A 3-5 year old may be evaluated for special education services through their public school system if there are concerns about their development or learning. For example, if a parent or teacher notices that a child is having difficulty with developmental milestones, such as speaking, walking, or interacting with others, they may request an evaluation to determine whether the child may have a disability that is impacting their development.
Requesting an Evaluation Through Your Public School System
Additionally, a 3-5 year old may be evaluated if they are having difficulty learning or functioning in the classroom. This could include difficulties with language, cognition, or social-emotional functioning.
It’s important to note that not all 3-5 year olds who are evaluated will be found to be eligible for special education services. The school will consider a range of factors when determining eligibility, including the child’s overall functioning and any identified areas of need. If the child is found to be eligible, an individualised education program (IEP) will be developed to outline the specific services and supports that will be provided to meet the child’s needs.
Below is information on the process for receiving an evaluation for a 3-5 year old through your public school system:
1. Requesting an evaluation: If you think your child (age 3-5) might have a disability or might benefit from special education services, you or their teacher can ask for an evaluation. You can do this by contacting the child’s school or the special education department at the school district. (Letter format and process for this is below)
2. Determining eligibility: Once you ask for an evaluation, the school will decide if your child is eligible for special education services. They will do this by looking at your child’s records and possibly doing more assessments or evaluations.
3. Conducting the evaluation: If the school decides your child is eligible, they will do a full evaluation to find out what your child is good at, what they need help with, and what services and support they should get. This may include testing their cognitive development, language skills, and social-emotional functioning.
4. Developing an individualized education program (IEP): If the school decides your child is eligible for special education services, they will make an IEP (individualized education program). This plan has information about your child’s specific needs, the goals for their education, and the services and support they will get. The IEP will be made with the help of you, your child’s teacher, and other professionals.
5. Implementing the IEP: Once the IEP is made, it will be used in your child’s educational setting. This might include special accommodations or changes in the classroom, and special instruction or support services. The school will keep track of your child’s progress and update the IEP as needed.
6. Note: It’s important to know that the process for getting an evaluation and special education services for a 3-5 year old may be slightly different at different schools or districts.
Writing the Letter to Request Evaluation:
To write a letter requesting an evaluation for your child through their public school (for children 3 and up):
Address the letter to the appropriate person or department at the school
Explain that you are the parent or guardian of the child, and that you are requesting an evaluation to determine if the child has any special needs that require support from the school
Include any relevant information about the child’s development, such as any concerns you have about their progress or any red flags that have come up
Include your contact information in the letter, so that the school can get in touch with you to schedule an evaluation
Mention any specific accommodations or services that you think the child might need, such as speech therapy or a specialized learning plan
Sample letter you may use and edit for your request:
Dear [Name of School Administrator],
I am writing to request an evaluation for my child, [CHILD’S NAME], who is [CHILD’S AGE] years old. [CHILD’S NAME] has not been meeting her developmental milestones and I am concerned about her progress. I believe that an evaluation is necessary to determine the appropriate support and services that [CHILD’S NAME] needs to succeed in school and in life.
Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), your school district is required to provide a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) to students with disabilities, including evaluations to determine if a student is eligible for special education services. I am requesting that you conduct an evaluation for [CHILD’S NAME] as soon as possible to determine her eligibility for special education services and to develop an appropriate individualized education program (IEP) for her.
I understand that the IDEA requires school districts to respond to a request for an evaluation within a reasonable timeframe. If I do not receive a response to this request within [X] days, I will be forced to consider legal action to protect my daughter’s rights under the law.
Please contact me at [Your Phone Number] to schedule an evaluation for [Child’s Name]. I am available to meet with you at your convenience to discuss [Child’s Name]‘s needs and to determine the best course of action.
I appreciate your prompt attention to this matter and look forward to your response.