Resource Library

Special Education Evaluation Process

The special education process can be overwhelming. From the initial evaluation and special education process to the re-evaluation, the links below will help guide you in the right direction.

 


 

What is Special Education and Who is Eligible?

The term "Special Education" is defined by federal law to mean "specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability." It can include instruction in general education, special education, in the child's home, in a hospital or institution, or in some other setting. Instruction must also include physical education.

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ASK an Expert: What is Special Education? Webinar

Join Sarah from ASK Resource Center to learn about Special Education and Eligibility. We will explore the IEP, related services and accommodations.

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Suspecting a Disability

The team that determines if a disability is suspected includes, at a minimum, the AEA or AEA in collaboration with the local district. The team must include personnel who understand the rules for eligibility under the IDEA, Iowa law, and the Special Education Eligibility and Evaluation Standards, and have direct knowledge of the learner and the ability to interpret performance data.

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Requesting an Evaluation for Special Education

When parents believe that a disability might be the reason for their child's difficulties in school there are specific steps that can be taken to request an evaluation for Special Education. Parents/guardians can request an evaluation for special education at any time. Children can get interventions in the general education setting and there is often no need for additional support.

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ASK an Expert: Requesting an Evaluation for Special Education Webinar

Join Alicia from ASK Resource Center to learn about Special Education and Eligibility.

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Sample Letter Requesting an Evaluation

In Iowa, the initial evaluation process to determine eligibility for special education services begins with the suspicion of a disability and/or per parent request. If a disability is suspected, a team of educators will seek informed parent consent and begin planning the full and individual Initial Evaluation. During this comprehensive evaluation, the team gathers and documents data about a student's progress and needs. The team also looks at how the student's levels of performance and progress compare to those of classmates or same aged peers. At the end of the initial evaluation, the evaluation team will meet with the parent(s)to review the information gathered during evaluation and determine if a student is eligible for special education.

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A Comprehensive Special Education 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, referred to as performance domains.

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ASK an Expert: Requesting a Comprehensive Evaluation Webinar

Join Mari from ASK Resource Center to discuss comprehensive evaluations. A comprehensive evaluation must be completed for each student in order to become eligible for Special Education services. A description of each of the skill areas that a student can be evaluated under will be explored along with general tips related to Special Education evaluations.

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Child Find Process for Special Education

In Iowa, the initial evaluation process to determine eligibility for special education services begins with the suspicion of a disability and/or per parent request. If a disability is suspected, a team will seek informed parent consent and begin planning the full and individual initial evaluation. During the evaluation, the team collects, gathers, and documents data in the areas of progress, discrepancy, and need, as well as exclusionary factors. At the conclusion of the initial evaluation, the evaluation team, including the parents, meet to determine eligibility for special education.

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Special Education Process Flowchart

Understanding the Special Education Process - An Overview for Parents: This chart offers an overview of the special education process. It shows what happens from the time a child is referred for evaluation and is identified as having a disability, through the development of an Individualized Education Program (IEP).

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Medical and Educational Models

When parents take their child to a doctor or therapist and have a medical or psychological evaluation done for their child, recommendations are made to benefit the child. Doctors often make recommendations for medical or therapeutic services to benefit the child and sometimes suggestions for school services. There have been times when medical doctors have told families to request a 504 Plan or an Individualized Education Program (IEP) from their child's school. It is important to remember this fact: Schools have an obligation to consider any information from outside providers but are not required to follow those recommendations.

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Re-Evaluation for Special Education Eligibility for Individuals 3 - 21

When a child has an IEP, the federal law requires IEP teams to consider reevaluating the student at least every 3 years. Parents can also request that their child be reevaluated up to once per year. This is most often helpful when there are new issues coming up at school related to the disability or the child has received a new diagnosis that may impact him or her at school.

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Sample Letter Requesting a Re-Evaluation - Printable PDF

In order to ensure students continue to be eligible to receive special education services and that their unique educational needs are being appropriately met, IDEA requires that re-evaluations of at a least every three years. The reevaluation process includes the review of existing information and if necessary, or requested, the collection of additional information.

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10 Basic Steps in Special Education

There's a lot to know about the process by which children are identified as having a disability and in need of special education and related services. This brief overview is an excellent place to start. Here, they have distilled the process into 10 basic steps.

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Independent Educational Evaluations

In Iowa, evaluations for special education eligibility are usually done by Area Education Agency personnel, together with the educators at your child's school. However, parents have the right to other options if they believe the information described in the Educational Evaluation Report (EER) is incorrect or incomplete.

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