When is an evaluation required?


An evaluation must be conducted by the school and/or Area Education Agency (AEA) in order to determine if a student is eligible to receive special education services through an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Parents can request an evaluation for special education services at any time or the school could initiate the process.

The first step for a student to become eligible for special education
is the Disability Suspected process, which is used to determine the need for an evaluation. An evaluation is only required if the child is suspected of having a disability that might be impacting their education. To qualify for special education services and an IEP, evaluation results must show that a student has a disability and needs special education and related services. In Iowa, disability is defined as having a physical or mental condition that adversely affects educational performance.

There are two kinds of evaluations related to special education eligibility:

  1. An initial evaluation is done to determine if a student is eligible for special education services. If a student is found eligible, the team uses the evaluation results to determine the specially designed instruction, goals and related services that are needed to address the impact of the student’s disability. The team, including parents, will develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP).
  2.  A reevaluation is required by law every three years, unless the team, including parents, agrees it is not necessary. The purpose is to determine if a student who already has an IEP still qualifies and if his/her needs have changed. If a student’s needs have changed, the specially designed instruction, goals or related services may also need to be changed.

Parents also may request a reevaluation of their student’s needs related to the IEP up to once per year, or more often if the school agrees it is necessary. This may include evaluating a new area of concern.

What is a comprehensive evaluation?


A comprehensive evaluation covers all areas that may be impacted by a disability. It should identify all of a student’s special education and related service needs.

In order for an evaluation to be comprehensive, a student should be evaluated in all areas related to the disability or area of concern. These areas are referred to as performance domains. The seven performance domains in which students can be evaluated include: academic, adaptive behavior, social emotional behavior, communication, physical, health, hearing and vision. See the chart in this resource for more explanation about each performance domain.

IEP teams, including parents, should review the existing information available in each of the performance domains and decide whether additional evaluations should be conducted in that area or if it can be ruled out as a factor impacting the student’s learning. The evaluation results must be detailed enough to identify the student’s educational needs.

When an evaluation is completed, an Educational Evaluation Report (EER) will be written to include all of the information that was collected through the evaluation. A meeting will then be held with parents, at a mutually agreed upon time, to review the results and make decisions about the student’s eligibility and needs.

What are some helpful tips for IEP Evaluations?

• Put all evaluation requests in writing. Sample letters requesting an evaluation or reevaluation are available on ASK’s website.
• Share specific concerns about your student’s learning or behavior with the team before the evaluation begins.
• Parents can request an evaluation for assistive technology (AT).*
• Both the initial evaluation and reevaluation can include testing and observations that require parent consent.
• When parents sign permission for an initial evaluation, this begins the 60 calendar day timeline. There is no specific timeline required for reevaluations.
• Before the eligibility meeting, parents can request a copy of the evaluation results (EER) to review and prepare any questions or concerns.
• If parents disagree with the results of the AEA’s evaluation or believe that an area of need was not evaluated they can request an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) from a private evaluator.

*Assistive Technology is not recognized as a Performance Domain but must be considered by IEP teams.


Related Resources

Look for the following resources on the ASK website:

• Requesting an Evaluation for Special Education
• Re-evaluation for Special Education Eligibility
• Independent Educational Evaluations (IEE)

From the Iowa IDEA Information website:
• Defining a Disability

ASK Essential Questions

• Did the team include all areas of concern regarding my child’s performance?
• Did I sign permission for the evaluation?