Referral and Evaluation Process
- What is a referral?
- What happens when a referral is made?
- Referral timeline
- Evaluation Components
- How is eligibility determined?
A referral is a signed letter requesting an evaluation that is given to the school district when a child is suspected of having a disability and might need special education services.
Who can make a referral?
Agencies concerned with the welfare of students
If you believe that your child may have a disability, you may refer your child for an evaluation by submitting a written request to your school district. When writing to the school district about special education issues, you may write to the school principal, director of special education, child study team supervisor, case manager or other appropriate school official.
Within 20 calendar days (excluding school holidays, but including summer vacation) following receipt of a referral of a student, the Child Study Team shall meet with the parent and the student’s regular education teacher to determine the need for a comprehensive evaluation and to design an Evaluation Plan. If an evaluation is warranted, upon receipt of parental consent, the evaluation will begin. If an evaluation is not warranted the student returns to general education without being evaluated, however, there may be recommendations for interventions in the general education setting made by the child study team.
Within ninety days of receipt of parental consent to evaluate and after completing the evaluation, the Child Study Team will hold a conference with the parent(s) and the student’s teacher to share findings. At this meeting it will be determined if eligibility for special education and related services is needed in order for the student to access his or her education. If the student is found ineligible for services after the evaluation the student returns to general education, however, there may be recommendations developed for interventions in the general education setting made by the child study team. If the student is found eligible for special education and related services, then an Individual Education Program (IEP) can be developed with the additional input from a special education teacher.
A comprehensive Child Study Team evaluation consists of several components, each conducted on an individual basis. A comprehensive evaluation specifically consists of at least two of the following:
Psychological Assessment – the responsibility of a certified School Psychologist. This may include teacher conferences, observation of the student in other than a testing session, and an appraisal of the current cognitive, social, adaptive and emotional status of the student.
Educational Assessment – the responsibility of a certified Learning Disabilities Teacher Consultant. This may include observation of the student in other than a testing session, review of the student’s educational history, conferences with the student’s teacher(s), and an evaluation and analysis of the pupils academic performance and learning characteristics.
Social Assessment – the responsibility of a certified School Social Worker. This may include observation of the student and communication with the student and parent(s), an evaluation of the student’s adaptive social functioning and emotional development and of the family, social and cultural factors which influence the student’s learning and behavior in the educational setting.
In addition to evaluations performed by the Child Study Team, determination of certain disabling conditions requires specialist examinations – such as speech, hearing, neurological, psychiatric, medical, etc. These and /or others are to be obtained as warranted.
Additionally, the Team shall consider examination results and findings of specialists which may be submitted by the parent(s) or others.
The Child Study Team shall consider pertinent information from other certified school personnel and from the parents(s) when rendering evaluation and eligibility decisions.
If a student is determined to be eligible for special education and related services, documentation of eligibility shall be prepared and become the basis for the Present Levels of Performance of an Individual Education Program (IEP).
When the evaluation is completed, eligibility is determined collaboratively at a meeting according to N.J.A.C. 6A:14-2.3(i)1. To be eligible for special education and related services:
A student must have a disability according to one of the eligibility categories;
The disability must adversely affect the student’s educational performance; and
The student must be in need of special education and related services.
The school district must provide a copy of the evaluation report(s) and documentation of eligibility to the parent (or adult student, when applicable) not less than 10 calendar days prior to the eligibility meeting.