We wanted to share two articles we recently read from ECAC’s blog archives. Both have valuable information so we wanted to share them with you! The first article talks about when to consider an Independent Educational Evaluation and the second article talks about evaluations while your child is in the RTI process. You can find the link to those articles here https://askecac.org/tag/evaluation/
Christina and Wendy
When attending a meeting to discuss your child’s needs, there are a few phrases you should never hear. Below are just a few:
- ANY word regarding money. Never, never, never should an employee of the school say anything about what services can and can not be offered because of monetary concerns. IEP Team members make decisions for a child based on the child’s need and the data to show that need.
- “We can’t test your child until we have tried RTI (or MTSS)”. This statement is false. Take a look at our blog What Can I Do if My Child is Struggling in School?
- “This meeting will only be an hour because (insert any reason here: the general education teacher has to leave, we have another meeting scheduled, etc).” The meeting should last as long as necessary to address the concerns of every member of the team. Who Is On Your Child’s Team?
- “We aren’t going to add your statement to the DEC 5 because we don’t agree with you.” As a member of your child’s team, you have the right to add any statement regarding your child and the meeting, even if they don’t agree. The Importance of a DEC5
- “We can’t make that decision today.” At every meeting, there should be a person who has the authority to make decisions. This person is called the LEA representative. They should know and understand laws regarding special education, policies within the school and district, and have knowledge of the budget.
- “We don’t accept outside evaluations.” In North Carolina, all evaluations must be considered by the IEP Team. If you offer an outside evaluation documenting your child’s needs, the Team needs to discuss it and see how and if it is is relevant to the over all data for your child.
These are just a few of the statements we have had parents tell us members of their child’s team have said. There are a few statements that we have experienced at IEP meetings for our own children. These statements are not shared with you to cause anger toward your child’s team, but instead for you to know where to establish boundaries with the team as you reach a consensus about what is in the best interest of your child. When you have a question or concern, always start by going to your child’s case manager or EC teacher first. If you are not able to get your question answered, you can then ask the EC Coordinator or Director next for your school or district.
NCDPI has an excellent website with information http://www.dpi.state.nc.us .Under “departments” click “exceptional children.”
Another fantastic resource for parents is the ECAC (Exceptional Children’s Assistance Center). http://www.ecac-parentcenter.org
You are also always welcome to e-mail us with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wendy and Christina
The RTI system is a lenghty process. Perhaps you, as a parent, have outside evaluations and information that you can share with your child’s school. North Carolina schools must consider your private evaluations as part of the data finding process in identifying your child’s unique learning needs. A parent can also formally request a special education meeting to evaluate for special education services. Once the parent has made this request, the school has 90 days to start and complete the process. Please read the blog post Knowing Your Forms (coming very soon) to learn about the different forms and what they mean. During the first meeting, the team will discuss your child’s strenghts in various areas and his/her areas of need. The team will also discuss any evaluations or inofrmation you might have and what interventions have been tried prior to this meeting. After all data has been discussed and documented, one of three decisions will be made: 1. conduct an evaluation 2. determine your child is eligible for services or 3. do not conduct an evalution.
If the decision is to conduct the evalution, the team will decide based on the areas of need which evaluation will be conducted. If there is enough data to support finding your child eligible at this meeting, eligibility forms can then be completed and an IEP implemented.
The third choice of not conducting an evluation could happen as a reult of not having enough data. It could also result in your child moving to a meeting for a 504 instead (there is an upcoming blog post coming soon about the differences between IEPs and 504s). If the team decides that there is not enough data the team may decide to also have your child go back into the RTI process to gather more information, observations and overall data on what your child needs to be more successful in his/her school environment. The law says, however, that the RTI process can not be used to prolong or delay evaluating. If it is decided that your child should be evaluated based on current data, then the information that would be collected through RTI must be complete before the timeframe for the special education process is complete. In North Carolina, that would be 90 days from the day the school received the referral.
If you need help writing a letter to your child’s school, please check out this link: http://www.parentcenterhub.org/repository/evaluation-2/
Wendy and Christina
Your child is struggling in school. You’ve noticed it and most likely your child’s teachers have noticed the struggles. It could be in behavior, reading, math, sensory, etc. You’ve brought up your concerns with your child’s teacher and the two of you have talked about possible ways you can help him/her at school as well as at home. Yet, the struggles continue and your child is falling behind. This seems like something that is beyond what common classroom modifications can help alone.
If your child is in a public school, it is common for him/her to then go through the RTI or MTSS process. RTI stands for Response To Intervention and MTSS stands for multi-tiered system of supports. RTI is a multi tiered system that identifies specific struggles within a student and collects data on how the interventions have helped or not helped your child. The overall method is a common one, however, it may look a little different depending on what county you live in and if your child attends a public school or a charter school. If you would like to learn more about RTI and MTSS you can ask your school for further details and/or check out the following links: www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/6880 and http://mtss.ncdpi.wikispaces.net
The RTI method can be lengthy but it is intended to gather good information on how your child learns, what interventions have worked and what specific struggles your child continues to have. If your child has worked through this tier system and continues to need specialized help, he/she is typically then referred to the exceptional children’s department (special education).
Wendy and Christina