Referral, Evaluation and Eligibility for Special Education Services

Referral, Evaluation and Eligibility for Special Education Services


>>My name is Ashley Belnap and I am a parent consultant
at the Utah Parent Center. And I’m excited to be here today
to talk to you a little bit about the special education process. And to tell you a little bit about
myself, I have 2 children who are in the special education process today. They’re actually in the pre-kindergarten:
so we’re in preschool stages right now. And I’m really excited to start kindergarten
with them next year to start working with general educators as
we get more into the system. It’s a little nerve racking but it’s really
exciting to have started this IEP process at an earlier stage for my children as I
began in the early intervention program and as they transition to age 3 too in IEP. So in this video series, I’m going to be talking
to you about the special education process and how you can be team player — or a team
partner in the special education process. You as a parent are an expert on your
child and you have so much important and invaluable valuable information
to bring to this process. As a team, you along with school
personnel are going to be working together. And I know that sounds like maybe it’s something
that is not achievable but it really can be. As you focus on the needs of the child
– their educational and support needs – that is going to be the basis
of working together as a team. And there are going to be possibly some barriers
that you’re going to bring to this process. I myself – my first IEP meeting
– was very nervous. When I walked into the room and saw everybody
sitting there, I first had never heard of an IEP and so it was very nerve racking. But seeing all those faces there, I
kind of put up some barriers thinking, “Do these people really know my children? And are they going to know
exactly what my fears are for them and know what’s best for my children?” But once I put those barriers aside — and I’m sure that the teachers
had some barriers as well. They could have thought, “Oh here
comes another emotional parent. And you know, maybe she’s
going to be hard to work with.” But we need to put those barriers aside so that
we can come together and be an effective team. And being that effective team brings
positive reinforcement and we can further — it sets a positive foundation for
also further meetings once we’re able to put those barriers aside. Under the IDEA – which is the Individual
with Disabilities Education Act – we have a few laws here that it requires
a free appropriate public education for all children with disabilities. And these include 2 parts here. Part C is the earlier intervention
like I discussed earlier with my boys, and this serves children zero to 3 years of age. And they have an IFSP plan which is
an Individualized Family Service Plan. And just about transitioning to age 3, it sends
us to Part B which brings us to the IEP plan which through special education this
ranges from the age of 3 to graduation or until the age of 22 years old. And also special agency — excuse me, special
education preschool which serves ages 3 until 5. Special education is a specially designed
instruction at no cost to parents, and it meets the unique needs
of a child with a disability. This also includes instruction in the classroom,
home, hospital if your child has been ill – those services will be still met – or
an institution and in any other setting. This also applies to students who have
been expelled or suspended from school. And also instruction in physical education. And I really excited to see that point since
my son has a lot of physical disabilities, it makes me feel confident as a parent
that those will also be met as well. Under IDEA – the Individuals with Disability
Education Act – we are going to talk about some 6 principles that
you’re going to be familiar with. The first one is FAPE: the Free
Appropriate Public Education. And this is at no cost to parents and it applies
to your eligible children with a disability. Also like I had said earlier, it includes those who have been suspended and
expelled from school. We’re going to talk about the
appropriate evaluation briefly. This is the gathering of accurate information
to determine the eligibility of your child and also the continued eligibility as
your child furthers in the education. And it identifies your child’s
strengths and educational needs. The IEP: the Individualized Education Program. This is a legally binding
written program or document that outlines your child’s
specific special education program. And it’s based on your child’s
educational needs. The LRE is the least restrictive
environment which is very important because your child will receive
the appropriate education designed to meet their special education needs
while being taught among non-disabled peers to the maximum extent appropriate. The parent-student involvement. IDEA requires that parents must have or be
given the opportunity to play a central role in the planning and decision making
in their own child’s education. And that is really fantastic because you are
a very important key member to this process. You have the opportunity to participate in
meetings – IEP meetings – identification, evaluation and educational
placement for your child. Your student’s rights and
participation are equally important because if your child is there – especially
if they’re going through transition in their school – their voice needs to be heard. And their rights are just as important
to be there and to see the members of the team come together for them. Also the procedural safeguards. These are safeguards to protect the rights
of parents for yourself and for your child. And it’s very important to know these,
to read them and to understand them. Okay, so this is the IEP process. We’re going to review this briefly
and talk a little more in detail as we go further into these slides. As you can see here, this special education
process begins with a referral to the evaluation to find out if your child is
eligible to the eligibility. And then we go to the Individualized
Education Plan, to the placement, to instruction and the annual review. As you can see, this is a very
elegant and logical process and it followed the appropriate services for your child should follow
and it should be the end result. So if something is not going correctly in your
child’s plan or process, it’s really important to go back, look at this process and see where
it’s broken down and start from an earlier step. I’m sure as all of us parents have had to
do, we’ve had to you know find the tweaks and what works with our child in
their special education program. A referral is a process of making a
request for your child to be evaluated from your child’s school to see if
they are eligible for these services. Students may be referred for referral by
teachers, the child’s teacher, the principle, a parent, social workers, doctors and others: those others who might be closely
related or be around the child. So this brings us to the initial evaluation. This is a structured gathering
process that leads to decisions and the classification labels for your child. It also puts into play the educational
placement, specific interventions and it helps us measure the progress of
where your child is and where they’re going. So a full and individual
evaluation determines if your child under IDEA is a child with a disability. And also like I have suggested before,
shows the educational needs for your child. Once written consent or once you have
that written request for that evaluation, the school has 45 days to have that
evaluation started for your child. So please be sure that a written request
must be made and a parent must give consent – initial informed consent –
for the initial evaluation. And the parent must also give
informed consent for initial services. And from my understanding,
if it is not in writing, if a parent does not sign that
then the process will stop. It will not further or go past that point
unless you do have that written consent. Okay making a referral and request for an
evaluation: like I suggested, make it in writing and keep copies of it so that you know exactly
when that was implemented for your child. And explain your child’s problem and
why you feel the evaluation was needed. Share the information with school staff about
your child’s performance and your true concerns. You are the expert. You know where your child needs to be going. And keep the letter — try to keep
it to 1 page and keep bullet points. It’s really important to
have those bullet points so that you can have a little more clarification
of where you’re going in your thought process. Okay, some other requirements for an evaluation:
are the tests and evaluation materials given in the child’s native language
or in their way of communication? So if your child has a hearing or vision
impairment, they’re going to be tested in the way that they communicate. And also more than one test in a variety of
methods are used to gather this information. Be sure that your child is
assessed in all areas suspected to their disability: not just one specific area. We want to look at health, vision, hearing,
behavior, social and emotional status, general intelligence, academic performance, communication status and
also their motor skills. You want to be sure that
this test is measuring more than just their IQ or eligibility for services. It should be able to measure the
ability, the strengths, or achievement and not just their impaired skills. And be sure – which I’m positive this is going
to happen – but the test is going to be given by a trained and a knowledgeable personnel. So that brings us to understanding
this evaluation. It is so important to understand this evaluation
and the test that has been given to your child. What is the test measuring? Where is my child in comparison
to the norm overall? And how did my child score in subtests? I can recall sitting down with my
children going over their test results, and there were so many numbers and words used,
standard deviation, mean, and I just thought, “Am I supposed to understand these? Do I really know these?” No I don’t. And I was feeling a little apprehensive
to ask, but I’m so glad that I did because you know they’re there for you to help
you to understand where your child is and it was so informative for me to go over those
scores at a level that I could understand so I knew exactly where my child
was and what my boys really needed. What can your child do and what can’t they do? And what does this mean in terms of how my
child learns and how they will be taught? And did the evaluation assess
all of the educational needs? So what if you do not agree with
your child’s evaluation outcome? That brings us to the Independent
Educational Evaluation. Basically what this is, is at public expense if
the parents disagree with the agency’s outcome, they can request in writing an independent
educational evaluation to be done. The agency must initiate a
hearing to show if the evaluation – the initial evaluation – was
appropriate for the child. Or they can go ahead and
approve and pay for this IEE. And I want to suggest that if they do
approve it, it would be very important to probably ask the district for a list of
providers for you that you can already go to so you’re assured that it
is covered under that district. And if the public agency shows in their
hearing the initial evaluation was appropriate, you still may obtain this IEE, but
it will be at your own expense. It will not be paid by public expense. So parents should consider
requesting a functional, behavioral assessment before any
evaluation or reevaluation of their child, especially if your child has had some behaviors
that some past interventions have not worked. And the functional assessment looks at
why your child behaves why he or she does and given the nature of your child and what
is happening in their environment around them. So the functional assessment initially
should just lead to interventions that focus on more positive behavioral skills. So your student could qualify for
special education if he or she meets one or more of these categories
that are shown above here. And once qualified under these categories, your
student can receive services that are eligible to him or her to progress
towards their IEP goals. And as your looking over these
categories, you probably are familiar with some of these with your own children. You probably can point out some
of these for your own child. Under these 13 categories your child
can qualify under specific criteria in each of these specific categories. Yes, Linda?>>Are you aware that in IDEA 2004 specific
learning disabilities category was changed under now 3 different ways
that children can qualify for specific learning disabilities
under that category?>>Yes I was aware of that Linda and you can
find all that information under the category in this specific Special Education Rules book. And this will define specifically under the
category that you’re in question for your child. And if you are going to the school
and you’re in doubt in regards to the category, you can take this with you. If the teacher has questions or your
special educator, you can read over and review these categories so
that you are on the same page and you both have an understanding. This is just a preview of this
slide here of what is going to be in the next workshop just after this one. And this basically is from the evaluation we
determine these present levels of academic and functional performance
which lead to our IEP goals. So in the next workshop, we are going
to be talking about developing the IEP. So you’re going to want to stick around and
be very well informed from Jodi as she’s going to talk in this next segment
about developing the IEP.

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