If, after interventions in the general education classroom, the student continues to experience difficulty, school personnel may refer the child for a special education evaluation. Referrals for determination of eligibility for special education services may be initiated by:
The official referral begins the formal process of determining eligibility for special education services. Once a referral is provided, the school must obtain consent from the parent(s) or legal guardian(s) to begin the evaluation phase of the referral process.
The state requires that students referred for special education services receive a nondiscriminatory multi-factored evaluation. TEECS will complete the evaluation within 60 days of the referral date. The evaluation is to be conducted by a multidisciplinary team that will consist of individuals who can bring different perspectives and expertise to the evaluation. Some examples of team members include:
Within 30 days of the completion of the evaluation, the individuals that took part in the process thus far will meet to determine eligibility. In simple terms, a student is considered eligible for special education services if (1) the child has a disability which negatively impacts his/her educational performance, and (2) the child needs special education services in order to benefit from education.
Not all students are determined to be eligible for special education services. There are multiple reasons why a student may not qualify for special education services including not having a disability that negatively impacts his or her education. However, these students may need help to access the academic curricula. In these situations, the school will need to work out a plan to provide other services for the student.
If the team determines that the student is eligible for special education services, then a formal Individualized Education Program (IEP) team will be formed to develop a plan of special education services for the student.
The Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a legal contract between the parents and the school district that describes the special education services to be provided by the school district. While IEP documents vary, the basic parts of an IEP include:
A student profile that provides background information about the student. The profile will include strengths and weaknesses of the student, information regarding performance in the classroom and on formal assessments, and the reason he or she is receiving special education services.
IEP initiation and duration dates: the goals expressly stated in an IEP begin on the date, stated in the IEP meeting, and are in effect until the date stated in the IEP. These IEP goals are reviewed, monitored and updated based on student progress. For most students, IEP goals are in place for one academic year.
The IEP team is composed of the following:
Once the IEP is developed and signed by members of the IEP team it is the responsibility ofthe entire IEP team to ensure that the IEP is implemented. The IEP team may meet as frequently as needed to discuss the implementation of the IEP. The IEP document is a “living” document and can be altered during the school term if needed.
Each year, the IEP team is required to meet for the dual purpose of evaluating the implementation of the current IEP and to develop the next annual IEP. During these annual meetings, the IEP team should discuss the positive and negative elements of the special education services provided and determine, based on any new assessment data, what services should be provided in the upcoming school year.
While the IEP is redeveloped each year, the IEP team does not have to conduct the battery of assessments each year. At a minimum, the IEP team is to determine if formal evaluation is required every three years.
There are times when, after the reevaluation takes place, it is determined that the student does not need special education services. One example of this might be young children who are provided speech and language services and have developed the ability to speak without problems. In this case, the IEP team will need to file appropriate documentation to support the fact that the student no longer is eligible for services and the IEP team will disband forthis student.