If your child has an IEP, you’re probably familiar with the school evaluation process. The evaluation results helped determine whether your child was eligible for special education. They also shape the goals in his IEP.
At some point, you or the school may want to reevaluate your child. Here’s what you need to know about school reevaluations.
What Reevaluation Is
A reevaluation is an evaluation that happens after your child’s initial evaluation.
A reevaluation isn’t the same as the annual review of your child’s IEP, which happens every year. Nor is it just additional testing. A reevaluation is a full-fledged look at your child’s needs.
There are two types of reevaluations:
- Triennial Reevaluation (Three-Year Review)
- Parent- or Teacher-Requested Reevaluation
Here’s what you need to know about each.
Triennial Reevaluation (Three-Year Review)
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires schools to reevaluate kids with IEPs at least once every three years. This is known as a triennial reevaluation or review.
The purpose of the triennial is to see if your child’s needs have changed. It’s also to see if your child still qualifies for special education services.
Parents and schools may agree not to do a triennial reevaluation, but they must do so in writing. For example, after reviewing your child’s records and progress, the IEP team might decide there’s already enough data to support continued services and set goals. In that case, a reevaluation may not be needed.
Keep in mind, though, that three years is a long time. Even if it’s clear your child is still eligible for services, his needs and abilities may have changed. A reevaluation can give the IEP team more information about what to include in his IEP.
Sometimes, parents don’t want triennial testing because they worry it may be used to take away a child’s IEP. That’s a real concern. However, if you’re worried about this, it’s important to know your child can’t lose services without data to back up that he no longer needs them. You also have the right to disagree with a decision to remove services.
The school can’t reevaluate your child if you state in writing that you don’t want him reevaluated. But the school can request a due process hearing if it thinks testing is necessary. The hearing officer would then decide how to proceed.
Parent- or Teacher-Requested Reevaluation
A triennial evaluation is required every three years for kids with IEPs. However, parents and teachers may want a reevaluation at another time, or before the three-year mark.
Under IDEA, a child may be evaluated only once per year. But that leaves room for you to request a new evaluation for many different reasons:
- Your child wasn’t originally found eligible, and he’s still struggling. It’s possible that when your child was first evaluated, he didn’t meet the criteria for special education. After a year, if he’s still struggling, you may want to request a new evaluation. You can do so even if he’s already getting informal support at school or has a 504 plan.
- There are new areas of concern. When your child is first referred for evaluation, the school notes the areas he was struggling in. For example, if your child was evaluated because he was having trouble with reading, the testing may have focused on dyslexia. But maybe once he received support in reading, it became clear that he struggles in other ways, too. He may have writing or attention issues. If so, it’s appropriate to ask for a new evaluation to look at those areas too.
- The information from a previous evaluation was incomplete. It’s also possible that your child’s initial evaluation didn’t address all the areas it needed to. For instance, perhaps you learned your child has ADHD and the school put in place accommodations to help him focus. However, his impulsivity is also causing disruptions in the classroom. If a behavior assessment wasn’t part of the original evaluation, you may need to request a new evaluation to get one.
- Your child is headed to college soon. To get accommodations and support in college, most college disability services offices require that your child have been evaluated recently. This typically means no more than one or two years ago. If your child’s last evaluation was years ago, it’s a good idea to ask for a reevaluation before he leaves for college. You may also want to ask his future college how recent an evaluation needs to be. Also, a reevaluation in high school can provide helpful information for his IEP transition plan.
Considering and Requesting a Reevaluation
Just like an initial evaluation, a reevaluation can be an involved process. It takes time and effort from you, your child and school staff. Before starting a reevaluation, it’s important to think carefully about why it’s needed. You’ll also want to spend some time thinking about how you’ll explain the reevaluation to your child.
You can always ask school staff for their thoughts and advice. Having a good working relationship with your child’s IEP team can help ensure he’s reevaluated when the need arises.
Learn how to request an evaluation. Explore your rights in the evaluation process. And read one parent’s story about the surprise of getting a second diagnosis for her son when he was reevaluated.