***Post Written by Scott McGuire, Elections Chair for WSPA***
Change does not come quickly or easily for many people in education. In December 2009, the Wyoming Department of Education published a reevaluation for special education reference guide that laid out the purpose and procedure for completing a 3 year re-evaluation. When visiting with my colleagues and other district’s SPED directors, I am surprised at the number of school psychologists that continue to complete a comprehensive evaluation every 3 years.
The first step in every evaluation is a review of existing records, after the review of records the evaluator needs to determine what additional information is needed to determine if the student is being provided FAPE. The state recommends using their “assessment wheel” to facilitate the development of a comprehensive evaluation plan to determine if all the student’s needs are being met. The Wyoming Department of Education provided technical assistance in the form of a re-evaluation reference guide, with the following summary:
“Wyoming has adopted an approach to reevaluations that focuses on the child, whether the child continues to have a disability and continues to need special education, as well as the educational performance and future needs of the child. Each reevaluation will be unique based on the needs of the child. IEP teams must document in the Evaluation Report a process that address the determinations required by 34 C.F.R. §300.305(a). If the child has received special education and related services, but has not yet attained the skill level to be successful at State or grade level expectations, then this would be strong evidence that the child’s eligibility needs to be maintained. It is no longer necessary to re‐meet eligibility criteria.”
The key information to make a decision about if the student can perform adequately without support cannot be determined using test scores. This information can only be found by asking the right questions, building in independence into the student’s IEP, and reviewing the existing information. A good place to start is by asking the teacher, student, and parents if they continue to have concerns. Based on the stated concerns how are they being addressed? Would additional information in the form of an assessment, change how the IEP services would address the concerns? In most cases the IEP team has the knowledge and flexibility to add or change services based on the student’s needs.
Believe it or not, I have seen reevaluation reports where the school psychologist documents that the student continues to need SPED services in order to be successful, but they no longer qualify based on not re-meeting the eligibility criteria. I have also seen a student who was in SPED, worked hard independently, and did not need or use the SPED services but when I re-tested him, he continued to have low academic skills and would have continued to qualify. Through his hard work, he did not need or want the support, his parents and teachers also did not have concerns because of his work ethic and personality. So next time you do a re-evaluation ask yourself, “What relevant information will the test scores provide and will the student benefit from the evaluation?