Students raising their hands in a classroom

Step 4: Evaluation

What is an initial evaluation?

An initial evaluation is a set of procedures used by the school district to determine whether a student has a disability and the nature and extent of the special education services that the student needs.  An initial evaluation is required to determine if the child has a disability, and to measure the academic and functional performance and the educational needs of the child.

Do parents need to sign consent for an initial evaluation?

Yes, if the school district determines that an initial evaluation for eligibility is necessary, then the federal special education law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), requires the school district to provide notice and obtain informed parental consent.  Consent forms include:

  • A statement of parents’ rights to refuse consent and that, if given, it may be revoked at any time
  • A statement that parental failure to respond within ten school days from the date of the notice shall be interpreted as refusal of consent
  • A statement that, if contested, a student’s current educational placement will not change until due process procedures are completed

What happens if parents refuse consent to evaluate?

If parents refuse or withdraw consent for an initial evaluation, the school district may continue to pursue it by using due process or mediation.  If the hearing officer upholds the school district’s decision, the school district may evaluate the child.  However, if the parent does not respond to a request to provide consent for the initial provision of special education services, then the school district cannot use due process or mediation.

What are the evaluation requirements under IDEA?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires school districts to conduct an evaluation that:

  • Uses a variety of procedures, tools and strategies to gather relevant functional, developmental and academic information (including information provided by the parent)
  • Evaluates the child in all areas in which a disability is suspected, including if appropriate: health, vision, hearing, social and emotional status, general intelligence, academic performance, communicative status and motor abilities
  • Evaluates in the native language of the child (for example, Spanish) or other means of communication (for example, sign language, if the child is deaf), unless it is clearly impossible to do so
  • Is non-discriminatory against the child because he or she has a disability or is from a different racial or cultural background
  • Uses evaluation tools and strategies that provide relevant information that directly support decisions about the educational needs of the child and that determine the roles that cognitive, behavioral, physical, and/or developmental factors are playing in the child’s difficulties

What is the evaluation timeline in Connecticut?

Connecticut state regulations allow the school district 45 school days from the date of referral to the implementation of the IEP.  The Connecticut State Department of Education has determined that the 45 school-day timeline begins after a local educational agency receives a signed, completed referral form or written letter requesting a referral.

What happens if the parents disagree with evaluation results?

Parents may request an independent educational evaluation (IEE) at the district’s expense if they disagree with an evaluation that was conducted by the district.  In response, the district may:

  • file a due process complaint to request a hearing to show that the district’s evaluation is appropriate
  • ensure that an IEE is provided at the district’s expense, unless the agency demonstrates in a hearing that the evaluation obtained by the parent did not meet agency criteria

Tips for Parents

Children with disabilities benefit more from their education if their parents are involved and well informed.  Parents must be active members of the evaluation process by understanding the special education process and their rights.  Parents have the right to receive a copy of the evaluation report at no cost.  It is recommended that parents read this report carefully and ask for further explanation to be able to interpret the evaluation report and to make educated decisions at the PPT meetings.  Request a copy of the evaluation report prior to the PPT meeting.

© Connecticut Parent Advocacy Center | Sitemap

CT Web Design by Brown Bear Creative