My Child Is Being Tested? Labeled?

When your child is failing in school, it is a stressful time for both student and parent. If you get a message from the school that they want to test your child, it just adds to the fear that there is something wrong. Take a deep breath, though, because the school just wants to help your child learn, and testing is a good way to identify the best way to do that. According to Pamela Wright and Pete Wright, Esq. of WrightsLaw.com, “If school employees know or have reason to suspect that a child has a disability, these school employees have an affirmative duty to act on the child’s behalf” (emphasis in the original).

Laws

Let’s start with two laws you need to be familiar with. They govern how the school handles children with learning differences and their testing. The first is Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of1973 (also called “504”). This law makes public schools provide a “free appropriate public education” to every student with a disability within the school district’s boundaries. That is true, no matter the type or severity of the disability.

The other law is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which necessitates that schools have a process in place for assessing disability. This can be early intervention services for children under the age of 2 or special education services for those between the ages of 3 and 21. According to a New York Times blog by Jessica Lahey, “The definitions of what is or is not a disability, and whether those disabilities qualify vary wildly. ‘Qualified’ simply means that your child has been determined to have a disability that is covered under the law.”

Next Steps

Communicate with the school to find out what, specifically, they are concerned about. This can help you figure out what kind of testing will be done. They may be more intelligence or academic ability-related or behaviorally-related. There is no way to tell initially whether the testing will determine if your child will have a permanent label or whether there are some regular classroom-based interventions that will probably suffice to help your child succeed outside of more in-depth special education services.

If testing has identified that your child has a disability, the school will create an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The IEP process is one in which you, as the parent, should participate, so that you have a clear understanding of what the interventions are that your child will receive and know what goals your child is trying to reach based on the IEP. The end goal is to help your child learn in the way that is most meaningful to them. Advocating for your child and participating in discussions along the way with the school is vital to your child’s success.

Parent Rights

You may choose to have your child evaluated privately by a professional you choose, which is called an Independent Educational Evaluation. You can also refuse testing. Even if your child is in private school, the state still has some responsibilities toward your child. They are different in each state, however, so understand your state’s laws by contacting your state’s Parent Center. When you know your rights as a parent, you’ll be better prepared to advocate and assist your child in getting the right support to help them succeed. You can also visit the Center for Parent Information and Resources page for more information about how you can help your child through the special education identification process.

 

When your child is failing in school, it is a stressful time for both student and parent. If you get a message from the school that they want to test your child, it just adds to the fear that there is something wrong. Take a deep breath, though, because the school just wants to help your child learn, and testing is a good way to identify the best way to do that. According to Pamela Wright and Pete Wright, Esq. of WrightsLaw.com, “If school employees know or have reason to suspect that a child has a disability, these school employees have an affirmative duty to act on the child’s behalf” (emphasis in the original).

Laws

Let’s start with two laws you need to be familiar with. They govern how the school handles children with learning differences and their testing. The first is Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of1973 (also called “504”). This law makes public schools provide a “free appropriate public education” to every student with a disability within the school district’s boundaries. That is true, no matter the type or severity of the disability.

The other law is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which necessitates that schools have a process in place for assessing disability. This can be early intervention services for children under the age of 2 or special education services for those between the ages of 3 and 21. According to a New York Times blog by Jessica Lahey, “The definitions of what is or is not a disability, and whether those disabilities qualify vary wildly. ‘Qualified’ simply means that your child has been determined to have a disability that is covered under the law.”

Next Steps

Communicate with the school to find out what, specifically, they are concerned about. This can help you figure out what kind of testing will be done. They may be more intelligence or academic ability-related or behaviorally-related. There is no way to tell initially whether the testing will determine if your child will have a permanent label or whether there are some regular classroom-based interventions that will probably suffice to help your child succeed outside of more in-depth special education services.

If testing has identified that your child has a disability, the school will create an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The IEP process is one in which you, as the parent, should participate, so that you have a clear understanding of what the interventions are that your child will receive and know what goals your child is trying to reach based on the IEP. The end goal is to help your child learn in the way that is most meaningful to them. Advocating for your child and participating in discussions along the way with the school is vital to your child’s success.

Parent Rights

You may choose to have your child evaluated privately by a professional you choose, which is called an Independent Educational Evaluation. You can also refuse testing. Even if your child is in private school, the state still has some responsibilities toward your child. They are different in each state, however, so understand your state’s laws by contacting your state’s Parent Center. When you know your rights as a parent, you’ll be better prepared to advocate and assist your child in getting the right support to help them succeed. You can also visit the Center for Parent Information and Resources page for more information about how you can help your child through the special education identification process.

M.L. Page, M.Ed.

IEP- Function and Purpose

 

When your child is identified as having a disability, the school will bring together several people, including you, to help write an IEP. An IEP is a tool to help your child succeed in school and to ensure that appropriate interventions and academic and social goals are set.

Definition

An IEP is an Individualized Education Program. It is a document that lays out the educational program that is tailored to your child. The purposes of an IEP are to identify academic and social goals and to state which supports and services the school will provide your child to help them succeed, according to the Parent Center Hub website.

Law

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, necessitates that schools have a process in place for assessing disability, which can be early intervention services for children under the age of 2 or special education services for those between the ages of 3 and 21.

Components of an IEP

This law also states that the IEP has to have statements about “present levels of academic achievement and functional performance,” “annual goals,” “special education and related services to be provided,” and “participation with children without disabilities,” according to the Parent Center Hub website.

The present levels of academic achievement and functional performance says how your child is doing now in school and how the disability affects that. The goals describe what the school team thinks your child can accomplish in a year as far as needs that relate to the disability, and they map out how your child can take part in the general education curriculum. The services to be provided discuss tools and arrangements, like a communication device or different seating arrangements, as well as special education services from personnel at the school, that can help your child succeed. The IEP also spells out how much of the day your child will spend educated away from the general population.

IEPs also include a variety of other components, such as dates and location of services, participation in assessments, transition services, and how progress will be measured. Read the Parent Center Hub site for more information about all IEP components.

Who Creates an IEP?

IEPs are created by one regular education teacher, a special education provider or teacher, a representative of the school system, someone who can interpret evaluation results, others the school or you invite, parents, and your child, when appropriate.

If at all possible, attend IEP meetings at your child’s school so that you understand the plan to help your child succeed and to advocate for them, if necessary. The meetings can be done without parents participating, so try to attend, if you can. You can still get records of the meeting if you don’t attend.

In the end, an IEP is designed to help your child succeed. They are updated annually, and they reflect the desire of the school to see your child do well in all aspects of life. Don’t be afraid of them. Embrace them as a tool to support your child.

 

M.L.Page, M.Ed.