Is your child struggling in school? You may want to consider making an initial referral for special education eligibility to have your child’s school team assess and evaluate your child. This process is legally known as an initial referral for special education eligibility.
If you are concerned about your child’s academic progress, reading and math levels, grades, behavior, speech, coordination, social skills, school attendance, emotions, and the like, a comprehensive assessment will help to further identify the nature and extent of your child’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as provide guidance for developing a free appropriate public education program. At Forte Law Group, our experienced Connecticut Special Education Attorneys help you to secure the appropriate evaluations from your school district team or with the right outside private educational evaluators at district funded expense.
To determine if your child may qualify for special education, please read our article on Connecticut Special Education Eligibility Worksheets: What Are the Disability Categories Under the IDEA in Connecticut.
Obtaining the Appropriate Evaluations Are Key
Whether you are trying to determine if your child qualifies for special education or need assistance with further informing your child’s existing special education program, obtaining appropriate, comprehensive evaluations in all suspected areas of weaknesses is critical to your child’s educational success.
To better serve you and your child, Forte Law Group attorneys conduct a thorough review of your child’s educational records to determine what assessments and evaluations your child needs in order to reach their full academic potential.
Types of Testing
There are various kinds of testing available for students at all school ages. While our law firm does not conduct testing, we do understand how assessments are administered and can help explain the results of the assessments to you and guide you through the process of negotiating the right evaluations.
School teams conduct many different types of assessments and evaluations for students. Generally speaking, school teams evaluate to:
- Identify children that are experiencing delays or learning problems.
- Determine if a child has qualifying disability to be deemed eligible for special education and related services.
- Gather functional, developmental, and academic based information about a child.
- Collect data about a child’s present levels of performance in academic achievement, functional performance, and educational needs.
- Develop an appropriate Individualized Education Program (IEP) in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
- Provide information to assist teachers and related services providers.
- Create appropriate accommodations and modifications to a child’s education program.
- Monitor a child’s progress in relation to the child’s special education goals and objectives.
Intellectual Evaluations / Full Scall Intelligence Quotient (FSIQ)
IQ testing often may reveal “scatter” in a child’s psycho-metric assessment scores. Such testing helps to review:
- Developmental and intellectual disabilities: inability to learn or function at expected levels.
- Verbal reasoning and vocabulary: understanding concepts framed in words.
- Fluid reasoning: the capacity to think logically and solve problems.
- Visual spatial and visual-motor skills: the ability to translate a visual image into accurate motor action.
- Short-term working memory: the capacity to store small amounts of information in the mind and keep it readily available for a short period of time, essential for daily functioning.
- Long-term working memory: the storage of information over an extended period of time.
- Processing speed: the pace at which a student is able to perceive information, make sense of that information, and then respond accordingly.
Academic Achievement Assessments
Academic achievement tests measure:
- Assessment of reading: an assessment that examines a student’s reading comprehension, listening comprehension, phonemic awareness, rapid naming, vocabulary, fluency, word identification, word attack, spelling, and alphabet.
- Assessment of mathematics: examines a learners ability to understanding mathematical language, concepts, numbers, and mathematic operations.
- Assessment of written language: used to gauge language and written development for writing sentences, paragraphs, stories, and essays, along with spelling punctuation and mechanics of writing.
Speech and Language Evaluations
A speech and language evaluation helps to measure:
- Speech and language skills: listening, semantics, nonliteral and abstract language, and speech articulation.
- Receptive language: refers to how your child understands language; the “input” of language.
- Expressive language: refers to how your child uses words to express him or herself; the “output” of language.
Hearing, Vision, or Motor Skills Assessments
Evaluations covering hearing, vision and motor skills include:
- Hearing impairment: hearing loss that impacts educational performance.
- Vision impairment: vision loss that impacts educational performance.
- Motor impairment: fine or gross motor impairments that impact a child’s educational performance that may require related services such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, assistive technology, specialized transportation, or mobility equipment.
Auditory, Visual, Visual-Motor and Sensory Processing Assessments
Children can sometimes have a processing disorder that is not related to intelligence, such as:
- Auditory Processing Disorder: challenges distinguishing sounds and understanding language.
- Visual Processing Disorder: challenges seeing the differences between similar letters, numbers, shapes, or objects.
- Sensory Processing Disorder: easily distracted or “overloaded” by what a student see, hears, tests, or smells.
Challenging Behavior and Functional Behavior Assessments (FBAs)
If your child as a disability relating to their behavior, it may be impacting their ability to access learning. Some behaviors maybe harmful to the child or to other children.
- Adaptive Behavior: refers to age-appropriate behaviors that child without a disability neurotypically develops to be independent and function. For a child with a disability, an adaptive behavior assessment examines a child’s levels of communication, academic, daily living, and social skills.
- Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA): is an assessment that is used to identify a child’s challenging behaviors and what triggers those behaviors in order to develop a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) to reduce and eliminate the challenging behaviors through the use of positive intervention strategies.
Transition Planning into Adulthood is a process of collecting information and assessing a child’s needs, strengths, weaknesses, interests, and preferences as they relate to future living, learning and working environments after a student exits special education from high school or once they have reached the age of 22. Transition assessments may include:
- Aptitude tests
- Adaptive behavior assessments
- Interest and work value inventories
- Intelligence tests
- Preference tests
- Independent living abilities
- Community engagement
- Vocational education and planning
- Daily living skills
- Advance daily living skills
Psychological-Educational Evaluations (Psycho-Ed Eval)
A psycho-ed eval is usually conducted by a specialized qualified examiner that has a master’s or doctoral level degree is education or psychology. A child clinical psychologist can also bill health insurance companies for some of the evaluation services and provide medical diagnoses, whereas a school psychologist cannot. A private psycho-ed evaluator also has more training than a school psychologist and has received extensive training regarding child psychopathology (medical diagnosis of psychological disorders) and may have hospital or community based psychological intervention experience. They are also trained in personality assessments, which is broader than behavior rating scales done by school psychologists.
Neuropsychological Evaluations (Neuropsych Eval)
Child neuropsychologists are a “subset” specialized child clinical psychologist that has completed additional training and experience. Neuropsychologists are usually board-certified (meaning they have passed a national board examination with specific training and experience). They also are trained to evaluate using data collection from psychological measures and consider certain areas of the brain are responsible for that data.
The Connecticut Special Education Lawyers at Forte Law Group can help you navigate through the evaluation process with your school district.
For more information, visit us at www.fortelawgroup.com or call us at 203-257-7999.
You can also schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation here.