Administrative Advisory SPED 2019-2
|To:||Superintendents, Administrators of Special Education, Executive Directors of Collaboratives and Executive and Program Directors of Approved Special Education Schools|
|From:||Russell Johnston, Senior Associate Commissioner|
|Date:||April 1, 2019|
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has received numerous questions from special education directors, directors of approved special education schools and other stakeholders regarding the use of extended evaluations, particularly when the extended evaluation is conducted at an approved special education school or in a collaborative program setting. For example, DESE is often asked if such an extended evaluation should be treated as a placement for the student being evaluated. Therefore, DESE is issuing this advisory to provide clarification regarding the use of extended evaluations in public schools, educational collaboratives and approved special education schools pursuant to 603 C.M.R. 28.05(2)(b).
In order to collect specific information about current practices in the use of extended evaluations, DESE distributed a survey to special education administrators, directors of education collaboratives and directors of approved special education schools. Through the survey, DESE gathered information about topics such as the timeframe commonly associated with completing extended evaluations, the forms that districts typically employed, and where students went once the extended evaluation was completed. DESE used the data collected from the survey to develop this advisory.
The Massachusetts Special Education regulations provide that, within 45 school working days after receiving parental consent to an initial evaluation or reevaluation, the school district shall conduct an evaluation and convene a Team meeting to review the data, determine whether the student needs special education, and if so, develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP).1 If the Team determines the student is eligible but finds that the evaluation information is insufficient or requires clarification in order to develop a full IEP, the Team may consider an extended evaluation.2 The purpose of the extended evaluation is to gather additional information to enable the Team to write a full IEP for the student. It is not to be used to complete the required assessments that should have been completed by the school district within the 45 days after receiving parental consent.3 The extended evaluation may last longer than one week but shall not exceed eight school weeks.4 An extended evaluation is not a placement.5
Extended Evaluation Process
If the Team has determined that a student is eligible for special education and that an extended evaluation is appropriate, the Team shall write a partial IEP with the information available.6 In the “additional information” section of the IEP form 7, the school district should specify that an extended evaluation is being conducted and list the assessment(s), location of where the extended evaluation will take place, and the estimated date of completion. In addition, the school district must complete an Extended Evaluation Form (EE-1 and EE-2)8. On this form, the district will indicate the current evaluation findings, what assessments need to be completed, the location where the extended evaluations will be completed, the anticipated completion date, among other required information. The school district must also complete all sections of the Administrative Data Sheet (ADM-1)9 form. The “assigned school information” section of the ADM-1 form should list the school of origin not the location of the extended evaluation, if other than the school of origin. The school district should attach the ADM-1 form to the partial IEP and the Extended Evaluation Form (EE-1 and EE-2) and provide it to the parents and/or guardians in order to seek parental consent of the partial IEP and for the extended evaluation. The school district should retain a copy for the student’s file.
If accepted by the parents or guardians, the partial IEP should be immediately implemented at the same time that the extended evaluation is taking place.10 This ensures that a student is not denied services already deemed necessary by the Team. The parents or guardians may also accept, reject, or reject in part, the extended evaluation or request another Team meeting. If the parent accepts the extended evaluation, the school district must proceed to arrange for the extended evaluation and the necessary assessments. If the school district is referring the student to a collaborative or approved special education school for the extended evaluation, it should provide all these forms (ADM-1, EE-1, EE-2, partial IEP) and any recently completed evaluations, assessments, and other relevant information related to the areas of suspected and/or identified disability, to the collaborative or approved special education school. The collaborative or approved special education school is not the student’s placement, but rather is the location where the additional assessment(s) is being conducted.11 The Team may decide to meet during the extended evaluation period, and shall reconvene before the end of the extended evaluation period to provide the Team with opportunity to review the new assessment results and determine the appropriate services and placement for the student. The district should establish a date for this meeting at the beginning of the extended evaluation period so that there is no delay in the completion and implementation of a full IEP that complies with all federal and state special education laws.12
Common Misconceptions about Extended Evaluations
An extended evaluation should not be confused with an Interim Alternative Educational Setting (IAES) under 34 C.F.R. § 300.530(g) (“45-day placements”) which concerns the discipline process under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and is considered a change in placement. Extended evaluations, to the contrary, are not a placement and a student’s participation in an extended evaluation does not constitute a change in placement.
Additionally, an extended evaluation is not a “diagnostic placement” used to determine whether a particular school, setting or program is an appropriate placement for the student.
With this advisory, DESE has issued an updated Extended Evaluation Form that aligns more closely with the specific guidance contained in this advisory.
An extended evaluation is a process for the IEP Team to conduct additional assessments and gather additional information about a student when the IEP Team is unable to develop a full IEP based on the information and assessments already available. Extended evaluation assessment(s) can take place at the public school district, a collaborative, or an approved special education school. The location where the assessments are taking place, however, is not the student’s educational placement. An extended evaluation cannot exceed eight school weeks.
Last Updated: April 1, 2019