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MARESA Evaluation

Munising Public Schools

Specific Learning Disabilities
Evaluation Procedures
 August 2010
 
 
 
Table of Contents
 
Page
Federal, State and MARESA Guidelines and Recommendations
3
Determining SLD
7
Documentation for SLD Determination
15
SLD Evaluation Resources
17
     Suggested Questions for Parent Input
18
     Teacher Anecdotal Reports (Secondary/Intermediate, Elementary)
22
     Classroom / Academic Observation Checklists (Preschool/Kindergarten, Grades 1-4,    
     5- 8. 9-12)
23
     Worksheet for Charting Patterns of Strengths and Weaknesses, Suggested Guidelines
     for Determining Strengths and Weakness, and Examples of Published Assessments
34
     Worksheet to Determine Appropriate Instruction
36
     Exclusionary Factors Worksheet for SLD
37
     Initial Evaluation Report for SLD – Example
38
     Re-evaluation Report -  Blank and Example
44
     SLD Eligibility Recommendation Form for MET Report
47
     Worksheet for Evaluating Explicit Instruction and Systematic Curriculum
49
      Program/Instruction Fidelity Observation Checklist
51

Evaluation for Specific Learning Disabilities
 
 
Recent changes in federal special education rules and regulations indicate that states may consider the use of an RtI model for identifying students with specific learning disabilities as an alternative to the discrepancy model. Language from IDEA-2004, §300.307, states, in part: 
 
(a) A State must adopt … criteria for determining whether a child has a specific learning disability . . . In addition, the criteria adopted by the State –
(1) Must not require the use of severe discrepancy between intellectual ability and achievement for determining whether a child has a specific learning disability . . .
(2) Must permit the use of a process based on the child’s response to scientific, research-based intervention; . . .
 
Language from IDEA implementing regulation 34 CFR 300.309 Determining the existence of a specific learning disability, states, in part:
 
                (a) The group described in...300.306 may determine that a child has a specific learning disability...if
            (1) The child does not achieve adequately for the child's age or to meet State-approved grade-level standards in one or more of the following areas, when provided with learning experiences and instruction appropriate for the child's age or State-approved grade-level standards...
            (2)(i) The child does not make sufficient progress to meet age or State-approved grade-level standards in one or more of the areas...when using a process based on the child's response to scientific, research-based intervention; or
            (2)(ii) The child exhibits a pattern of strengths and weaknesses in performance, achievement, or both, relative to age, State-approved grade-level standards, or intellectual development determined by the group to be relevant to the identification of a specific learning disability...
 
In September, 2008, Michigan finalized rules to address the requirement that states adopt criteria for determining specific learning disability. Language mirrors federal language in §300.8(b)(10):
 
R 340.1713 Specific learning disability defined; determination.
Rule 13. (1) "Specific learning disability" means a disorder in 1 or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. Specific learning disability does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, of cognitive impairment, of emotional impairment, of autism spectrum disorder, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.
(2) In determining whether a student has a learning disability, the state shall:
(a) Not require the use of a severe discrepancy between intellectual ability and achievement.
(b) Permit the use of a process based on the child's response to scientific, research-based intervention.
(c) Permit the use of other alternative research-based procedures.
 
 
 
 
R 340.1713 also adds the following language that mirrors federal language in §300.309:
 
(3) A determination of learning disability shall be based upon a comprehensive evaluation by a multidisciplinary evaluation team, which shall include at least both of the following:
(a) The student's general education teacher or, if the student does not have a general education teacher, a general education teacher qualified to teach a student of his or her age or, for a child of less than school age, an individual qualified by the state educational agency to teach a child of his or her age.
(b) At least 1 person qualified to conduct individual diagnostic examinations of children, such as a school psychologist, an authorized provider of speech and language under R 340.1745(d), or a teacher consultant.
 
In a letter of clarification to the field, dated January 22, 2009, Dr. Jacquelyn Thompson, Michigan Director of the Office of Special Education and Early Intervention Services, indicates three processes that may be used by the field in the evaluation of Specific Learning Disabilities including the following:
 
1)      Consideration of a severe discrepancy, but only as one part of a full and individual evaluation. Severe discrepancy may never be used alone to determine a student eligible as a student with a SLD.”
2)      Response to scientific, research based intervention. Dr. Thompson notes that, depending on the local district’s practice, this process may have a variety of names; e.g., Instructional Consultation Team, Response to Intervention, Michigan’s Integrated Behavior and Learning Support Initiative. The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) does not mandate any specific scientific, research-based intervention process.”
3)      Pattern of strengths and weaknesses. “The MDE does notmandate any specific process to determine a pattern of strengths and weaknesses. Any determination of SLD requires a full comprehensive evaluation according to the evaluation procedures in the federal regulations at §300.301 – §300.311, including those particular to a student suspected of having a SLD in §300.307 – §300.311.”
 
     MARESA Recommendation:
 
Given federal and stated guidelines to the field, Michigan districts have options for establishing eligibility for students suspected of having a specific learning disability. As part of a comprehensive evaluation it is recommended that the evaluation team:
 
  • Use the data from a response to intervention (RtI) process in its consideration of eligibility for SLD; or when RtI is not implemented,
  • Use assessment results to determine whether a child exhibits a pattern of strengths and weaknesses in performance, achievement, or both, relative to age, State-approved grade-level standards, or intellectual development. The use of a severe discrepancy between achievement and intellectual ability may be used as a portion of the data to establish a pattern of strengths and weaknesses.
Comprehensive Evaluation
Federal commentary makes it clear that RtI is only one component of the evaluation. “Determining why a child has not responded to research-based interventions requires a comprehensive evaluation,” and cites §300.304(b) which requires that a special education evaluation include a variety of assessments.
An RTI process does not replace the need for a comprehensive evaluation. A public agency must use a variety of data gathering tools and strategies even if an RTI process is used. The results of an RTI process may be one component of the information reviewed as part of the evaluation procedures required under §§ 300.304 and 300.305. As required in § 300.304(b), consistent with section 614(b)(2) o the Act, an evaluation must include a variety of assessment tools and strategies and cannot rely on any single procedure as the sole criterion for determining eligibility for special education and related services.
 71 Fed Reg. 46,648
 
Comprehensive assessment requires:
·        “a variety of assessment tools and strategies to gather relevant functional, developmental and academic information about the child, including information provided by the parent,”                                                                         §300.304(b)(1)
·        “assess[ment] in all areas related to suspected disability, including, if appropriate, health, vision, hearing, social/emotional status; general intelligence; academic performance; communicative status; motor abilities;”                    §300.304(c)(4)
·        “assessment sufficiently comprehensive to identify all of the child’s special education and related services needs, whether or not commonly linked to the disability category in which the child has been classified.”           §300.304(c)(6)
·        “information from a variety of sources, including aptitude and achievement tests, parent input and teacher recommendations, as well as information about the child’s physical condition, social or cultural background, and adaptive behavior;”        §300.306(c)(1)
 
The evaluation for SLD eligibility is completed for two purposes, to clarify eligibility and to define the starting point for further interventions. Words in the federal regulations include “relevant”, “if appropriate”, indicating the need for evaluation planning to determine the scope of an evaluation which must include “ruling in”:
 
·        Inadequate achievement and progress in age and/or grade level content
·        Adverse impact to the point that the child requires special education and/or related services.
 
and “ruling out”:
 
·        Inadequate achievement due to other disabilities/factors
·        Inadequate achievement due to lack of appropriate instruction
 
The evaluation provides the basis for further instruction by establishing the present level of academic achievement and functional performance (PLAAFP), which includes:
 
1.      Data and other specific descriptive information on the student’s current academic performance, indicating both strengths and areas of need.
2.      Data and other specific descriptive information on functional skills, including behavior, communication, motor, daily living or other skills related to school and age appropriate activities.
3.      Defining specific needs that are a priority for the student’s learning or support in the general education program.
4.      Describing the impact of the characteristics of the student’s disability on his/her performance and access to the general education curriculum and setting which will lead to decisions on supports, accommodations and modifications that are necessary for the student’s participation in general education instruction and activities.
 Initiation of Evaluations and Timelines: 
  
(c) The public agency must promptly request parental consent to determine if the child needs special education and related services, and must adhere to the timeframes described in §§300.301 and 300.303, unless extended by mutual written agreement of the child's parents and a group of qualified professionals, as described in §300.306(a)(1)-
(1) If, prior to a written referral, a child has not made adequate progress after and appropriate period of time when provided instruction, as described in paragraphs (b)(1) and (b)(2) of this section; and 
(2) Whenever a child is referred for an evaluation. 
     
 
Michigan rules, which specify 30 school days from consent to holding an IEP meeting, must be followed unless the parent and district mutually agree to extend the timeline. This request can be made in the event that the evaluation will address response to intervention after the request for an evaluation.
 
Further, the district is required to address the question of disability if a student has not made progress after an appropriate period of time with appropriate intervention. The length of time may vary, depending on the circumstances, but the district should not delay unnecessarily once a disability is suspected.
 
Although extended evaluation timelines may be requested in order to implement appropriate interventions and collect data on the student’s response, if a parent does not agree to extending the timeline, then the evaluation must proceed and an IEP team meeting convened within the 30 school days allowed under state rules. Whether eligibility can be determined will depend on whether the IEP team has the necessary rule-in, rule-out, and documentation data required for SLD identification.
 

IDEA 2004 Regulation, §300.309- Determining Specific Learning Disability
§300.309 serves as the key regulation in the framework of determining SLD eligibility and defines elements of the evaluation process.
 
I.   Establish lack of achievement relative to age or state approved grade level standards, when provided with appropriate learning experiences and instruction. 
 
Evaluation of current data and further evaluation must establish and document:
 
·        Inadequate achievement relative either to age level or grade level standards.
·        Appropriate instruction
 
Federal rule specifies that eligibility evaluation must address the age appropriate instruction that the student has received and the achievement of the student related to grade level standards. Although age is one variable, the emphasis on state approved grade level standards reflects the priority that all instruction for students address grade level content standards.
 
 
 
§300.309 Determiningh the existence of a sdpecific learning deisability.
(a) The group described in §300.306 may determine that a child has a specific learning disability, as defined in §300.8(c)(10), if--
(1) The child does not achieve adequately for the child's age or to meet State-approved grade-level standardsin one or more of the folowing areas, when providid with learning experiences and instruction appropriate for the child's age or State-approved grade-level standards:
(i)Oral expression.
(ii)Listening comprehension.
(iii) Written expression.
(iv) Basic reading skill.
(v) Reading fluency skills.
(vi) Reading Comprehension.
(vii) Mathematics calculation.
(viii) Mathematics problem solving.

Reading fluency has been added to the list of potential LD concerns, further defining areas in the reading process. USDOE discussion accompanying issuance of the IDEA 2004 implementing regulations notes that fluency assessments are “very brief and highly relevant to instruction”. However, USDOE discussion also supports the relevance of standardized testing, stating that, “nothing in the Act or these regulations would preclude the eligibility group from considering results from standardized tests when making eligibility determinations.”
Although the federal regulations do not define standards for “appropriate instruction”, the USDOE does note that such instruction has the following characteristics:
·        Scientifically research based
·        Provided by qualified personnel
·        Student progress data is systematically collected and analyzed
 
II. Demonstrate insufficient progress to meet age or grade level standards.
Documentation that the student is not making adequate progress, subsections 2(i) and (ii) may be completed in one of two ways: (1) determine that the student has not responded, despite the provision of high quality, individualized general education instructional interventions, or (2) by demonstrating a pattern of strengths and weaknesses, given appropriate instruction.
(2)(i) The child does not make sufficient progress to meet age or State approved grade-level standards in one or more of the following areas identified in paragraph (a)(1) of this section when using a process based on the child's response to scientific, research-based intervention; or
(ii)The child exhibits a pattern of strengths and weaknesses in performance, achievement, or baoth, relative to age, State-approved grade-level standards, or intellectual development, that is determined by the group to be relevant to the identification of a specific learning disability, using appropriate assessments, consistent with 300.304 and 300.305;
 
 
Response to scientific, research-based intervention (RtI)
The federal regulations do not specify what research based interventions must be used, and leave the State with flexibility to determine criteria to best meet local needs. Resources such as the Florida Center for Reading Research, at: www.fcrr.org, provide a listing of current research based interventions. Guidance on research based practices may also be found in Response to Intervention: Enhancing the Learning of All Children, published by the Michigan Assoc. of Administrators of Special Education.
 
Michigan’s Integrated Behavior and Learning Support Initiative (MiBLSi) is an initiative through the Michigan Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Early Intervention Services and helps schools create a “culture” where staff teaches academic success and behavior success. Marquette and Alger county schools and districts are implementing RtI, with many districts utilizing MiBLSi training provided by MARESA, with the goal of increasing student reading performance and behavior performance. Staff is trained to:
 
1.       Monitor student reading and behavior performance
·         Access dynamic data collection systems that provide staff with performance indicators in reading and behavior that are accurate and timely – for example, the School Wide Information System (SWIS™) and the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS™).
2.      Make decisions based on data
·         Develop and implement reading and behavior interventions using student performance indicators
·         Evaluate intervention effectiveness through ongoing data collection and progress monitoring
Pattern of strengths and weaknesses
Determining a pattern of strengths and weaknesses is the second option described by federal regulations. This option, although not required, may be used in districts when an RtI option is not appropriate or feasible. RtI often requires that the district systematically implement the methodology over a period of time, establish district norms and determine procedures for providing Tier 2 and 3 interventions. At this time, RtI is not possible for all areas included in the SLD definition. Also, there may be students arriving in the district in need of evaluation who have not had the opportunity to be evaluated with reference to a systematic intervention process.
The pattern of strengths and weaknesses alternative is based on assessment and a review of achievement scores and performance in a variety of academic areas, with documentation of patterns of strength as compared to other areas where the student demonstrates a pattern of significant academic concerns, relative to the child’s expected abilities. Assessment documents the student’s performance and achievement related to Michigan standards and benchmarks either at the student’s age level, or assigned grade level. As with RtI, assessment includes review of research based interventions and student achievement on State approved content.
Districts must establish local standards for implementing either an RtI process or establishing a pattern of strengths and weaknesses (PSW). Marquette-Alger RESA has provided an RtI structure, as defined in this manual. Parameters for assessment results are provided as a way of standardizing PSW decision making within and among school districts. Local guidelines for PSW are included in the following documents:
 
1.      Local Guidance for Determining SLD Eligibility: Using ‘patterns of strengths and weaknesses’
2.      Charting Patterns of Strengths and Weaknesses
            This guidance is based on the following assumptions:
 
·           All children must be offered age appropriate instruction that is directly related to grade level content expectations.
·           Even though the school may not have the capacity to fully implement a RtI process, interventions are most appropriately offered based on a three-tier model.
·          Establishing a pattern of strengths and weaknesses involves classroom performance documentation along with curriculum-based, criterion-referenced and/or norm referenced academic/intellectual assessment.
 
Selecting Response to Intervention (RtI) or Patterns of Strengths and Weaknesses (PSW)
 
As noted above, decision-making on which process to use to document achievement and learning needs will depend on district policies, status of RtI implementation; staff training, specific areas of concern, length of time the child has attended district programming, and grade level interventions. The following rules are suggested in determining whether to use RtI or PSW in establishing achievement levels and documenting interventions:
 
Rule #1: If you have the ability to use the RtI option, this is the default approach
  ·        District policies support the use of the RtI as an intervention approach; and,
  ·        District implementation reflects the 8 core principles (see manual introduction).
 
Rule #2: Use PSW if:
·        RtI is not being used or is not fully implemented in the skill area of suspected disability
·        RtI is not being used or is not fully implemented at the child’s grade level
·        The parent requests a special education evaluation and will not extend timelines to accommodate recommended implementation of tier interventions and timelines.
Once a decision has been made as to which process to use, this choice by the IEP team should be reflected on the Evaluation Plan. 
 
 
 
 
Local Guidance for Determining SLD Eligibility: Using ‘patterns of strengths and weaknesses’
 
  1. The new regulations (300.309(a)(2)(ii) state: “The child exhibits a pattern of strengths and weaknesses in performance, achievement, or both, relative to age, State-approved grade-level standards, or intellectual development, that is determined by the group to be relevant to the identification of a specific learning disability, using appropriate assessments, consistent with 300.304 and 300.305.” (300.304 describes assessment requirements and 300.305 describes the evaluation planning process.)
  2. Definitions:
    1. Performance – actual performance in the classroom, as assessed by the students in-class assessment results, grades, teacher anecdotals and observations.
    2. Achievement – results on curriculum-based measurement (e.g., DIBELS), criterion-referenced assessment (e.g., Brigance), norm-referenced (e.g., Woodcock-Johnson Achievement Tests), and state (MEAP) assessments.
    3. Intellectual Development – the student’s cognitive and functional skills, as assessed by IQ tests, functional skill surveys, interviews and observations. 
  3. When to use ‘patterns of strengths and weaknesses’ to determine eligibility:
  4. When a school does not have the capacity to implement Tier 3 interventions.
  5. In learning disability areas in which the school does not have a three-tier intervention process. For example, a school may use the three-tier intervention process for reading and math, but not for writing, oral expression or listening comprehension.
  6. In grades in which the school does not use a three-tier intervention process. For example, a school may use the three-tier process in grades K – 6, but not in grades 7 – 12.
  7. The school uses a scientifically, research-based core programs that was implemented with fidelity with the referred student.
  8. The school tried differentiated instruction techniques with fidelity with the referred student for a period of 8 to 12 weeks.
  9. The school tried a scientifically, research-based Tier 2 intervention that was implemented with fidelity with the referred student for at least 12 weeks.
  10. During the Tier 2 intervention, the school used weekly progress monitoring to evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention and attempted to modify the intervention after each 3-4 weeks of poor progress.
  11. That when using the ‘Charting the Patterns of Strengths and Weaknesses’ page, a student shall have a least 4 weak boxes checked and at least one other academic area considered a strength (with at least 3 boxes checked as being a strength) and/or the intellectual/functional box checked as a strength to be considered eligible for special education services. The IEP team shall determine if the student’s weakness warrant special education services.
  12. When determining age-based achievement and performance, the evaluator should consider whether or not the student has received appropriate instruction for those age-based skills. For example, can a student retained in second grade be compared with third grade students if that student never received third grade instruction?
  13. If the student’s weak areas are primarily in performance rather than in achievement (i.e., the student has the academic skill but does not do the work in the classroom), then the school should consider different types of interventions other than academic (e.g., motivation).
  14. Probably the best way to actually ‘catch up’ the student’s academic skills with his peers is using a Tier 3 intervention (whether delivered in general education or special education) along with continued Tier 1 instruction.
  15. If a student is placed into special education and the intent of the school is to catch the student up academically, the student’s instructional time for that area should not be reduced from what it was when the student was only receiving general education services.
  16. Suggested requirements for using ‘patterns of strengths and weaknesses’ to determine SLD eligibility:
  17. Other notes:
 
III: Rule out of exclusionary factors
The evaluation team must address and rule out other factors as the primary cause of the child’s learning difficulties, including:
 
·        Inadequate achievement due to other disabilities/factors
·        Inadequate achievement due to lack of appropriate instruction

 
Presence of other disabilities/factors
 
(3) The group determines that it's findings under paragraphs (a)(1) and (2) of this section are not primarily the result of--
(i) A visual, hearing, or motor disability:
(ii) Cognitive Impairment;
(iii) Emotional Impairment;
(iv) Cultural Factors;
(v) Environmentsl or economis disadvantage; or
(vi) Limited English proficency.
 
 
Visual, hearing or motor disability- Ruling these areas out as the primary cause of underachievement may involve district screening results; teacher and parent input; or evaluation by a family physician, ophthalmologist, optometrist, audiologist, otolaryngologist, or neurologist, OT, PT or other evaluation staff.
 
Cognitive Impairment- The evaluation report must include data that would allow the IEP Team to determine whether cognitive impairment was the primary cause of the underachievement and either lack of progress or pattern of weakness. This could be done by affirmatively assessing for cognitive impairment or by record review information that would be contraindicative of such an impairment.  
Emotional Impairment- The evaluation report must include data that would allow the IEP Team to determine whether an emotional impairment is the primary cause of the student’s learning problems. Again, this could be done by affirmatively assessing for emotional impairment or by record review information that would be contraindicative of such an impairment or such a primary role.
Cultural, environmental or economic disadvantage- The evaluation must establish the primary cause of the disability and must rule out causative factors not related to disability, such as:
·          Poor school attendance or frequent school changes causing lack of appropriate instruction due to inconsistent instruction or gaps in learning.
·          Family stressors, including pressures from family situations or poverty should be eliminated as factors causing interruption or interference in learning.
·          Cultural or ethnic background different from the norm or majority group should be considered both as a factor which may cause interference in approaching learning or as a factor in the perceptions of those who work with the child.
 
Limited English proficiency- English language learners who do not achieve commensurate with other children their age, despite research based interventions may be referred for special education evaluation and services. However, assessment must consider the child’s cultural and language differences:
 
·          Selection must be non-discriminatory with respect to race and culture
·          Administration must be in the child’s native language or in a form that will best estimate the child’s abilities.
Lack of Appropriate Instruction:
Federal guidance indicates that “children should not be identified as having a disability before concluding that their performance deficits are not the result of a lack of appropriate instruction.” Although the child is not required to have any specific research based instruction prior to identification, the evaluation team must be able to conclude that lack of appropriate instruction is not the determinant factor in the child’s underachievement. The student may be provided with interventions either prior to the evaluation or as a part of the evaluation process.
   
 (b) To ensure that under achievement in a child suspected of having a specific learning disability is not due to lack of appropriate instruction in reading or math, the group must consider, as part of the evaluation described in §§300.304 through §§300.306--
(1) Data that demonstrate that prior to, or as a part of, the referral process, the child was provided appropriate instruction in regular education settings, delivered by regular personnel; and
(2) Data-based documentation of repeated assessments of achievement at reasonable intervals, reflecting formal assessments of student progress during instruction, which was provided to the child's parents.
 
 
SLD eligibility requirements specify the need for documentation of appropriate instruction in the regular education setting by qualified personnel. The regulation notes that data may describe instruction prior to, or as part of the referral process.
Examples of appropriate instruction documents:
 
·        Chronology of student’s educational history-
o       Teacher anecdotal records
o       Grade retentions
o       Attendance
o       Grades
·        General Education Curriculum
o       5 essential components of reading- phonemic awareness, phonics knowledge, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension
o       Math- conceptual understanding, computational and procedural fluency, fact fluency and problem solving skills.
o       District’s curriculum is aligned with state standards
·        Fidelity of instruction
o       80% of students within the classroom are meeting state/district standards
o       Differentiated instruction, universal design principles
o       Multi-tiered intervention practices
o       Individual instructional practices
o       Staff training in effective instructional programs / strategies.
o       Observation of classroom instruction or the use of checklists by teachers, peers or content specialists
 
 
Intervention during evaluation demonstrates:
 
·        Research-based intervention- nature, frequency and duration
·        Highly qualified teachers
·        Results of interventions
 
New to the SLD regulations is the requirement to provide data based documentation of repeated assessments of achievement, with the following characteristics:
 
·        Reasonable intervals
·        Formal assessment of student progress during instruction
·        Provided to parents
 
NOT Just the MEAP: Language regarding reasonable intervals implies that yearly MEAP assessment would not meet this criterion. Rather, the district will want to demonstrate practices that might include universal screening, curriculum based measurement, and progress monitoring, the results of which are shared periodically with the parent.
 
It should also be noted that, although §300.309(b) refers specifically to reading and math, the regulations also require that the student be provided with learning experiences and instruction appropriate for the child’s age or State-approved grade level standards in all areas being considered for SLD eligibility. Best practice would indicate that the documentation required in §300.309(b) would also apply to instruction in the other areas of eligibility.
 
 
IDEA 2004 Regulation, §300.310, Observation
 
When considering the presence of a Specific Learning Disability, the district must ensure that observations document the student’s academic performance and behavior in the area(s) of difficulty.

§ 300.310 Observation.
(a) The public agency must ensure that the child is observed in the child’s learning environment (including the regular classroom setting) to document the child’s academic performance and behavior in the areas of difficulty.
(b) The group described in § 300.306(a)(1), in determining whether a child has a specific learning disability, must decide to—
(1) Use information from an observation in routine classroom instruction and monitoring of the child’s performance that was done before the child was referred for an evaluation; or
(2) Have at least one member of the group described in § 300.306(a)(1) conduct an observation of the child’s academic performance in the regular classroom after the child has been referred for an evaluation and parental consent, consistent with § 300.300(a), is obtained.
(c) In the case of a child of less than school age or out of school, a group member must observe the child in an environment appropriate for a child of that age.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
During the evaluation planning process, the evaluation team and the parent must determine whether the documentation of observations will include information gained prior to the initiation of the formal evaluation or if observations will be conducted as part of the evaluation plan. Observations must occur in the regular classroom, specific to the academic performance area of concern. Exceptions to observations occurring in the regular classroom include:
 
·        Students who are out of school due to disciplinary or health reasons
·        Older students who had previous eligibility but have been out of school for an extended period of time.
·        Younger students who are not yet attending K-12 programming.
 
Regulations specify that, given exceptional circumstances, the child must be observed in an age appropriate environment.
 
 
 
§ 300.311 Documentation for Specific Learning Disability Determination
 
§ 300.311 provides a checklist for required elements of a written report documenting the evaluation team’s decision regarding eligibility of SLD.
 
§300.311 Specific documentation for the eligibility determination.
(a) For a child suspected of having a specific leatning disability, the documentation of the determination of eligibility, as required in §300.306(a)(2), must contain a statement of--
(1) Whether the child has a specific learning disability;
(2) The basis for making the determination, including as assurance that the determination has been made in accordance with §300.306(c)(1);
(3) The relevant behavior, if any, noted during the observation of the child and the relationship of that behavior to the child's academic functioning;
(4) The educationally relevant medical findings, if any;
(5) Whether--
(i) The child does not achieve adequately for the child's age or to meet State-approved grade-level standards consistent with §300.309(a)(1); and
(ii) (A) The child does not make sufficient progress to meet age or State approved grade-level standards consistent with § 300.309(a)(2)(i); or
(B) The child exhibits a pattern of strengths and weakness in performance, achievement, or both, relative to age, State-approved standards or intellectual development consistent with § 300.309(a)(2)(ii);
(6) The determination of the group concerning the effects of a visual, hearing, or environmental or economic disadvantage; or limited English proficency on the child's achievement level; and
(7) If the child has participated in a process that assesses the child's response to scientific, researched-based intervention--
(i) The instructional strategies used and the student-centered data collected; and
(ii) The documentation that the child's parents were notified about--
(A) The state's policies regarding the amount and nature of student performance data that would be collected and the general education services tht would be provided;
(B) Strategies for increasing the child's rate of learning; and
(C) The parents' right to request and evaluation.
(b) Each group member must certify in writing whether the report reflects the member's conclusion.  If it does not reflect the member's conclusion, the group must submit a separate statement presenting the member's conclusions.
 
 Documentation must include:
 
  1. Statement of eligibility, or lack of eligibility, for specific learning disability
  2. Basis for the determination of eligibility
  3. Assurance that during the determination process the district:
    1. Collected information from a variety of sources, including aptitude and achievement tests, parent input and teacher recommendations, information about the child’s physical condition, social or cultural background and adaptive behavior.
    2. Documented and carefully considered information obtained from a variety of sources.
  4. Relevant behavior noted in observations, and the relationship of the behavior to the child’s academic functioning.
  5. Relevant medical findings.
  6. Achievement measured to age expectations or state-approved grade level standards.
  7. Progress monitoring related to age or grade level standards.
or
  1. Determination of a pattern of strengths and weaknesses in performance, achievement or both, relative to age, State-approved grade level standards or intellectual development.
  2. Determination of exclusionary factors
  3. If the child participated in a process that assesses the child’s response to scientific, research-based (or, if necessary, best practice) interventions, documentation of:
    1. Instructional strategies utilized
    2. Student-centered data collected
    3. Parent notification about:
                                                               i.      State policies regarding RtI criteria- data and services requirements (Note: the SLD rule, R 340.1713, is Michigan’s policy.)
                                                             ii.      Strategies used for increasing the student’s rate of learning
                                                            iii.      Parent right to request an evaluation.
  1. Evaluation team members and parent must certify whether the report reflects the member’s conclusion.
    1. Members in disagreement must submit a separate statement presenting dissenting conclusions.
 

SLD Evaluation Resources
 
 
Page
 
Suggested Questions for Parent Input for Initial Evaluation and Re-evaluation
 
18
Teacher Anecdotal Reports (Secondary/Intermediate, Elementary)
 
22
Classroom / Academic Observation Checklists (Preschool/Kindergarten, Grades 1-4, 5-8. 9-12)
 
23
Worksheet for Charting Patterns of Strengths and Weaknesses, Suggested Guidelines for Determining Strengths and Weakness, and Examples of Published Assessments
 
34
Worksheet to Determine Appropriate Instruction
 
36
Exclusionary Factors Worksheet for SLD
 
37
Initial Evaluation Report for SLD – Example
 
38
Re-evaluation Report Blank and Example
 
44
SLD Eligibility Recommendation Form for MET Report
 
47
 Worksheet for Evaluating Explicit Instruction and Systematic Curriculum
 
49
Program/Instruction Fidelity Observation Checklist
51
 
 
 
Suggested Questions for Parent Input
 
⇒ Initial Evaluation Date__________          ⇒Re-evaluation Date_____________
 
⇒Re-evaluation Date______________         ⇒Re-evaluation Date_____________
(Parent should review their input from the initial evaluation and change or add information as needed at each re-evaluation.)
 
 
Questions Initial Evaluation Responses Date: Re-evaluation Responses Date: Re-evaluation Responses Date: Re-evaluation Responses Date:
1.  What are some of your child's strengths, interests and/or favorite activities?        
2.  What goal do you have for your child for this school year?  For older students, long range plans/goals?         
 3.  Have you seen improvement in your child's academic performance / behavior / speech and language during the past 3 years?
⇒ Yes    ⇒No Please describe:
       
 4.  Do you have any current concerns about your child's progress?        
 5.  Have you seen any recent changes in your child's behavior or school performance?
⇒ Yes   ⇒No
If yes please explain:
       
 6.  Medication Information:  Vision concerns?
Wears glasses?
Hearing concerns?
Wears hearing aid(s)?
Any other medical/health concerns?
Medical history: accidents, injuries, surgeries?
Take medication (Typr, reason, side effects)?
 
Any psychological (thinking/emotional) concerns?
 
 Vision concerns?Wears glass &n