Identifying Students with Special Needs During the School Years
Most students with special needs are not recognized as requiring special education and related services until they are in elementary school. In this article we provide a detailed look at the process by which these children are identified and how they are served during the school years. As we present this information, keep in mind that while federal laws apply to all school districts and schools in the United States, state and local laws may also be applied, and they may vary. Therefore, as a new teacher, whether in special education or general education, you should familiarize yourself with local policies that address referral and placement procedures for students with special needs.
Identification through Parents, Teachers, and Screening
During the early elementary school years, school officials might recognize a child as a possible candidate for special education services in different ways. In many cases, parents may feel their child is having difficulty and discuss this issue with the teacher. This discussion might lead to a formal evaluation that may confirm that the child is eligible for special education services. Even without input from a parent, the teacher may recognize that the child is having learning or behavioral difficulties and request a formal evaluation. If this occurs, the school notifies the parents to ask for their consent to allow the evaluation process to begin.
Additionally, most school districts use screening tests to find children who might have special needs. These screenings look for academic or learning problems, behavioral problems, or sensory or physical needs of young children. It is important to note that large-scale screening procedures are only intended to help identify students who potentially have special needs. The testing instruments used for screenings do not possess the technical qualities that would allow a definitive determination to be made about a student's eligibility for special services. For this to occur, only an individual evaluation procedure can be used.
© ______ 2008, 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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