When a child exhibits learning or behavior difficulties, teachers first try to determine whether systematic changes to instruction or other aspects of the learning environment are sufficient to address them. For many children these minor changes are enough. For others, though, this process leads to a formal referral to be evaluated for special education services.
|Referall||The student is referred for a formal evaluation, usually by school personnel or her parents. The student’s parents must give written, informed consent. That is, they must understand that they are allowing their child to be evaluated to determine whether she has a disability that affects educational performance.|
Timeline: The evaluation must be conducted within 60 days of receiving parental consent or within state established timelines.
|This initial comprehensive, individualized assessment of the student is conducted in all areas of concern, including both academic and functional performance.|
The data collected during this step form the foundation upon which the IEP will be developed. As such, its importance cannot be overstated.
|Eligibility Determination||At this point, the student’s evaluation results are reviewed with an eye toward answering a pair of key questions:|
*Does the student have a disability?
*Does that disability affect the student’s academic and/or functional performance to such an extent that she requires special education services?
If the answer to both these questions is “yes,” the student is considered eligible for special education services.
Timeline: The meeting must be conducted within 30 days of the eligibility determination.
|When a student meets the eligibility criteria, the IEP team develops the IEP. The IEP team determines and documents:|
* The student’s academic and/or functional needs, as identified in the evaluation
* Measurable annual goals that are reasonably calculated to enable the student to make meaningful progress
* The services and supports the student will receive, and:Which education professional(s) will provide them
*The frequency and duration of services
*The setting(s) in which the services will be delivered, sometimes referred to as placement
*The method and timeframe for monitoring the student’s progress
*The mode and frequency for communicating the student’s progress to her parents
Timeline: The implementation must take place as soon as possible after the IEP is developed.
|Education professionals provide the special education supports and services to the student as outlined in the IEP. If the student does not make appropriate progress, the IEP team meets to determine possible reasons for her lack of progress, and makes adjustments accordingly.|
Timeline: The annual review must occur within 12 months following the development of the previous IEP.
|The student’s progress toward meeting her IEP goals is to be evaluated annually, unless the IEP team and the student’s parents agree otherwise. At this time, the student’s current performance, progress, needs, and placement are revisited and her IEP updated accordingly.|
Timeline: The re-evaluation must occur at least once every three years.
|The student must be re-evaluated every three years, unless the IEP team members and the student’s parents agree otherwise. The purpose of the re-evaluation is to determine whether she is still eligible for and requires special education services. This usually entails another comprehensive, individualized evaluation (see Evaluation Step).|