School District Services

Special Education Assessments

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Special Education Assessments

Where Educators and Parents Collaborate for Their Children

At DaVinci, we are F.I.T. – Functional, Individual, Team-Driven.

Our process provides a comprehensive evaluation exploring all areas of a student’s profile. Our inquisitive approach allows us to make recommendations for targeted, explicit support for the student. Our functional assessments review records and collaborate with team members to create an individualized, team-driven plan for each child.

What are Special Education Assessments?

A special education assessment is an evaluation process designed to help determine a child’s educational needs and ability in order to help them have the best educational experience possible. Special education assessments are also known as evaluations and this process can help with a wide variety of children’s learning needs. Not only is this process used to determine if a child legally qualifies for special education services, but it can also be used to help understand the way your child thinks and processes information in order to help your child learn in a way that is best for them. Every child’s needs are unique and a special education assessment is a comprehensive tool to help determine your child’s educational strengths, difficulties and needs in order to make informed decisions about your child’s education. These decisions will set the course for a child’s lifelong learning, and making sure these decisions are well informed is the goal of special education assessments. 

 

What is the Purpose of Special Education Assessments? 

The purpose of special education assessments is to provide a comprehensive picture of a child’s strengths, weaknesses and needs in learning. The assessment is meant to provide a wide range of data points on a child’s learning abilities so that parents, teachers, district administrators and educational professionals can work together to make informed decisions on how to help a child succeed in their education. The data and decisions made based on the evaluation processes are used to help formulate the IEP (Individual Education Plan) which is a plan that will guide the student’s learning throughout their educational journey. In essence, the purpose of an evaluation or assessment is to: 

  1. Identify if a child has special educational needs or difficulties
  2. Diagnose the child’s needs and determine if they require special education assistance
  3. Gather data to implement an informed plan to help your child succeed 
  4. Routinely monitor your child’s progress and implement additional strategies as needed. 

To determine if your child needs educational assistance or qualifies for assistance under the law (IDEA – Individuals with Disabilities Act) the child must receive an initial comprehensive evaluation. However, assessments may be conducted on a regular basis every couple years to continually monitor the student’s progress and adjust their education strategy as needed. Routine assessments allow you to continually have the data you need to make informed decisions and help your student succeed throughout their education and lifelong learning. 

 

Common Elements of Special Education Assessments

The most effective assessments are tailored to meet each student’s needs and include a variety of tools and measures used to evaluate the student. This comprehensive assessment approach allows the evaluation team to gather data from multiple sources and through a variety of different methods to get a holistic view of a child’s current learning state and what strategies are needed to help the student progress.

One important point to know about a special education assessment is that the evaluation or assessment is not just a test. Tests are one means of evaluating a student’s abilities but are often standardized and should not be the only method used to evaluate the child. The assessment process should consist of standardized tests used to evaluate different aspects of a child’s abilities as well as data from parents, teachers, professional observations and even an assessment of the child’s physical health, psychological functioning and speech abilities if needed. In this way, the evaluation process includes many different data points and from many different sources to contribute to a complete picture of your child’s needs. 

In terms of standardized tests, a special education evaluation can include many different kinds of tests depending on your child’s needs. These tests vary widely in the time commitment needed to complete them and an education professional can help you craft a plan that will best fit your needs. However, a typical evaluation can include neuro-psychological evaluations that test things such as memory, attention, cognitive processing, general intelligence and others. Evaluations can also include tests for speech and language ability if your child has needs in this area. Motor skills evaluations may also be included, and if needed, psychological evaluations such as looking at your child’s cognitive reasoning, thinking patterns, self concept, emotional well-being and even social skills may be included. If desired, evaluation in specific academic subjects that your student may be struggling in can also be helpful. There are many scientifically validated assessments available such as those developed by Stanford-Binet, Weschler and others. Teachers and special education instructors along with educational professionals can help craft a plan that will best meet a student’s needs. 

 

The Evaluation Process

The evaluation process can be initiated in two ways, either by a parent requesting evaluation or by an educator requesting an evaluation with parental consent. If you are a parent and have noticed your child may be struggling educationally or may have specific learning or developmental needs, you can request a special education evaluation. To request an evaluation a parent can email the child’s school, district, or special education director in that area. A teacher may also notice these needs through observation in the classroom and can request a child be evaluated. However, in this case written parental consent must be obtained first before any child may be evaluated. 

Once the evaluation has been requested, it must be completed generally within 60 days of the request. The evaluation process will usually include a review of existing data including the student’s current performance in school and on academic tests, and information from the parents, teachers and other resources. After reviewing the data, the evaluation team can determine what additional data is needed to draw valid conclusions for your child. They will then complete the necessary tests and evaluation procedures to get the additional data and will use that to make recommendations and formulate an individual education plan. Parents should be included in all aspects of the evaluation process and generally at the end of the assessment the evaluating agency will have a meeting with the student’s parents, teachers and other support team members to go over the results of the assessment and the recommendations for next steps for the child. 

 

How Professionals Can Help

Because the special education assessment is the foundation for a child’s educational future, making sure that the assessment process is both accurate and comprehensive is crucial. You want to make sure that any assessment given will accurately measure the necessary items to determine your child’s needs. You also need to ensure that the process is comprehensive in that it evaluates the child’s current state from many different viewpoints in order to get a complete picture of the student’s current abilities and the desired future goal. An assessment process provided by a professional educational institution, such as Da Vinci Education and Research, can help you ensure that you get the best evaluation process possible for your student. Professional education organizations have the experience, time and expertise to know how to evaluate your individual child’s needs. They are also a third party outside the student’s regular education systems such as their school and home. Because they are outside these environments they are able to offer unbiased insights and additional perspective in the assessment process that can help you gain more insights into your child’s needs. For this reason, having a proven assessment process backed by professional expertise and experience may be very beneficial for your child’s educational progress. 

 

About Da Vinci Center Assessments

We offer neutral, comprehensive, educational evaluations that are diagnostic and prescriptive. Data collection programs and progress monitoring so you can interpret information that will help drive instruction. 

Working with the Committee of Special Education, we make practical and proven recommendations so each team can find the best solution for every child. Our process acknowledges that every individual has a unique learning profile. Our goal is to build trusting relationships with parents and districts to facilitate the best possible outcomes. We offer ongoing monitoring to ensure team alignment so that educational goals for every child are met.

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What People Say

What people have said about Da Vinci:

  • The evaluations conducted by Da Vinci provide unique insight into the profiles of our students while offering practical and productive recommendations to support their growth

    Sue Kosser Director of Pupil Personnel Services, East Rockaway School District
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