Start Here – Basic Information
A Parent’s Guide to Special Education in Massachusetts.
This guide is written by the Federation for Children with Special Needs in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Education. The Guide is meant to serve as a resource for parents, and the organizations that serve them. The Guide contains the most current and accurate information available regarding the special education system in Massachusetts. It is the hope of the Federation that this publication will assist families in obtaining the supports and services that their children with disabilities need to succeed in school.
How to Request Testing or an Evaluation
Who can refer a student for Evaluation
Schools have a duty to identify and assess the needs of children who may be eligible for special education services. However, a student may be referred for a special education evaluation by a
parent, any person in a care-giving position, or any person in a professional position who is working with that child. This can be a doctor, a teacher, a daycare provider, a coach, etc.
Wording to request an Evaluation
Special words need not be used in making a referral for an initial evaluation.
Upon receipt of such a request for an initial evaluation, the school district must send notice to the parent and must seek the parent’s consent to conduct an evaluation. A permission form to evaluate is sent to the parents.
If a student is referred for a special education evaluation, a school district must request parental consent for the evaluation within 5 days of receiving the referral. Generally, school districts do this by sending parents a form requesting permission to test the child.
The parents must provide written consent before the school district can begin testing. The school district also must consult with parents about the content of the testing and the evaluators being used.
The school district must complete its assessments within 30 school working days of receiving parental consent for testing.
Once the school’s tests are complete, an educational Team meeting must be scheduled. This Team meeting must be scheduled within 45 school working
days of receiving parental consent for testing.
The parents can and should request (in writing) reports or summaries of the results of the tests in advance of the Team meeting. After a request
is made, the school district must make copies of the reports of testing available to parents 2 days before the Team meeting.