POLICY & ADVOCACY
November 30th, 2020
New Resource: Navigating Special Education Evaluations for SLD Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented districts and educators with many challenges related to student health, safety, and instruction. One particular challenge facing school districts is how to appropriately evaluate whether students are eligible for special education. This is made more difficult by the ongoing loss of in-person instruction and persistent issues relating to access to broadband and devices, limited access to support, and instability at home or within the community. There are also questions related to the reliability and validity of assessments in a virtual setting.
In most districts, when schools closed to in-person learning, special education evaluations were put on hold. Districts needed time to reconsider how to administer assessments, complete observations, and collect adequate data under new conditions and new environments. With the beginning of the new school year, districts are facing a backlog of evaluations. Districts are also facing a potential increase in the number of new referrals for academic and/or mental and behavioral health interventions and, possibly, special education, as more students struggle to meet grade-level standards in current conditions. At the same time, federal law remains unchanged and districts must continue to evaluate students within the required time frames. (For more information on how SLD evaluations are typically conducted, visit ncld.org/SLDeligibility).
To help schools and districts navigate this complex challenge, the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) published “The Pandemic’s Impact on Special Education Evaluation and SLD Identification,” a resource that describes practical steps that school psychologists and school districts can consider. Now, building on that resource, NASP and NCLD have joined together to publish Navigating Special Education Evaluations for SLD Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic, a report that provides recommendations to adapt state policies on evaluations for SLD in light of the pandemic. Our goal is to ensure that students get timely and thorough evaluations to develop educational programs that meet their needs.
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