WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Referral for Evaluation

Your child has been having difficulty in school and general interventions have not helped. You would like the school to evaluate your child to determine if they are eligible for special education services.

INITIATING AN EVALUATION
A parent, caregiver or educator may refer a student for an initial evaluation if they have concerns about a suspected disability or student’s development.

  • Sending a written referral for evaluation via email is recommended. There is no “right” language or format— just a few sentences outlining your concerns. 
  • The referral is typically sent to the school principal. Other school staff who are familiar with your child and your concerns — such as classroom teachers or guidance counselors — can be included on the email.
    • For preschool-age children, the referral is sent to the Needham Preschool Director, regardless of what preschool the child attends.
  • Within five school days of receiving the referral, the school will send you a written proposal, which must be signed and returned to the school. The evaluation cannot begin without parental consent. 

THE EVALUATION PROCESS
The student will be evaluated in all areas related to the suspected disability, and the evaluation will be tailored to the specific student.

  • The district has 30 school days to complete testing after receiving consent.
  • In addition to assessments, the evaluation may include: information provided by parents, observation, work samples, and interviews.
  • An initial eligibility meeting will be scheduled within 45 school days of receiving your consent to evaluate.
  • Parents can request copies of all evaluations. Evaluations must be made available at least two days prior to the meeting.

DETERMINING ELIGIBILITY
The evaluation will be used to determine if a student meets certain criteria, and is therefore eligible for special education.

  • A student must be determined to have a disability.
  • The disability must cause the student to not make effective progress in the general education program.
    • A lack of progress alone is NOT grounds for eligibility.
  • The student must be shown to require specially designed instruction or related services to access the general curriculum (adapting the content, methodology, delivery of instruction and/or performance). 
    • If a child only requires accommodations (changes to presentation or setting such as preferential seating or extra time on tests), they will NOT be found eligible for special education, but may be eligible for a 504 Plan instead.

Possible Outcomes of an Evaluation:


Your child is found eligible for special education services.
 

You will now work with a team of educators to develop an IEP (Individualized Education Program) for your child. The IEP will be updated every year, and your child will be re-evaluated every three years.


Your child is found NOT eligible of special education services.

There are several reasons a student may be found ineligible for special education:

  • The student does not have a disability
  • The student does not show a lack of progress
  • The student’s lack of progress is not due to the disability
  • The student does not require special education

If your student is not eligible for Special Education, he or she may be eligible for accommodation(s) for disability(ies) under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, or for other services in other programs. Your child’s teachers, guidance counselor, and/or principal can discuss these options with you.

If you disagree with the evaluation findings, you have the right to seek an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE). You can also appeal eligibility determinations to the Bureau of Special Educational Appeals. Please review the “Notice of Procedural Safeguards” for more information about parents’ rights.