Evaluations of Students With Disabilities

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To be eligible for Special Education Services (SES), students must first be evaluated. Parents who suspect their child has a disability that might qualify them for SES should request an evaluation in writing. Make sure to sign and date the request and keep a copy. Students who need SES will be evaluated on a regular basis. This is to make sure they get appropriate services. Different types of evaluations are used at different times. Not all of them are standard tests.

Evaluation Process

A Multidisciplinary Evaluation Team (MET) does the first evaluation to decide if a student is eligible for SES. An MET is made up of professionals with different areas of expertise. Schools need to get signed parent consent for the first evaluation. Within 30 school days of receiving permission, the MET must do the evaluation and share the results with a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team, which includes the parents. You can use the Do-It-Yourself Letter Requesting Special Education Services (SES) or 504 Services tool to ask that your child be evaluated to get SES.

The IEP Team uses the results of the MET to determine eligibility and design an IEP for student success. To learn more about the IEP process, read How to Ask for Special Education Services for My Child.

The MET must use more than one test to decide if your child is eligible for SES. Every area of your child’s possible disability must be evaluated. Your child’s physical abilities, emotional state, and intelligence can all be tested. There are certain guidelines for all the tests. Every test must:

  • Not discriminate based on race or culture

  • Be given in a way that will most likely give accurate results

  • Be given by people who are trained and qualified to give the test

  • Use valid and reliable tools

  • Assess a student’s specific needs, not just measure a single area, like intelligence

  • Be used with other tests to help design the best program for the student

You can file a complaint with the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) if a school does not use the right standard in making a decision, does not use the right procedure, or makes a decision not based on facts. To learn more about this and other types of complaints, read Due Process Hearings and Education-Related Complaints.

If your child is eligible for SES, an MET will also do reevaluations on a regular basis. This is to help understand your child’s abilities, needs, and progress. Your child must be reevaluated at least once every three years, unless you and the school agree it is not necessary. You or your child’s teachers can ask for more reevaluations if your child’s needs have changed. These must be done within 30 days of request.

If the MET finds your child is not eligible for SES, you can request your child be reevaluated. Use the Do-It-Yourself Letter Requesting Special Education Services (SES) or 504 Services tool to draft a letter asking that your child be reevaluated.

Independent Educational Evaluation

If you do not agree with the school’s evaluation of your child’s educational needs, you can ask for an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE). A qualified examiner who does not work for the school district must do the IEE. If you ask for an IEE, the school must give you information about:

  • Sources and locations of examiners

  • Credentials for qualified examiners

  • Expected costs

  • Notice that you do not have to choose a source suggested by the school

The school must pay for the IEE, but it may set a reasonable limit on the cost.

You must ask for an IEE in writing. Be sure to sign and date your request. The school must respond in writing within seven days of receiving your request. The school can respond in one of two ways. It can approve the request and allow the IEE. Or, it can ask for a chance to explain why the school’s original evaluation is correct. This happens at a due process hearing.

If the MDE approves the school’s request for a hearing, the school must prove that the evaluation is appropriate for your child. If the administrative law judge agrees that the school’s evaluation is appropriate, you can still get an IEE, but you will need to pay for it.

If an IEE is approved, the school must allow the evaluator to watch your child in the classroom or other educational setting. The school must use the IEE report to help make decisions about your child’s education. This does not mean the school must follow the findings of the IEE. The IEE report can also be used as evidence in any administrative hearing.

Standardized Tests

Every student must take standardized tests, like the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-STEP). Your child’s IEP Team will decide if they should take standardized tests or a different test. If the Team decides your child should take the standardized tests, the IEP Team will order any accommodations for your child.

The MDE has a Summary Accommodation Table that lists typical accommodations. Examples include:

  • Flexible test scheduling

  • Revised test formats and instructions

  • Use of aids and devices

  • Interpreters and readers

  • Scribes (people who write for the student)

Other accommodations not listed in the table can also be approved.

If the Team decides your child should not take the tests, the IEP Team must explain why to the MDE. The IEP Team also must come up with other tests to evaluate your child’s knowledge and progress. An IEP Team cannot exclude students with disabilities from statewide testing.