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Special Education Evaluation Procedures

The Canton Public Schools is responsible for actively locating, identifying and evaluating all children between the ages of 3 and 21 who may be eligible for special education services due to the existence of an area of disability. The people who might refer a student for evaluation include parents or guardians, pediatricians, the student assistance team, and private community providers.

On a regular basis throughout the school year, the Early Childhood team screens children between the 2.5 and 5 years old. Kindergarten screening takes place in the spring prior to the year of enrollment. The school-aged child who raises concerns related to his or her school performance may be referred by school personnel to the building Instructional Support Team in an effort to obtain information relative to the student's learning profile. The team may refer a student for a special education evaluation once all supplemental instructional support efforts have been exhausted. Parents may refer their child for an evaluation at any time.

Special education services are mandated by state and federal laws and are reserved for students who have disabilities that cause difficulty in learning. The presence of a disability alone does not mean that a student is eligible for special education services. A 504 accommodation plan may be developed when regular education is appropriate.

To determine special education eligibility, the evaluation team must review and answer the following questions:

1. Does the student have one or more than one disability
A disabling condition is characterized by significant delays, impairments, or limitations in the student's capacity(ies).

2. Is the student making effective progress in school?

3. Is the lack of progress due to the disability?

4. Does the student require special education in order to make effective progress? (Specially designed instruction means that there is a need to modify the content, methodology, delivery of instruction and or performance criteria in order for a student to make effective progress.)

The results of a comprehensive battery of assessments including teacher reports, specialist evaluations, and information from parents help us answer these questions. No evaluations, however, may be conducted without parental consent.

A complete Educational Assessment may include:

  • A history of the student's educational progress in the general curriculum.
  • Information relative to the student's current performance in relation to the learning standards of the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks.
  • Information relative to the pre-referral activities which have taken place on behalf of the student's rights.
  • Information regarding the student's attention skills, participation behaviors, communications skills memory and social relations with groups, peers and adults.
  • Observational information about the student.
  • Information related to the students attendance or avoidance, participation in extracurricular civilities and documentation of any support activities that may have taken place prior to referral.
  • A narrative description of the student's educational and/or developmental potential.

An evaluation or educational team will will be led by a chairperson and may include staff in the roles of special educator, general education educator, ESL educator, speech pathologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, reading specialist, vision or hearing specialist, behavior specialist, adjustment counselor, school nurse, building principal and school psychologist.

Assessment information must be comprehensive and sufficient to allow the educational team to accomplish the following:

  1. Determine the presence or absence of a type of disability based upon a handicapping condition and eligibility for special education services under the federal guidelines.
  2. Evaluate various factors related to the students performance in school.
  3. Plan appropriate services to respond to the student's needs.

The Canton Public Schools, like all school districts, is required to provide a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive enviroment (LRE) to all students with disabilities in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilitities Education ACT (IDEA). With the provision of a free and appropriate public education, students, their parents/guardians and school systems are guaranteed due process rights. Thus our school district must follow certain procedural safeguards including pre-referral process, identification of disability area based on a special education evaluation, annual review of individualized education programs and the implementation of Section 504 Accommodation Plans under the Americans with Disabilities Act, where applicable. We are committed to the provision of equitable access to learning through the provision of a range of services and specialized expertise.

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