The purpose of the identification process is to assure that students who are experiencing difficulties in school academically, functionally, or behaviorally are properly identified and provided with the appropriate support services. The process also allows for a consistent and thorough process for staff to follow in which the multidisciplinary team reviews existing student records, accumulated information, and additional screenings that may need to be completed in order to provide an appropriate direction for the student to be successful in the general education curriculum. This process also provides documentation of efforts and various strategies tried in the general education program.
- Prior to a student being identified for special education services, the District will provide a variety of strategies and interventions in the regular education classroom.
- Teachers and/or parents may refer students who continue to have difficulty learning or who are thought to be gifted to the principal or Supervisor of Special Education. If parents wish to request an evaluation for their child, they must send a written letter to the Director of Special Education.
- The Instructional Support Team (IST) team will review the students information and academic data. The team will also discuss what strategies and interventions have been attempted and identify other ideas to be tried. The team will formulate instructional plans that include goals, activities, and timelines. The IST team typically consists of the guidance counselor, principal, general education teacher, IST coordinator, parents, and other interventionists and support staff. To identify students who may be eligible for special education, various screening activities are conducted on an ongoing basis. These screening activities include: review of group-based data (cumulative records, enrollment records, health records, report cards, ability and achievement test scores); hearing, vision, physical, and speech/language screening.
- The IST team monitors the plan for a reasonable time period depending on the need. They will adjust as needed in order to try new ideas and allow the student to be successful in the goals and classroom. Progress is reviewed every few weeks.
- The last step of the IST process would be to refer the student for a multidisciplinary evaluation (MDE).
- A permission to evaluate will be sent to the student's parents to gain consent to conduct various assessments in order to determine if a disability is present and is need of specially designed instruction.
- Once the permission to evaluate is received by the district office, the MDE team has 60 calendar days to complete the evaluation and present the evaluation report (ER) to the parents/guardians.
- To qualify as a student with a disability the child must be of school age, in need of specially designed instruction, and meet eligibility criteria for one or more of the following physical or mental disabilities, as set forth in Pennsylvania State standards: autism, blindness/visual impairment, deafness/hearing impairment, deaf blindness, orthopedic impairment, multiple disabilities, traumatic brain injury, mental retardation, other health impairment, emotional disturbance, specific learning disability and speech/language impairment.
- Students identified with a disability and in need of specially designed instruction will have individualized education programs (IEPs) developed. This must be completed within 30 days of the MDE meeting.