IDENTIFICATION AND EVALUATION OF INDIVIDUALS FOR AR 6164.4(a)
Referrals for Special Education Services
A student shall be referred for special education instruction and services only after the resources of the regular education program have been considered and used where appropriate. (Education Code 56303)
All referrals from school staff for special education and related services shall include a brief reason for the referral and description of the regular program resources that were considered and/or modified for use with the student and their effect. (5 CCR 3021)
Initial Evaluation for Special Education Services
Before the initial provision of special education and related services to a student with a disability, the district shall conduct a full and individual initial evaluation of the student. (Education Code 56320; 34 CFR 300.301)
Upon receipt of a referral of any student for special education and related services, a proposed evaluation plan shall be developed within 15 days, not counting days between the student’s regular school sessions or terms or days of school vacation in excess of five school days, unless the parent/guardian agrees, in writing, to an extension. If the referral is made within 10 days or less prior to the end of the student’s regular school year or term, the proposed evaluation plan shall be developed within 10 days after the beginning of the next regular school year or term. (Education Code 56043, 56321)
The proposed evaluation plan shall meet all of the following requirements: (Education Code 56321)
- Be in a language easily understood by the general public
- Be provided in the native language of the parent/guardian or other mode of communication used by the parent/guardian unless it is clearly not feasible
- Explain the types of evaluation to be conducted
- State that no individualized education program (IEP) will result from the evaluation without parent/guardian consent
Before conducting an initial evaluation, the district shall provide the parent/guardian with prior written notice in accordance with 34 CFR 300.503. In addition, as part of the evaluation plan, the parent/guardian shall receive written notice that includes all of the following information: (Education Code 56329; 34 CFR 300.304, 300.504)
- Upon completion of the administration of tests and other evaluation materials, an IEP team meeting that includes the parent/guardian or his/her representative shall be scheduled pursuant to Education Code 56341. At this meeting, the team shall determine whether or not the student is a student with disabilities, as defined in Education Code 56026, and shall discuss the evaluation, the educational recommendations, and the reasons for the recommendations.
- When making a determination of eligibility for special education, the district shall not determine that the student is disabled if the primary factor for such determination is lack of appropriate instruction in reading, including the essential components of reading instruction as defined in 20 USC 6368, lack of appropriate instruction in mathematics, or limited English proficiency.
- A copy of the evaluation report and the documentation of determination of eligibility shall be given to the parent/guardian.
- If the parent/guardian disagrees with an evaluation obtained by the district, he/she has the right to obtain, at public expense, an independent educational evaluation (IEE) of the student from qualified specialists, in accordance with 34 CFR 300.502. The parent/guardian is entitled to only one such evaluation at public expense each time the district conducts an assessment with which the parent/guardian disagrees.
If the district observed the student in conducting its evaluation, or if its evaluation procedures make it permissible to have in-class observation of the student, an equivalent opportunity shall apply to the IEE. This equivalent opportunity shall apply to the student’s current placement and setting as well as observation of the district’s proposed placement and setting, if any, regardless of whether the IEE is initiated before or after the filing of a due process hearing proceeding.
- The district may initiate a due process hearing pursuant to Education Code 56500-56508 to show that its evaluation is appropriate. If the final decision resulting from the due process hearing is that the evaluation is appropriate, the parent/guardian maintains the right for an IEE, but not at public expense.
If the parent/guardian obtains an IEE at private expense, the results of the IEE shall be considered by the district with respect to the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to the student, and may be presented as evidence at a due process hearing regarding the student. If the district observed the student in conducting its evaluation, or if its evaluation procedures make it permissible to have in-class observation of a student, an equivalent opportunity shall apply to an IEE of the student in the student’s current educational placement and setting and in any educational placement and setting proposed by the district, regardless of whether the IEE is initiated before or after the filing of a due process hearing.
- If the parent/guardian proposes a publicly financed placement of the student in a nonpublic school, the district shall have an opportunity to observe the proposed placement and, if the student has already been unilaterally placed in the nonpublic school by his/her parent/guardian, the student in that proposed placement. Any such observation shall only be of the student who is the subject of the observation and shall not include the observation or evaluation of any other student in the proposed placement unless that other student’s parent/guardian consents to the observation or evaluation. The results of any observation or evaluation of another student in violation of Education Code 56329(d) shall be inadmissible in any due process or judicial proceeding regarding FAPE of that other student.
Parent/Guardian Consent for Evaluations
Upon receiving the proposed evaluation plan, the parent/guardian shall have at least 15 days to decide whether or not to consent to the initial evaluation. The district shall not interpret parent/guardian consent for initial evaluation as consent for initial placement or initial provision of special education services. (Education Code 56321; 34 CFR 300.300)
Informed parental consent means that the parent/guardian: (Education Code 56021.1; 34 CFR 300.9)
- Has been fully informed, in his/her native language or other mode of communication, of all information relevant to the activity for which consent is sought
- Understands and agrees, in writing, to the carrying out of the activity for which his/her consent is sought and the consent describes that activity and lists the records (if any) that will be released and to whom
- Understands that the granting of consent is voluntary on his/her part and may be revoked at any time
- Understands that if he/she revokes consent, that revocation is not retroactive (i.e., it does not negate an action that has occurred after the consent was given and before the consent was revoked)
The district shall make reasonable efforts to obtain the informed consent of the parent/guardian for an initial evaluation or reevaluation of a student. The district shall maintain a record of its attempts to obtain consent, including: (Education Code 56321, 56341.5; 34 CFR 300.300, 300.322)
- Detailed records of telephone calls made or attempted and the results of those calls
- Copies of correspondence sent to the parent/guardian and any responses received
- Detailed records of visits made to the parent/guardian’s home or place of employment and the results of those visits
If a parent/guardian refuses to consent to the initial evaluation or fails to respond to a request to provide consent, the district may, but is not required to, pursue an evaluation by utilizing the procedural safeguards, including the mediation and due process procedures pursuant to 20 USC 1415 and 34 CFR 300.506-300.516. (Education Code 56321; 34 CFR 300.300)
For a student who is a ward of the state and not residing with his/her parent/guardian, the district may conduct an initial evaluation without obtaining informed consent if any of the following situations exists: (Education Code 56321.1; 20 USC 1414; 34 CFR 300.300)
- Despite reasonable efforts to do so, the district cannot discover the whereabouts of the parent/guardian of the student.
- The rights of the parent/guardian of the student have been terminated in accordance with California law.
- The rights of the parent/guardian to make educational decisions have been subrogated by a judge in accordance with California law and consent for an initial evaluation has been given by an individual appointed by the judge to represent the student.
The district need not obtain parent/guardian consent before reviewing existing data as part of an evaluation or administering a test or other evaluation that is administered to all students, unless consent is required from the parents/guardians of all students. (Education Code 56321; 34 CFR 300.300)
Conduct of the Evaluation
The district shall complete the determination as to whether the student is a student with a disability, conduct the initial evaluation to determine his/her educational needs, and develop an IEP within 60 days of receiving informed parent/guardian consent for the evaluation. (Education Code 56344; 34 CFR 300.300, 300.301)
The evaluation shall be conducted by qualified personnel who are competent to perform the assessment as determined by the district. (Education Code 56320, 56322)
The screening of a student by a teacher or specialist to determine appropriate instructional strategies for curriculum implementation shall not be considered to be an evaluation for eligibility for special education and related services. (34 CFR 300.302)
In conducting the evaluation, the district shall use a variety of assessment tools and strategies to gather relevant functional, developmental, and academic information about the student. The district shall also use any information provided by the parent/guardian that may assist the district in making the determination as to whether the student is a student with a disability and, if so, the necessary components of his/her IEP when the IEP is developed, including information related to enabling the student to be involved in and to progress in the general education curriculum. (34 CFR 300.304)
The district’s evaluation shall not use any single measure or assessment as the sole criterion for determining whether a student is a student with a disability and for determining the appropriate educational program for the student. The assessment shall use technically sound instruments that may assess the relative contribution of cognitive and behavioral factors in addition to physical or developmental factors. (34 CFR 300.304)
The district shall also ensure that assessments and other evaluation materials provide relevant information that assists in determining the student’s educational needs and are: (Education Code 56320; 34 CFR 300.304)
- Selected and administered so as not to be discriminatory on a racial, cultural, or sexual basis
- Provided and administered in the language and form most likely to yield accurate information on what the student knows and can do academically, developmentally, and functionally, unless it is clearly not feasible to so provide or administer
- Used for the purposes for which the assessments or measures are valid and reliable
- Administered by trained and knowledgeable personnel
- Administered in accordance with any instructions provided by the producer of the assessments
- Tailored to assess specific areas of educational need and not merely designed to provide a single general intelligence quotient
- If administered to a student with impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills, selected and administered to best ensure that the results accurately reflect the student’s aptitude or achievement level or whatever other factors the test purports to measure
Students shall be assessed in all areas related to the suspected disability, including, if appropriate, health and development, vision (including low vision), hearing, motor abilities, language function, general intelligence, academic performance, communicative status, self-help, orientation and mobility skills, career and vocational abilities and interests, and social and emotional status. When appropriate, a developmental history shall be obtained. The district shall ensure that the evaluation is sufficiently comprehensive to identify all of the student’s special education and related service needs, whether or not commonly linked to the disability category in which the student has been classified. (Education Code 56320; 34 CFR 300.304)
As part of the initial evaluation and any reevaluation, the IEP team and other qualified professionals shall, if appropriate, review existing evaluation data on the student, including evaluations and information provided by the parents/guardians, current classroom-based local or state assessments and classroom-based observations, and observations by teachers and related services providers. On the basis of that review and input from the student’s parent/guardian, the team shall identify what additional data, if any, are needed to determine: (Education Code 56381; 34 CFR 300.305)
- Whether the student is a student with a disability, or in the case of a reevaluation, whether the student continues to have a disability, and the educational needs of the student
- The present levels of academic achievement and related developmental needs of the student
- Whether the student needs, or continues to need, special education and related services
- Whether any additions or modifications to the special education and related services are needed to enable the student to meet the measurable annual goals set out in his/her IEP and to participate, as appropriate, in the general education curriculum
If a student has transferred from another district in the same school year or leaves this district, the district shall coordinate with the student’s prior or subsequent district as necessary and as expeditiously as possible to ensure prompt completion of full evaluations. (34 CFR 300.304)
Upon completion of the administration of assessments and other evaluation measures, a group of qualified professionals and the parent/guardian shall determine whether the student is a student with a disability and, if so, his/her educational needs. In interpreting the data, the group shall draw information from a variety of sources, including aptitude and achievement tests, parent/guardian input, and teacher recommendations, as well as information about the student’s physical condition, social or cultural background, and adaptive behavior. The group shall ensure that the information obtained from these sources is documented and carefully considered. (34 CFR 300.306)
The personnel who evaluate the student shall prepare a written report of the results of each evaluation. The report shall include, but not be limited to, the following: (Education Code 56327)
- Whether the student may need special education and related services
- The basis for making the determination
- The relevant behavior noted during the observation of the student in an appropriate setting
- The relationship of that behavior to the student’s academic and social functioning
- The educationally relevant health, developmental, and medical findings, if any
- For students with learning disabilities, whether there is such a discrepancy between achievement and ability that it cannot be corrected without special education and related services
- A determination concerning the effects of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage, where appropriate
- The need for specialized services, materials, and equipment for students with low incidence disabilities, consistent with Education Code 56136
When making a determination of eligibility for special education and related services, the district shall not determine that a student is disabled if the primary factor for such determination is a lack of appropriate instruction in reading, including the essential components of reading instruction pursuant to 20 USC 6368, lack of instruction in mathematics, limited English proficiency, or that the student does not otherwise meet the eligibility criteria. (Education Code 56329; 34 CFR 300.306)
If a determination is made that a student has a disability and needs special education and related services, an IEP shall be developed within a total time not to exceed 60 days, not counting days between the student’s regular school sessions or terms or days of school vacation in excess of five school days, from the date of the receipt of the parent/guardian’s consent for evaluation, unless the parent/guardian agrees, in writing, to an extension. (Education Code 56043; 34 CFR 300.306)
Independent Educational Evaluation
The parents/guardians of a student with a disability have the right to obtain an IEE at public expense under the same criteria that the district uses for a district-initiated evaluation. An independent educational evaluation is an evaluation conducted by a qualified examiner who is not employed by the district. Public expense means the district either pays for the full cost of the IEE or ensures that the evaluation is otherwise provided at no cost to the parent/guardian. (Education Code 56329; 34 CFR 300.502)
The parent/guardian is entitled to only one IEE at public expense each time the district conducts an evaluation with which the parent/guardian disagrees. (Education Code 56329; 34 CFR 300.502)
If a parent/guardian has requested an IEE, the district may ask for the reason that he/she objects to the district’s evaluation. However, the parent/guardian is not required to provide the reason to the district. (34 CFR 300.502)
Upon receiving the request for an IEE, the district shall, without unnecessary delay, either: (34 CFR 300.502)
- File a due process complaint to request a hearing to show that its evaluation is appropriate
- Ensure that an IEE is provided at public expense, unless the district can later demonstrate at a hearing that the evaluation obtained by the parent/guardian did not satisfy the district’s criteria
If a due process hearing decision determines that the district’s evaluation is appropriate, then the parent/guardian may obtain an IEE but not at public expense. (34 CFR 300.502)
In any decision made with respect to providing FAPE to a student with a disability, the result of any IEE obtained by the student’s parent/guardian shall be considered by the district if it meets district criteria. Any such result also may be presented as evidence at a hearing on a due process complaint. (34 CFR 300.502)
A reevaluation shall be conducted when the district determines that the educational or related service needs of the student, including improved academic achievement and functional performance, warrant a reevaluation or if the student’s parent/guardian or teacher requests reevaluation. Such reevaluations shall occur every three years, unless the parent/guardian and district agree in writing that a reevaluation is unnecessary. A reevaluation may not occur more than once a year, unless the parent/guardian and the district agree otherwise. (Education Code 56043, 56381; 34 CFR 300.303)
The district shall ensure that any reevaluations of the student are conducted in accordance with the evaluation procedures pursuant to 34 CFR 300.304-300.311. (34 CFR 300.303)
Before entering kindergarten or first grade, children with disabilities who are in a preschool program shall be reevaluated to determine if they still need special education and services. IEP teams shall identify a means of monitoring the continued success of children who are determined to be eligible for less intensive special education programs to ensure that gains made are not lost by a rapid removal of individualized programs and supports for these children. (Education Code 56445)