60 days and counting

What to expect during your child’s evaluation period

In April’s column, I wrote about what might happen if you are told that your child’s educational team wants to refer your child for an evaluation.   

After you sign an agreement to have the evaluation done, the team will have 60 days to complete that initial comprehensive evaluation.

It is a reasonable amount of time for it to be completed, but a number of things can happen during the school year to affect the timeline. Your child could be out of school sick for a number of days, or there could be field trips or assemblies that interrupt the daily schedule. Also, at this time of year, the school could be involved in yearly district-wide testing or state testing. If that’s going on, it would be difficult for your child to also be engaged in a comprehensive evaluation.

Once the “legal clock” starts ticking on these evaluations, it can not be interrupted, so thought and care need to go into the timing.

What should you and your child expect when testing begins? There will be a various people involved in the testing, including the school psychologist, speech pathologist, school nurse, special educator and classroom teacher. It can be stressful for your child to meet and work with many new people, so it is good for you to have conversations about who your child will be meeting and working with prior to the start of the testing.

It’s a good idea to let the team know of any specific fears or anxieties your child may be having about the testing, so they can help manage them.

The team will coordinate so that they are not vying for your child’s time on the same days. There will be a lot of planning within the 60 days so everyone’s schedules can be accommodated, but more importantly, so that the team gets the best test performance out of your child.

Remember that the team must also have the reports written within the 60 days, so that has to be considered when planning the schedule as well.

Once the evaluation is completed and the reports have been sent to you for your review, you will meet with the team to go over the results.

Each member of the team will present his or her evaluation to the team based on their specialty. The classroom observation will be reviewed, which is usually done by the special educator on the team. Any information the team requested from your child’s physician would be reviewed at this time, too.

Once everyone has presented the results, the team will discuss what the results mean in terms of your child’s educational strengths and areas of need. The team will review eligibility considerations and will make recommendations. Team members will then be asked to sign an agreement of the final eligibility decision. If any member of the team does not agree, they may sign in disagreement and submit a dissenting opinion.

Elizabeth Feingold retired from Kearsarge Regional School District, where she worked for over 30 years as a special education teacher and coordinator at the elementary, middle and high school levels.

More Learning Curve columns by Liz Feingold

Know before you go

What to expect at a disposition-of referral or evaluation meeting

Remembering my father, my teacher

Reflecting on the lessons he taught me everyday through his actions

Managing anxiety

Students can succeed with a treatment plan and support

The job of the advocate

To best serve the special education student, it takes time
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