Parental Participation in the Assessment Process
Once the CST has made a formal referral for assessment to the MDT for a child with a suspected disability, the parents need to be asked to provide pertinent background information that will assist in the assessment process. The participation of the parents is crucial to this process.
Whereas designing, conducting, interpreting, and paying for the assessment are the school system's responsibilities, parents have an important part to play before, during, and after the evaluation. There is a range of ways in which parents may involve themselves in the assessment of their child. The extent of their involvement, however, is a personal decision and will vary from family to family. Waterman (1994) lists parental options, responsibilities, and expectations prior to an assessment for a suspected disability:
- Parents may initiate the assessment process by requesting that the school system evaluate their child for the presence of a disability and the need for special education.
- Parents must be notified by the school, and give their consent, before any initial evaluation of the child may be conducted.
- Parents may wish to talk with the professional responsible for conducting the evaluation to find out what the evaluation will involve.
- Parents may find it very useful to become informed about assessment issues in general and any specific issues relevant to their child (e.g., assessment of minority children, use of specific tests or assessment techniques with a specific disability).
- Parents should advocate for a comprehensive evaluation of their child—one that investigates all skill areas apparently affected by the suspected disability and that uses multiple means of collecting information (e.g., observations, interviews, alternative approaches).
- Parents may suggest specific questions to the MDT they would like to see addressed through the assessment.
- Parents should inform the MDT of any accommodations the child will need (e.g., removing time limits from tests, conducting interviews/testing in the child's native language, adapting testing environment to child's specific physical and other needs).
- Parents should inform the MDT if they themselves need an interpreter or other accommodations during any of their discussions with the school.
- Parents may prepare their child for the assessment process, explaining what will happen and, where necessary, reducing the child's anxiety. It may help the child to know that he or she will not be receiving a "grade" on the tests.
- Parents need to share with the MDT their insights into the child's background (developmental, medical, and academic) and past and present school performance.
- Parents may wish to share with the MDT any prior school records, reports, tests, or evaluation information available on their child.
- Parents may need to share information about cultural differences that can illuminate the MDT's understanding of the student.
- Parents need to make every effort to attend interviews the MDT may set up with them and provide information about their child.
© ______ 2006, 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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