges? If they are other than cognition issues, or a mix of issues, the school could avoid this need for IQ testing by establishing his eligibility within another category.

    Regarding determining needs – often schools will ask for psych testing to help determine what they are and how to support them. When it comes to IQ testing, I personally think they are pretty useless for this purpose.

    For students who do have cognition issues (and pretty much all students, actually), adaptive behavior assessment are far more useful – these provide information about how a student is functioning in a range of skill areas. They do usually offer an age-equivalency score (i.e. your child is functioning at age x in this area), but I think this is more palatable for many that an IQ score.

  5. Daniel –

    I have a couple of thoughts…

    Have you asked the school why they’re requesting the psychological assessment? How about what type of tests will be included? If not, ask. Many parents assume this will include IQ testing (and it usually does), and are opposed to such testing.

    Generally speaking, the school conducts evaluations for two reasons – to establish eligibility for special education and to determine a student’s needs.

    Regarding eligibility – when a school finds a student eligible, they must classify him/her within a disability category. To be eligible under a specific category, a student must meet the definition for that category.

    Kids with down syndrome are typically classified under intellectual impairment. In most states, the definition for this category includes an IQ cut off. So it’s likely that the school wants to conduct IQ testing as part of the psych assessment, to help establish your son’s eligibility under that category.

  6. It sounds like CA is using the EMD label for young children with developmental delays as allowed in IDEA rules, 300.8(b). A state decides whether to use this rule, & for what ages. It allows schools to do less testing & avoid IQ tests for younger students. The district could qualify a student without an IQ test, but it would help to know what state rules say. The CA parent training & information project can assist you. http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center/

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