Frequently Asked Questions

I have just received a phone call from my child's advisor/teacher that my child has been referred to a child study team. What does this mean? What kinds of issues might prompt a teacher to recommend a student to the child study team?

The teachers may not have identified any particular area of concern, but they would like to have a team of learning/behavioral specialists (this is called a child study team) review your child's records and make recommendations to them about how best to work with your student or how a special education evaluation might be helpful.

Can I attend this "child study" meeting?

Yes, you will be invited to attend the meeting so that you can hear the school's concerns and also share your own knowledge and/or concerns. You are not required to attend this meeting but are certainly welcome.

If the team decides that a special education evaluation is necessary do I have to give permission for this evaluation to take place?

Absolutely. Teachers can refer a student to the child study team without authorization from the parent but no special education evaluation can take place without your written consent.

How will I know if they are going to do an evaluation?

The decision about whether or not to proceed with a special education evaluation will be made at the child study team meeting (which you may have attended). In addition, you will be invited to participate in a meeting to determine the areas of concern and what tests should be completed. The school district will request your permission to evaluate your child. A permission form will not only indicate what areas are to be tested, but also who will be doing the evaluation and specifically what types of tests they are going to administer.

If I decide to go ahead with the evaluation, how long will it take?

The school district has 30 school days after receiving parental permission within which to complete the testing.

Why does a special education evaluation take so long?

This time length is determined by State and Federal guidelines in order to provide schools with enough time to conduct an appropriate evaluation of your child's needs. There are only a small number of staff qualified to do the testing in a special education evaluation. In addition to testing students, most of these staff members carry a full teaching load. There are many students to be evaluated and each one deserves very careful consideration.

What happens when the testing is completed?

You will be contacted by a case manager who has been assigned to your child during the evaluation process. This person will coordinate a date and time for you to come in to discuss the results of your child's evaluation.

Who will be at the post-testing meeting?

At this meeting will be members of the evaluation team along with at least one classroom teacher, at least one parent, and sometimes the student. Student attendance is determined on an individual basis and is a judgment call of the parent, case manager assigned during the evaluation process, and the child's academic adviser. Generally, students in junior high or high school are encouraged to attend these meetings.

What does it mean that my child is "eligible for special education services?"

The Minnesota Department of Education has issued a set of guidelines for schools to follow when assessing children who may have special education needs. These guidelines or criteria show very specifically what kind of profile children need to have in order to qualify for special education services in any area.

How does the special education process work?

What are the different areas that a student can qualify in?

The current areas are:

  • Autism
  • Deaf-Blindness
  • Developmental Adapted Physical Education: Special Education
  • Developmental Cognitive Disability
  • Early Childhood: Special Education
  • Emotional or Behavioral Disorders
  • Hearing Impairment
  • Other Health Disability
  • Physically Impaired
  • Severely Multiply Impaired
  • Specific Learning Disability
  • Speech and Language Impairment
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Visually Impaired

My child went through a special education assessment but did not qualify for special education help. He's still struggling; is there anything else?

Yes. There are a variety of services available in the "mainstream" which may include (depending on the particular school) assurance of mastery (AOM), a "504 plan", peer tutoring, etc.

What does assurance of mastery mean in terms of services for my child?

Assurance of Mastery is a program that provides extra skill instruction in specific areas of English and/or math. Students are referred to AOM for assessment in order to determine if they may need this type of support.

What is a 504 plan?

A 504 plan is a document that outlines the terms of the instructional services of the student with a qualifying disability that substantially limits a major life activity. The plan may include accommodations, special education and related aids and services.

If my student qualifies for services in one of the above special education areas, what type of services might I expect?

This depends very much on your child's needs as shown in the evaluation. After you have been given the evaluation results your child will be assigned a case manager for the remainder of the school year. This case manager will work with you to develop an Individual Educational Plan or (IEP) which will outline the exact nature of the services your child will receive.

What do all the initials and letters stand for concerning Special Education?

Download a list of commonly used Special Education acronyms.