According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), your child’s school district is required to reevaluate your child at least every three years and conduct reevaluation IEP Meetings. Reevaluation may be done as often as once a year if the parent or a teacher requests updated evaluations or if the school district believes that reevaluating the child is necessary for programming. Reevaluations are also required if the school district believes that the child is no longer a child with a disability, except in the cases when the child is due to graduate from high school with a regular diploma or due to age out of FAPE under State law. If there is going to be a change of eligibility category reevaluations are not required unless the team deems it necessary.
There are two primary purposes for a reevaluation. The first is to determine through formal and informal assessments whether the child remains a child with a disability and therefore remains eligible for special education. The second is to use the information gained from the assessments to determine the child’s educational and functional needs and design a sound educational program outlined in the child’s Individual Education Program (IEP).
Many schools are choosing not to reevaluate children for their triennial revaluation IEP meetings. If a school district feels that no new or helpful information will be gleaned from the evaluations or that there is no question about whether the child will still meet eligibility criteria as a child with a disability they can decide not to reassess, WITH THE PARENTS approval. Following is the wording of this section of the law,
“If the IEP Team and other qualified professionals, as appropriate, determine that no additional data are needed to determine whether the child continues to be a child with a disability, and to determine the child’s educational needs, the public agency must notify the child’s parents of that determination and the reasons for the determination; and the right of the parents to request an assessment to determine whether the child continues to be a child with a disability, and to determine the child’s educational needs”.
I was recently contacted by a parent who told me that her school district told her they would not be revaluating her son because he was not qualified as having a specific learning disability. When the parents said that they wanted their son to be reevaluated, the school district said they were not required to conduct reevaluations since he was not SLD. A child’s disability category has nothing to do with whether a reevaluation should or should not be conducted. If the parent or teacher believe that a reevaluation is necessary the school district is required to reassess all areas related to the child’s disability, which may include the follow domains as deemed appropriate; health, vision, hearing, social and emotional status, general intelligence, academic performance, communicative status, and motor abilities.
Some school districts also decide not to reevaluate children in certain disability categories because they know the child will re-qualify. If the parent is in agreement with this decision that is fine and is in accordance with the law but I have seen this presented to the parent as a decision that has already been made without explaining to the parents that they have a choice in the matter. This is not in accordance with the law and, in my opinion, is unethical. Most parents believe that their school district follows all of the laws laid out in IDEA but unfortunately, that is not always the case, which is why I believe it is so important for parents to understand their parental rights and to ask questions when something does not feel or sound right.
Some people may wonder why a school district would choose to not conduct a reevaluation. In my opinion, the main rationale for this decision is based on time and therefore money. It can take a significant amount of time to conduct the assessments, write reports regarding the scores and other data learned from the assessments, explain the results to parents and teachers, create goals and objectives for the IEP based on the educational and functional needs determined through the assessments and coordinate meetings where all (or most) of the staff who assessed the child can be present to meet with the parents and create a new IEP.
In my personal opinion, as someone who has been a school social worker, a case manager, a special education teacher and a parent advocate for over 20 years, it would be rare that I would recommend to the parent to agree with the school district that a reevaluation is not warranted. I strongly believe that appropriate assessments lead to better programming and services, which leads to more success for your child. Appropriate educational and functional assessments are critical to setting up appropriate programs for children with disabilities. Without current assessment data I feel like many teams are shooting in the dark when they create IEPs, especially now in the days of picking IEP objectives from a drop down menu rather than personally writing them based on individual student needs.
I would love to hear about your experiences with the reevaluation process with your child. Have you ever been told that the team determined not to reevaluate your child even though you disagreed with that decision? Did you know that they were supposed to conduct the reevaluation if you requested it?