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Understanding Special Education: The Evaluation Process

Understanding Special Education: The Evaluation Process

You, as a parent or guardian, are the expert on your child. If you are concerned that your child has a disability or is not making progress, it is important to understand how to start the process to obtain additional support for your child in the classroom. The special education evaluation process can be the first step in finding out what supports your child needs. 

The Evaluation Process

1. Request an evaluation. To begin the evaluation process, you should submit a written request for evaluation to a school official, such as the school principal or counselor, with the date included. The school must either send you: (1) a Permission to Evaluate-Consent Form (PTE), which explains the reasons for the evaluation, any records or reports the school will use, and the specific types of tests that the school district will do; or (2) written notice, which explains why the school will not evaluate your child. Alternatively, the school can request the evaluation, but you still must sign the PTE to begin the evaluation.

2. Participate in the evaluation. Within 60 calendar days (not including summer months) of receiving the PTE, the school must complete all assessments of your child and provide you with an Evaluation Report. The assessment process may involve testing, interviews, observations, and a review of the student’s academic recornd work. You can also provide information from outside medical or other professionals who know your child. Your child will be eligible for special education if he or she: (1) meets the definition of one of the disability categories; and (2) needs specialized instruction and related services because of the disability.

3. Create the IEP. If your child is eligible to receive special education, you must meet with the IEP team to establish and write the annual plan. The school must set up the meeting within 30 calendar days after issuing the Evaluation Report. The IEP should include educational services to address all of your child’s unique needs. Parents and guardians are an important part of the IEP team and must be invited to all IEP meetings. You should attend the meetings or request to reschedule them so that you can help plan for your child.

4. Review the NOREP. After the meeting, the school will provide you with the Notice of Recommended Educational Placement (NOREP) exping the placement and educational services offered to your child in the IEP. The NOREP should be consistent with the plan that was discussed at the meeting. Typically, the NOREP explains services that will be provided at your child’s current school. However, if your child requires a specialized program that is not provided at the current school, the NOREP could explain that your child will be transferred to a different school. You must indicate on the NOREP whether you agree with the proposed plan and return it to the school within 10 calendar days.

·      If you disagree, you may request a meeting with school officials, mediation, or a due process hearing.

“color: rgb(62, 62, 60); background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255); font-family: Symbol;”>·      If you do not want your child to change to the educational program listed in the NOREP, you should request mediation or a due process hearing to freeze the placement. This is called pendency. You can learn more about pendency, as well as requesting mediation or a due process hearing, by visiting the Office of Dispute Resolution at odr-pa.org or contacting the Office of Dispute Resolution’s ConsultLine at 800-879-2301.

5. Implement the IEP. If you do not request mediation or a due process hearing, the school must begin providing the services written in the IEP as soon as possible but no later than 10 school days after the school issues the NOREP.

6. Review the plan at least annually. The school must meet to review the IEP at least once a year, but it should provide you with reports of progress throughout the school year. You can request an IEP meeting at any time to discuss any concerns. In addition, the school must reevaluate your child at least once eve every two years for children with intellectual disabilities) or as needed based on your child’s progress.

Transitioning from an Early Intervention Program to Kindergarten

For eligible preschool children ages 3 to 5 years old living in Philadelphia and areas of Delaware County, Elwyn SEEDS provides Preschool Early Intervention (EI) testing and coordinates support services. When children with EI services are of school age, Elwyn SEEDS coordinates the Transition to Kindergarten process, which begins a year prior to starting Kindergarten. Eligible children can have an established IEP that will provide support first while seeking reevaluation with the District or charter school. Learn more about transitioning from an Early Intervention program here.

Disclaimer: This information, reviewed by the Education Law Center, provides a general idea of Pennsylvania and federal special education laws and should not be considered legal advice.

More Information

For more information about special education or for assistance in the evaluation process, contact:

·     “http://philasd.org/specializedservices” target=”_blank”>Office of Specialized Services, 215-400-4170

·   “http://odr-pa.org/” target=”_blank”>The Office of Dispute Resolution, ConsultLine, 800-879-2301

·   “http://elc-pa.org/” target=”_blank”>Education Law Center, 215-238-6970

·   “http://www.elwyn.org/services/children-3-21/seeds-preschool-early-intervention-services/” target=”_blank”>Elwyn SEEDS, 215-222-8054

What types of services special education services are available in public schools? Read this article.

Looking for more information on finding a great school? See all articles here.

More information

Looking for more information on finding a great school? See all articles here.

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