Founder's Circle: News & Events

The IDEA Act and You: Advocating for Testing and Evaluation

As Naval Special Warfare service members defend our country abroad, I can’t help but reflect on how fortunate we are to live in this country. One of the many amazing opportunities we have as Americans is federal law that requires that our children’s educational needs be met. This is especially important for children with disabilities (IDEA 2004-https://sites.ed.gov/idea/).

These laws level the playing field and give ALL children the opportunities they need to learn. If you are concerned that your child has a learning disability or if they have always struggled and you don’t know why, you may want to consider asking your school for a full psychoeducational evaluation to determine if there is a learning disability. Your local school district is required to find all children that may have or may be suspected of having a disability through IDEA’s Child Find mandate.  Even if your child attends private school you may request testing for your child through your local public school system.

Our wonderful SEALKIDS advocates work with families from all over the country. I asked our west coast advocate, Alma Fowler, to share some tips about how she helps guide families through a testing request for their child.

  • Make your request brief and factual and send to teacher and your school’s special education coordinator
  • Follow up every conversation with the school and/or teacher with a summary of the discussion. Rule of thumb is “If it isn’t in writing, it didn’t happen.”
  • Keep your tone friendly
  • You should expect a written response within a week or two
  • If you don’t hear back from them, send them a follow-up email response stating the date you sent your request and asking when you can expect to hear from them. Call if you still don’t get a response.

 

Here is a sample letter that Alma shares with parents to help get them started:

 

Date

Dear (name of director or coordinator of special education):

My child (first and last name) is having a difficult time learning. (Include a brief description of your child’s struggles and the length of time these issues have been present. It is helpful for you to provide information on why you suspect there may be a learning disability or issues. Include any conversations and concerns you have discussed with teachers.) I am requesting that my child have a full and comprehensive educational evaluation, including evaluation for all learning disabilities. (Child’s name) is a ___ grader in Ms./Mrs./Mr. (teacher’s name) classroom at ______________School.

I understand that any information collected during current interventions with (child’s first name) will be completed and a meeting date will be set within the timeline as required by federal law. When I need to sign anything else for this evaluation to take place please send it to me at this email address. Thank you very much.  I look forward to hearing from you. I am available by phone (name the days and times).

Sincerely,
Parent signature
Parent name, address, phone number

The links below are a great place to familiarize yourself with the process. These resources may help you leverage everything your school can offer your child.

6 Steps to Request a Free School Evaluation (Understood.org)

IDEA Parent Guide from the National Center for Learning Disabilities

If your child is struggling, it is good to get these requests in quickly as spring approaches. Ideally, the testing, determination, and IEP can be completed by the end of the school year. That way, next year can start off with services in place from day one.

Everyone at SEALKIDS wishes you the very best as you shepherd your children through their academic hills and valleys. Try to enjoy the journey and utilize the resources IDEA and your school offer.

Blessings and thanks,

Suzanne