Alphabet Soup: The ABCs of ESE
Pre-referral: Districts are responsible for implementing an MTSS process to provide struggling students with evidence based interventions to help determine the least restrictive environment in which a student’s needs can be met.
Evaluation: Conducted by the school if MTSS data indicates that a student is not responding appropriately to evidence based interventions and may require more intensive supports. The evaluation should answer two questions: 1. Does the student have a disability? And 2. Does the student require specially designed instruction?
Frequently Asked Questions By Parents About Evaluation
A: No. The school is only required to respond to you request in a timely manner and to issue prior written notice stating the reason(s) for the school’s refusal to initiate an evaluation.
Q: I want an evaluation but I don’t want my child to be labeled or placed in special education.
A: Determination of eligibility for a disability and the need for special education is the purpose of a school-based evaluation. If you would like an evaluation just for diagnostic clarification or to provide recommendations or strategies, a private evaluation may be more appropriate.
Q: What if I obtain a private evaluation or a prescription for an IEP by my child’s doctor or therapist?
A: You are encouraged to share any private evaluations and recommendations with the school. However, recommendations pertaining to diagnosis or placement do not supersede the MTSS process.
Q: My child already has a diagnosis. Doesn’t this mean s/he needs special education?
A: Not necessarily. Privately diagnosed conditions may or may not translate to educational diagnoses, and your child may or may not need specially designed instruction. Existing diagnoses do not supersede the MTSS process.
Q: My child is struggling and I don’t know how else to help other than to request an evaluation.
A: Evaluation is a last resort after all other options have been exhausted. It may or may not be appropriate for your child. Your best bet is to contact your child’s teacher to ask how the school is helping your child and what more, if anything, you can do.
Placement: Should a student be identified with a disability and found eligible for specially designed instruction, an IEP is developed and the decision of where the student’s needs can best be met is made by the team.
The 504 Plan
- Does the student have a physical or mental impairment?
- Does the impairment affect one or more major life activities such that the student is prohibited in having access to their educational program?
- Is the student substantially limited by the major life activity?
- Is an aid, service or accommodation needed to enable the student to participate in their educational program?
More information on Sarasota County ESE can be found here: https://www.sarasotacountyschools.net/domain/1172