Did you know that evaluations and assessments are different when it comes to your special education child? While these terms may seem synonymous, it is vital to recognize their legal differences in order to get your child an appropriate education with the ideal helps that your local school district can provide. Plus, thoroughly understanding these terms can help you determine whether your school district is following the law or is failing your child in some way.
First, the evaluation is what the school district does for your child, typically every one to three years, to determine whether he or she can receive special education services. The evaluation is provided because of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. If a child receives a positive evaluation showing that he or she needs special education services, an IEP will be written.
Second, the assessment is a medical test or a series of medical tests performed by a healthcare professional to determine what physical, mental, social and emotional needs your child has. These tests may check physical concerns, such as fine motor skills or visual impairments, social or emotional concerns, such as anxiety, learning disabilities, behavioral concerns and others if needed.
All of the parts of the assessment should be brought together to create a complete evaluation. To get a complete assessment, your child may need to be seen by a variety of healthcare professionals, including physicians, psychiatrists, occupational therapists and others. It is the school district’s legal responsibility to see and address all disabilities that the child has. If the school district fails to recognize even one particular need, it has legally failed to uphold the child’s special education needs. Therefore, even if your child is approved for special education services in one area, if a second area is missed, the school district has been remiss, and you have recourse for action.