The Edvocate’s Definitive Guide to Multidisciplinary Evaluations

A multidisciplinary evaluation (MDE) is an assessment of a learner by at least two professionals, utilizing several evaluations. The assessment is used to decide if a kid qualifies for special services. The purpose of the initial MDE is to collect the information necessary to decide whether the kid has a disability that affects their learning and design a program in which the kid can make real progress. A kid can be eligible for special services even if they have been progressing from grade to grade. The purpose of a re-evaluation is to decide if the kid still needs special services, and whether the kid is making reasonable progress towards their goals – and, if not, what changes are needed.

As with kids of under school age, MDEs must decide whether they are eligible and what services the kid needs. Children over age three must be assessed within 60 days. The evaluation should include the kid’s level of functioning in each of the following development areas: cognitive, physical (including hearing and vision); communication; social and emotional; and self-care. With the parents’ consent, the evaluation should include assessing the family’s strengths and needs concerning helping the kid develop.

Is it Legal for My Kid Be Evaluated or Re-Evaluated Without My Consent?

Parental consent is necessary before an initial MDE or school evaluation can be completed. The school district must notify the family in writing of a proposed evaluation or re-evaluation. The notice must include, among other things, the basis for the proposed evaluation; the parents’ right to review the kid’s school records; the procedures and specific types of tests that will be used; and approximately when the tests will be administered. The school district cannot conduct an initial evaluation or a re-evaluation if the parents refuse consent. The school district can conduct a re-evaluation if the family fails to respond to the notice. Suppose parents do not consent to the initial MDE or re-evaluation. In that case, the district can ask a hearing officer to order it. A school district can review the existing data on a kid and administer a test or evaluation given to all kids without parental affirmation.

When Should I Ask for an MDE for My Kid?

If you think your kid has a disability and needs special education, you should ask the school district to give your kid an MDE. If your kid is already in special education, does not seem to be making progress, and you’re not sure why you may want to ask for a re-evaluation to help decide whether changes need to be made to the program. If the school district is proposing a significant change in your kid’s placement or program, which includes suspension of more than ten days in a row or 15 days in a school year, it first conducts an MDE. Re-evaluations must be administered every two years.

How Do I Request A MDE for My Kid?

Submit a signed letter to your kid’s principal, requesting an MDE for the evaluation or re-evaluation to be administered. Retain a copy of the letter. if you make the request verbally; the school district should give you a form and tell you to put your request in writing. A school district must assess (or re-assess) your kid within sixty school days of your written consent for the evaluation. If the school district doesn’t comply with these requirements, you can request a pre-hearing conference, a hearing, or file a complaint with the Division of Compliance.

What Types of Tests Will Be Used?

There are specific number or types of “tests” that must be given to a kid as part of an evaluation or re-evaluation. But the IEP Team must make sure that certain kinds of information are available and are considered during the evaluation or re-evaluation process: evaluations and information provided by the parents; current class-based assessments and observations; and information from the educators and therapists.

The IEP team must also ascertain if additional information is needed to decide whether the kid has a disability (or continues to have a disability) and needs special services; the kid’s present levels of performance and educational needs; and whether any additional services are needed for the kid to meet the measurable annual goals outlined in the IEP and to participate, as appropriate, in the general curriculum offered to all learners. If the IEP Team recommends that no additional info is needed to decide if the learner continues to be eligible for special education, the district must tell the parents and explain why. In that situation, the school district must also tell parents that they can request further assessments if they think they are necessary.

What’s Done With the Results?

The Team reviews all the info and composes a summary Report, often called a “Comprehensive Evaluation Report” or CER. The Team recommends whether the kid should receive special education and the type and amount of services needed. It would help if you were given a copy of the report within 15 days after it is finished.

You can disagree with the report and explain why. For instance, you may believe the wrong tests were used, that the results are inaccurate, or that other information is needed to help design a good program.

The MDE should answer the following questions, which will ensure that your child gets the support and services that they need:

  • Does your kid qualify for special education services?
  • In which areas does your kid have problems?
  • In which activities does your kid succeed, and what are their or their strengths?
  • What is your kid’s learning style (e.g., does they learn best through repetition? By having content presented in several ways?)?
  • What are your goals and objectives for your kid?
  • What specialized instruction should be used to help your kid learn?
  • If your kid already receives special education, have they or they made meaningful progress towards program goals?
  • If your kid has behavior problems, under what circumstances do those problems happen? How can issues be avoided, and what should happen when problems do happen?
  • What types of related services are needed? Does your kid need special equipment or other assistive technology? Does your kid need Extended School Year services?
  • What kinds of extra help will your kid (and teaching staff) need for your kid to succeed in the regular education environment?

What About Independent Evaluations?

If you feel that the school’s evaluations do not answer these questions, or if you disagree with the answers provided, you can ask that an independent evaluation of your kid be done at the school district’s expense. The alternative is that you can pay for the independent evaluation yourself and ask to be reimbursed. If school officials don’t agree to pay, a hearing must be scheduled. Regardless of who pays, the results of all independent evaluations must be considered by the MDE Team.

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