A referral for a special education assessment can originate from a parent/guardian or the school site team at any point in time. Such a referral may be presented in written or verbal form. Upon receiving a referral for assessment, it is imperative for the school site team to create an Assessment Plan within 15 days. Nevertheless, we strongly encourage collaboration with families through the SST process before this deadline, as it allows for a thorough discussion of concerns and helps identify areas where a disability may be suspected, thus enabling the development of a comprehensive assessment plan.
Through constructive collaboration with the school site team, some families might reconsider their request if it becomes apparent that the student's needs can be adequately addressed with alternative interventions. If they opt for reconsideration, this should be formally communicated via a written request. Should the assessment proceed, obtaining parental consent within 15 days of parents receiving the assessment plan is necessary to initiate the assessment.
From the day a signed assessment plan is received, school site teams have a timeframe of 60 days to conclude the assessment and assemble an Individualized Education Program (IEP) team meeting for the review of the evaluation results.
Eligibility for Special Education
Following the administration of tests and other evaluation materials, the determination of whether a student qualifies as an individual with a disability is a collaborative decision made by the IEP Team, which includes the child's parents and assessment personnel. The IEP Team conducts a comprehensive assessment, taking into account all relevant information available about the student. It is important to note that no single score or set of scores is used as the sole criterion for this determination. Furthermore, the assessment must be conducted by qualified personnel who are proficient in the child's primary language or mode of communication and possess an understanding of the student's cultural and ethnic background.
The assessment process encompasses three primary factors:
- Does the student meet the eligibility criteria as an individual with a disability?
- Does the severity of the disability adversely affect the student's educational performance?
- Does the student require special education and related services?
In accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the California Code of Regulations (34 CFR 300.306), a child should not be identified as a child with a disability if their educational needs are primarily attributed to:
- Insufficient or inappropriate reading instruction, including the fundamental components of reading instruction.
- Lack of math instruction.
- Limited proficiency in the English language.
- Temporary physical disabilities.
- Social maladjustment.
- Environmental, cultural, or economic factors.
- Limited or poor school attendance.