If a student has been using typical school interventions (meeting with teachers and/or an advisor regularly, using peer or private tutors, taking advantage of drop-in help for math, etc.) and is still struggling, the family may be contacted about the possibility of an educational evaluation, which is required for consideration for accommodations. If an evaluation is conducted, Academic Support meets with the parents/guardians to talk about the process going forward and to develop a learning plan after the evaluation report has been received.
Educational evaluations provide important information for understanding a student’s approach to learning and support that may be helpful for the student in the classroom. They include information reflecting the findings of the evaluation as well as actions or accommodations based on the evaluator’s best guess as to how those findings might play out. They include a list of possible interventions (sometimes labeled a “plan” or “recommendations”) that enables Burroughs to develop a learning plan that best incorporates the suggestions as they pertain to the educational environment at JBS.
Academic Support has a referral list of evaluators who can provide quality evaluations. While families are not required to use these evaluators, if an evaluation does not meet Burroughs requirements, additional assessment may be required. NOTE: If testing is recommended by the school, but the cost to do so is of concern, parents/guardians or students should speak with the grade-level principal.
Requirements for evaluations differ based on the specific area of disability:
- For medical disabilities (e.g., seizure disorders, sensory impairments, or physical limitations), a letter from a physician stating the diagnosis, limitation(s) imposed by the disability, and recommendation(s) for the educational setting is sufficient. The letter must be written within the last 12 months; periodic updates on the disability may be required.
- For psychiatric disabilities (e.g., anxiety, depression, etc.) diagnosed by an appropriate professional (psychiatrist, licensed professional counselor, psychologist, or licensed clinical social worker), a letter stating the diagnosis, limitation/s imposed by the disability, and recommendation(s) for the educational setting is sufficient. The letter must be written within the last 12 months, and an annual letter from the physician may be required.
- For learning disabilities, a complete evaluation, including educational testing, is required. This testing takes several hours with a credentialed evaluator. Information from the school is required for the evaluation to be considered for Academic Support services. An updated evaluation may be required for students to receive accommodations on standardized testing in high school or to access disability services in college. Evaluations for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder fall in a grey area. While Burroughs will accept a letter as previously described for medical or psychiatric diagnoses, the testing agencies (The College Board and ACT) and colleges may ask for a complete educational testing evaluation.
- For temporary disabilities (e.g., someone who has a concussion, a broken bone on their dominant hand, or an acute illness that interferes with fully participating in the curriculum), a letter from a physician with a diagnosis and recommendations for accommodations is required. When the student has recovered, the accommodations end. A learning plan is not developed for students with temporary disabilities.
- Burroughs does not typically require re-evaluations for students with learning disabilities on a regular basis. However, when it is time for standardized testing, requests for accommodations may require updated testing. Updated testing may also be required for students to receive accommodations in college. Psychiatric and other medical disabilities may require an annual evaluation.
Because the testing situation is an artificial situation over a few hours of a student’s life and may not reflect their day-to-day functioning at school, Burroughs uses the information in combination with the student’s daily/typical functioning to develop an individualized plan to address the student’s needs. Not all of the accommodations listed on the educational evaluation may be included in the learning plan; similarly, there may be accommodations added that are not listed on the evaluation.