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A: A screening is a quick look at a child's skills in all areas of development. Early Childhood Screening (ECS) is often a first step in the evaluation process. If either the screener or the parents note concerns, a referral is made for additional evaluation/assessment. The evaluation is comprehensive and covers all areas of development.
Q: What is the difference between screening and evaluation?
A: Parents can explain to their child that they will play fun games with a teacher. The children come into a playroom and are able to play with a wide variety of toys while the evaluator and the parent discuss the evaluation plan. Then, one evaluator will take the child to a quiet room to play "school games" while a second evaluator interviews the parent in another room.
Q: What should I tell my child about the evaluation?
A: The evaluation generally occurs at Sandburg Education Center in downtown Anoka, in the child's home, and/or in their daycare or preschool setting, if applicable.
Q: Where does the evaluation take place?
A: The school district has 30 school days to complete the evaluation; however, not all evaluations take that long. Please note that 30 school days does not include weekends or other days the school district is closed. This means that the actual time the evaluation could take from start to finish is approximately 6 calendar weeks.
Q: How long does the evaluation process take?
A: A special education evaluation through the school district is free of charge to families.
Q: How much does an evaluation cost?
A: Depending on the presenting concerns, the evaluation team could include: an Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) teacher, a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP), a School Psychologist, an Occupational Therapist, a Physical Therapist, a Licensed School Nurse, and/or a teacher licensed in a specific disability area (e.g., teacher for the Blind or Visually Impaired, Emotional Behavioral Disorders, etc).
Q: Who will be involved in the evaluation?
A: Yes, parent information is very important. The evaluation team wants to address your areas of concern during the evaluation. You know your child better than the evaluators do.
Q: Is parent input important in an evaluation?
A: The evaluation team will request an interpreter to be a part of the evaluation process. The interpreter will help the evaluators by translating all the verbal directions into the child's primary language. If needed, parent information is also obtained by using the interpreter. When an interpreter is used during an educational evaluation, scores from standardized tests are not reported because typically the tests were not normed on children speaking a language other than English. Decisions about eligibility for special education services are made using multiple sources of information, including standardized tests, criterion referenced measures, informal observations, and parent report.
Q: How do you evaluate children who don’t speak English?
A: Yes, as long as your child is experiencing some success in the setting. As part of the evaluation process, an observation in a second setting is required, and a preschool setting is an ideal environment to observe a child. After the evaluation, if the child qualifies for special education services, the services may be provided in the preschool setting, if it is determined by the Individualized Education Plan team, including parents to be the best environment for the child to receive the services.
Q: Should I keep my child in preschool during the evaluation process?
A: The evaluation team will consider any information from a doctor or outside agency in the evaluation process. A child must not only meet Minnesota state criteria for a disability but must demonstrate a need for special education services. An outside diagnosis or evaluation is not sufficient to determine the need for services.
Q: My child’s doctor has determined that he/she has a disability. How do I get services?
A: If your child has behavior problems, the evaluation team will complete an assessment to see if those behaviors are severe enough to determine that there is a disability and would warrant special education programming. If your child does not qualify for special education services, but does still exhibit behavior difficulties, recommendations/suggestions will be shared with you regarding effective ways to deal with behavior problems, as well as possible community supports that may be available to help.
Q: What if my child has behavior problems?
A: In order to receive special education services in Minnesota, a category of disability needs to be identified. The state of Minnesota has identified 13 different categories of disability. Some parents may refer to this category as a "label". Using this method of identification provides information about a child's learning style and his/her educational needs. This helps determine the most appropriate services for each child.
Q: I don’t like the idea of my child having a “label.” Is it really necessary?
A: When the evaluation is completed and all of the assessment information compiled, it will be determined whether or not the child meets Minnesota State eligibility criteria for a special education category of service. An Evaluation Summary Report (ESR) will be written and provided to parents. If the child qualifies for special education services, information about these services will be discussed with parents and decisions will be made about how services will be provided.
Q: What happens after the evaluation?
A: Throughout the evaluation, parents are part of the discussion about which assessment tools and observations are included in the evaluation process, with the ability to approve or not approve the use of certain assessment tools. However, after the evaluation is completed and results are shared, the evaluation stands. If parents disagree with portions of the report, they can include a written summary of the portions that they disagree with, which will then be included in the child's file along with the report.
Q: What if I disagree with the results of the evaluation?
A: Results of the evaluation are shared with the parents. If mild concerns or delays were noted, suggestions and handouts are given to parents to help encourage these skills. After a period of time, if skills do not improve, parents may contact the school district to request another educational evaluation.
Q: What if my child doesn’t qualify for special education services?