Students at Ben Rush Elementary School collect stamps in their school “passport” as they learn about world geography throughout the year.
The purpose of the evaluation is to collect information about a student’s functional, developmental and academic skills and achievements from a variety of sources, in order to determine whether a student qualifies for special education services, and the contents of an IEP. This evaluation may include information provided by the parent. All information gathered in this process is reviewed by the evaluation team, IEP team, or other group of qualified professionals.
The evaluation must be an individual assessment designed to determine:
- Whether the student is eligible for special education and any necessary related services; and
- The nature and extent of special education and related services needed by the student, including information related to enabling the child to be involved in and progress in the general education curriculum
The building’s guidance team shall select the members of the evaluation group. Members selected must include individuals who are knowledgeable about the student and the areas of suspected disabilities. Qualifications of a group member include having the appropriate professional license or certification. This may include outside practitioners when necessary. Professional members of the evaluation group need to be familiar with qualifying disability definitions and criteria in federal and state rules. When assessing for specific learning disabilities, the parents must be part of the group.
Specific areas to be included in the evaluation are determined by the guidance team and other qualified professionals, as appropriate, as part of a review of existing data concerning the student. All current evaluation data, as well as data previously reviewed by the group, must be considered. It could include data provided by parents, data gathered in the general education and / or data gathered from state and district level assessments. The data may provide information about the student's physical condition, social or cultural background and adaptive behavior. This review of existing data may be conducted without a meeting. The evaluation does not rely on one source or procedure as the sole criterion for determination and should include:
- Review of existing data, including corresponding response to intervention (RTI) documentation
- Relevant functional and developmental information
- Information from parents
- Information from other providers
- Information related to enabling access to and progress within the general education curriculum and assisting in determining whether there is a disability and the content of the IEP
- Current classroom-based evaluations, using criterion-referenced and curriculum-based methods, anecdotal records and observations
- Teacher and related service providers' observations
- Testing and other evaluation materials, which may include medical or other evaluations when necessary
When additional assessments are necessary, the group members have the responsibility of selecting, administering, interpreting and making judgments about evaluation methods and results, and ensuring that the tests and assessments are administered by qualified personnel in accordance with the instructions of the test producer. The gathering of additional data in combination with existing data must be sufficiently comprehensive to address all areas of the suspected disability and any special education needs, whether linked to the disability category or not. If the IEP Team determines that no additional data is needed, the IEP team will notify the student’s parent of that determination and the reasons for it, and inform them of their right to request additional assessments. The district will follow the evaluation procedures outlined in WAC 392-172A.
There are many legal requirements for conducting evaluations. Evaluation procedures or materials must be free of racial, cultural, or sexual/gender bias and they must be used for the purpose for which they are valid and reliable. Tests must be appropriate for the student’s age and developmental level. Tests should be administered in the native language of the student or conducted in the mode of communication most familiar to the student, as appropriate and determined by the evaluation team of professionals and parents’ input and/or request. If it appears to be clearly not feasible to conduct a procedure or test in the mode of communication most frequently used by the student, the IEP team will contact the special education administrator to develop an individualized strategy for valid evaluation of the student’s skills. The inclusion of parents in this collaboration is desirable and strongly encouraged.
*See the Special Education Terms & Definitions page for more information.