How Parents of Children and Youth Are Involved in the Assessment Process
Addressing Parent Questions and Concerns
In the prereferral system for special education services, there is an assistance team consisting of regular classroom teachers and special educators in the school building meets to discuss parent or teacher concerns about a student’s behavior or academic work and, following a problem-solving approach, plans one or more interventions.
During the implementation of the intervention, the teacher or, when appropriate, the parent, carefully records its effectiveness. If the first intervention is not successful, the team will identify and implement additional interventions and record the results.
Screening Questions and Decisions
The law mandates screening for all students enrolling in school for the first time and for students who move into a new school district. During the child’s school career, teachers will contact parents regarding their concerns or parents can contact school personnel with their questions as the Snapshot of Alexandra illustrates. Physicians, too, refer a student for evaluation.
Teachers should encourage parents to discuss any questions or concerns that they have throughout the school year. Teachers can assist parents by asking informal questions such as, “What would be helpful for me to know about Alexandra?” or leading questions such as, “Tell me what Alexandra likes to do at home.”
Referral and Decisions for the Team
When questions about a student persist, the student assistance team completes a written referral form and forwards the referral to the coordinator of the special services team. This team consists of the student’s parents, school personnel, and the student, when possible. The team may be known as the IEP team or child study team.
The special services team receives the formal referral delineating questions about the student, which comes directly from the child’s parents, teachers, student assistance team, or the student, who may self-refer. The special services team makes decisions regarding assessment procedures and develops an assessment plan. This plan describes questions the team is trying to answer about the student’s special needs, the tests and procedures the team will use, and the individuals who will complete the assessments. The parent or guardian must sign a written permission before the assessment process begins. As team members, parents contribute information to this process. They may provide copies of medical records and/or educational reports. Parents frequently add observations of the student at home and in the community. They also assist the team in gathering information by using informal tools such as checklists, rating scales, or video recordings.
Eligibility Questions and Decisions
In this step of the assessment process the team addresses the following questions: Does the student meet the criteria for a disability? Does the student need special education to learn and to develop? Parents and other team members must decide if the student’s special needs meet the eligibility requirements as described in IDEA.
The IEP team plans an individual assessment to determine if the child has a disability and to determine what the educational needs of the child are. The child is assessed in all areas related to the suspected disability, including:
- Social and emotional status
- General intelligence
- Academic performance
- Motor abilities
The information collected during the assessment process determines the decisions regarding eligibility. Parents provide helpful information and a unique perspective.
Parents can provide information informally through discussions or contribute information on a standardized instrument. There are numerous instruments that solicit parent information as part of the profile. An example of one of these instruments is the Child Behavior Checklist (Achenbach, 2001).
© ______ 2007, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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