When it comes to determining eligibility for special education services in Central New York, there are a variety of assessments that can be used. These assessments include psychological evaluations, social histories, and observations of the student in their current educational environment. Before referring a school-age child for evaluation, the classroom teacher can plan strategies to see if their performance improved with simple changes in the curriculum or environment. These are called “pre-referral interventions” and must be tested and documented prior to referral.
If the student's performance improves, an evaluation may not be necessary. However, if problems persist, an evaluation will help identify more specific ways to help the student learn. It is important for parents to know what interventions are going to be tried and how long they will be tried before deciding if they are working or not. When classroom interventions are unsuccessful, the classroom teacher may refer the child to a study team to consider if the child should receive further evaluation. This team decides if there is evidence of a disability and, if so, the areas that will be evaluated and the evaluation that will be completed.
After the evaluation, the student's assigned case manager or school psychologist will contact the parents. The results of the evaluation will be summarized in an evaluation report and parents will receive a copy of the final report. Eligibility for special education services is determined by very specific criteria described by state and federal laws. For example, when determining the evaluation information needed for a student with limited English proficiency, it may be appropriate to include a person who knows the identification, evaluation, and education of those students. Special education services or modifications necessary to meet the student's annual goals set out in the IEP and to promote participation and progress, as appropriate, in the general education curriculum must also be considered. Additionally, when obtaining an independent educational evaluation, it is important that the criteria used by the school district when it initiates an evaluation are consistent with the parents' right to an independent educational evaluation. The student's regular education teacher must always be present at the CSE meeting when determining a student's eligibility for special education as a student with a learning disability.
Public elementary and secondary schools must also employ procedural safeguards in connection with the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of people who need or are believed to need special instruction or related services. The parent receives advance notice that provides documentation on the determination of eligibility or ineligibility for special education services. To properly evaluate a student who may have limited English proficiency, the CSE must assess the student's English proficiency as well as their native language to distinguish language proficiency from disability needs. If the CSE determines that the student is eligible for special education services, they must develop and implement an IEP for them in accordance with section 200,4 (d) of the Commissioner's Rules of Procedure. Individual evaluation is also necessary before convening a meeting to develop an IEP program. The Department of Education (ED) enforces Section 504 in programs and activities that receive funding from them. Students with ADHD or ADD may be eligible for special education in the category of other health problems if they have limited strength, vitality, or alertness resulting in limited alertness with respect to their educational environment that negatively affects their educational performance.
The date of initial determination of eligibility for special education services coincides with the date from which a maximum period of three years is calculated.