Federal Law - IDEA PART B

MA Regulations 603CMR 28.00 - all sections

Federal Law - Definitions Under IDEA

Massachusetts  Advisories




The information on the following pages emphasizes key points, re-iterates answers to frequently asked questions and explains some of the processes used in Arlington from a parent’s point of view.  You must read the full text of the laws themselves to be fully informed.


The Evaluation

Read the Massachusetts regulations pertaining to evaluations.

The KEY POINTs of Special Education Evaluations:


  1. They must be conducted by appropriately credentialed and trained specialists
  2. They must evaluate in all areas related to a suspected disability.


In response to your request to evaluate you should receive a “Consent to Evaluate” form (aka the N1 form) in 5(five) school days from the Special Education Department.

The school must evaluate in all areas of suspected disability and you have the right to give input and request the school evaluate in any areas you believe your child is having trouble. The N1 form is very brief, you may write in assessments you do not see listed.  

Special Education covers both academics and social/emotional needs.  In addition to academic considerations think about what related services may be needed.  Related services help children with disabilities benefit from their special education by providing extra help and support in needed areas, such as speaking or moving. Related services can include, but are not limited to, any of the following:


Gain a basic understanding of some of these services by reviewing the following topics under our resources tabs; Executive Functioning 101, Behavior 101, Occupational Therapy 101, Social Skills 101, Speech Therapy 101.

On receipt of the request to evaluate consent form(N1), before signing the form, request a pre-evaluation meeting to address your concerns and discuss your expectations, reasons for testing, what will be covered, who will be performing the test and their credentials, it is your right under regulation 28.04(1)(c).  

It’s a good practice to memorialize your understanding of what was discussed in the meeting and what you understand will be covered by the evaluator(s) in writing, by letter or email so there are no misunderstandings about expectations.

You may request a specific person do the evaluation, however, since the school is paying, they have the right to choose who will perform it so long as they are appropriately credentialed and trained.  If you disagree with the results of its findings or you believe the evaluation was not comprehensive you may request an Independent Educational Evaluation(IEE).

A neuropsychological evaluation is one of the he most effective tools in assessing brain functioning and diagnosing the source of difficulties a student may be having in school. It is extremely expensive and not done by school districts in the intensity and detail that is done privately.  Read a position paper about the testing, the systems reviewed, as well as considerations for proceeding privately or through the school.  

You may opt to do any testing privately so that you may choose the evaluator then you may decide whether to submit it to the school for consideration.  Your own health insurance may pay for some types of  testing, check with your individual plan.     

**NOTE: Standardized testing cannot be repeated within a twelve month period to avoid over-testing in any given area, it nullifies the results of both tests if done. Notify the school in writing if you are having standardized testing completed to avoid any conflict.

As soon as you submit the signed consent to evaluate the school district has 30 days to complete their evaluation.  The team must meet with you to discuss their evaluation within 45 school days of the request to evaluate. You are entitled to a copy of the evaluation report 48 hours before the meeting however you must request the report.  If you submit an independent evaluation the team must convene in 10 days of your submission.      

Over time, depending on your child’s development, you may find new issues become apparent. You have the right, at any time, to request evaluations to address new concerns.  Make all requests in writing even if it was agreed to verbally or in an IEP meeting.  Administrators have a lot of cases to deal with, if you submit your request in writing to the special education department it is less likely to be lost in the shuffle.  If you request a subsequent evaluation the same 30/45 day timeline applies.

The DESE issued a technical advisory allowing parents or parent-designated independent evaluators and educational consultants, upon parent request, timely and sufficient access to a child's current and proposed special education program so that the parent and named designees can observe the child in the current program and any proposed program. The law, is referred to as "the observation law," and limits the restrictions or conditions schools may impose on these observations.  In other words, if you hire an evaluator, that evaluator must be allowed to observe your child in the school setting.

Concord Spedpac has done an outstanding job putting together a listing of evaluations and assessments, see their listing here.  A discussion of specific tests can be found here. Thank you Concord Spedpac!