What do I do if I have a concern about my child’s progress?
When a parent has concerns about a child’s progress in school, the first step must be to contact the child’s teacher or teachers. Classroom teachers are the professionals who are most intimately involved in the child’s education. Close collaboration between home and school is essential for student success. By raising concerns and working together, teachers and parents lay a foundation for a working relationship that will help children experience success.

How do I ask for special help?
Parent-teacher communication will often help resolve a student’s difficulties. However, sometimes the parent and/or teacher feel that additional support for the child is needed. Federal regulations require schools to try various strategies before considering evaluation for Special Education services. A process called the Student Assistance Team (SAT) provides a problem-solving structure during which parents and educators develop specific plans and goals to address concerns. Many times, the interventions developed through the SAT will be successful. When the child’s progress is less than expected despite these interventions, an evaluation for special education eligibility may be the next step.

What is a Special Education evaluation?
An evaluation for Special Education eligibility is conducted to determine if (a) the child has a disability as defined by federal law, and (b) the child’s educational needs related to the disability require specialized intervention that can only be provided through special education services. Parents must agree to an evaluation by giving written consent. Parents must be provided procedural safeguards, called Parental Rights in Special Education, prior to the start of an evaluation.

What happens during the evaluation?
After the evaluation is completed, a meeting is scheduled. This meeting is referred to as a Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) meeting. The educational professionals and parents review the results and determine whether the child is a child with a disability, and, if so, what disability category, is most appropriate.

What happens if the child is determined to be a child with a disability?
After determining that the child is a child with a disability, the team will develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP). The IEP is a plan that describes the educational goals for the child related to the area of disability and the nature of the Special Education services needed to meet the goals. (See section, entitled, “IEP.”) Once the IEP is written, parental consent must be obtained before Special Education services can be provided for the first time. The IEP is reviewed annually, or sooner, to review progress and establish new goals. Law also requires that the child be reevaluated at least every three years to determine whether or not the child continues to need Special Education services.