As I stated in a previous blog post, “When a school district completes a (Re) Evaluation Report, they tend to focus on speed (finishing within state mandated timelines), rather than thoroughness (finding every single disability that your child may have), to avoid being sanctioned by the state, and to reduce the cost of services they have to provide. Therefore, you as a parent need to take an active role in helping make the (Re) evaluation report as thorough as possible. There are several ways that you can do this”. This post will try and list as many things as possible that you can do to help make your child’s (Re) Evaluation Report more thorough.

School correspondence – Review emails and other written documentation you have received from the school. You would be surprised how often a staff member will report “no problems” in a meeting, when there are multiple pieces of written evidence that reveal a pattern of time on task issues.

Classroom teacher – Ask your child’s teacher questions (in person or in email) about their progress and needs. Take good notes and then discuss this information in the (Re) Evaluation meeting. Even though team meetings are supposed to be an open dialogue, some teachers feel intimidated in this situation, and don’t share everything they know.

Classroom observation – Ask to do a formal observation of your child in class. For a variety of reasons, your observation may catch a lot more concerns than the school would have self-reported in the (Re) Evaluation meeting. Try to gather specific, measurable data. For example, count the number of times your child: is out of his seat; is talking to a peer; is not completing his assignment; etc. This specific data is hard to argue with in a meeting, and it helps to develop a clear path forward.

File review – As I stated in a previous blog post, “If you need to review any documentation in your child’s school file to prepare for the meeting, issue a written request to your principal asking to review the file at least 5 days in advance of the meeting so that you can “meaningfully participate” in the scheduled meeting”. A file review can turn up a wealth of evidence. For example:
Progress reports – look for specific teacher statements, or patterns of one score being lower.
Progress monitoring – Does specific data exist that shows (lack of) progress? The school is obligated to collect.
Report cards – Review specific statements, and a pattern of grades (test scores always lower than class
assignments; low scores on written assignments; etc.)
State tests – Are these scores consistent with school grades?
Past IEP’s – What concerns were listed here? Is there evidence that these concerns no longer exist.
Behavior logs – Is there a pattern of behavior (i.e. behavior always occurs in unstructured settings like lunch room).
Nurses logs – Is the nurse aware of all your child’s medical needs? Is there a lot of trips to the nurse?
Speech and/or OT logs – What is your child working on? How often are they working on it? How are they doing? I remember one case where we showed the student
was only working on each speech goal once per month, so we argued (and won) for more speech sessions.

Review reports – As I stated in a previous blog post, You should receive a copy of all evaluation reports 5 days in advance of the meeting. Read each one carefully:
Do you understand everything that is written? For example, do you know the difference between auditory processing and sensory processing? Do you know how a deficit in each area would affect your child’s classroom performance? Send the psychologist an email asking what the specific diagnostic terms mean, and to list 3 classroom activities where a low score would make the assignment more difficult. It will be much easier for you to participate in the meeting if you fully understand your child’s needs.
Do you agree with everything that is listed – If not, are you more comfortable emailing your objections in ahead of time, or raising them at the meeting? Going back to my posts on strategy, if the written teacher report contradicts the same teachers prior written statements, do you want to address those discreetly, or throw the teacher under the bus at the meeting? Consider the consequences of your decision carefully.
Do you have additional information that was not included

Private Provider Input – You have the right, if you so choose, to share information from your private providers (doctor’s, therapists, etc.) with the school. Please keep in mind that the documentation has to show 2 things. One, your child has a disability. Two, that disability impacts upon their education. For example, if you provide documentation that your child walks with a limp, but your school schedules all of his classes in adjoining rooms, the school will argue that the limp doesn’t impact on his learning. Therefore, it is a “medical diagnosis”, which means, they don’t have to provide remediation. If your child has ADHD, provide documentation, and argue how it impacts upon their learning. If your child receives a specific reading therapy outside of school, provide documentation of their progress, and argue how switching to another reading program would be detrimental. If your child receives private ABA therapy, provide documentation and argue what will happen to your child’s progress if the school doesn’t continue to provide this service.

Again, as stated in a previous blog post,
Because the parent is an equal member of the team, you have the right and the obligation to your child to take part in the gathering of the data for the team’s consideration.

Any data in the (Re) Evaluation report can be used to argue for or against IEP services. Any data not in the report can’t be used to argue for IEP services.

When a school district completes a (Re) Evaluation Report, they tend to focus on speed rather than thoroughness.

Please keep all of these facts in mind when participating in the (Re) Evaluation process.

About speak45_wp

I graduated from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania in 1990 with a Bachelor’s in Special Education, and again in 1991 with a Master’s in Behavior Disorders. From 1991 to 2004, I worked as an Emotional Support Teacher in Southeast Pennsylvania. In July, 2004, upon graduation from Penn State University, I began working as a Pennsylvania Supervisor of Special Education until, shortly after my family and I moved to Maryland in October, 2013. In my 25 years of experience, I have: worked with students of varying ages and disabilities; participated in hundreds of IEP meetings; successfully implemented individualized services for thousands of students; and participated in dozens of due process cases. As a result, I am very familiar with the public education Special Education system policies, procedures, and services; as well as the potential road blocks parents may encounter in search for those services. In addition to my professional experience, I am also the father of two boys on the Autistic Spectrum. I know all too well what it feels like to: receive that diagnosis for the first time; work to learn all that you can about your child’s unique learning needs; try and educate and motivate school staff; passionately advocate for services (FAPE); get over emotional in IEP meetings; and fight vehemently with the school system to get the services you feel that your child deserves.