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IDEA and Evaluation Requirements
The IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) mandates a number of specific evaluation procedures that insure that all students with disabilities receive appropriate educational programs in their learning communities.
- When students receive the initial evaluation for special education services, an IEP (Individualized Education Program) is created to address their specific learning needs.
- An annual evaluation must be done to insure that students are receiving the most appropriate education designed and individualized for their needs.
- Reevaluation of the IEP and its implementation are done under IDEA every three years to insure legal compliance and appropriateness of the educational plan.
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IDEA and Evaluation Procedures
Under IDEA, evaluation procedures for students with disabilities must include specific legal requirements to insure that students are being given an equitable and individualized learning program. The following procedures are included below:
- Testing materials must be accessible to optimize student performance and understanding of what's being evaluated. If a student has a visual impairment, the tests must be in larger print or Braille if the student is blind. On the other hand if the student is ELL and has limited English skills, then the tests must be written in their language of origin to provide a valid assessment of skills and deficiencies. If students need to have the tests read, then teachers must provide assistance in meeting those needs. The staff members providing assistance must be trained professionally to administer the tests.
- Tests must be reliable and valid when used in the initial screening of students being evaluated for special education programs. However, when determining specific eligibility and placement of students within the mainstream community, tests may become somewhat limited in what information is determined and how that information is interpreted for student placement and whether the designed educational program is appropriate and aligned with the student's disability.
- Evaluations of the student's IEP must be done annually to insure that under IDEA student learning needs are being met and evaluated and amended when necessary. Reevaluation of the student's IEP implementation is done every three years to insure IDEA compliance in meeting the student's learning needs.
Students are constantly being tested, evaluated and reevaluated for special needs services in school communities throughout the United States. Under IDEA, the current evaluation procedures in place insure that those who administer the tests and those who provide definitive diagnostic feedback on IEPs to address learning competencies are aligned to meet the educational needs of the student, first and foremost.