EVALUATION DURING COVID-19 & NEWS FOR PHILADELPHIA STUDENTS
Philadelphia public schools remain closed for face to face (F2F) instruction with all students receiving 100% of instruction virtually. Some students in Philadelphia and across the state have struggled under this instructional method. Many Districts are evaluating students “virtually” due to COVID-19 and this has, for some students, also presented challenges.
As we move through winter, many students will begin the transition from early intervention services to school age programs in September 2021 and evaluations by a District is a critical part of this process. In addition, many students already enrolled may need initial evaluations to determine whether they have an educational disability and need specialized instruction, and there are students with IEPS who need reevaluation.
Starting January 25th, 2021 the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) will be opening (6) regionally located sites across the city so students can be evaluated in a F2F setting.
The following is information we hope is helpful to parents and caregivers of students with disabilities or those who may have disabilities.
- West Philadelphia High School
4901 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19139
- Arts Academy At Benjamin Rush
11081 Knights Rd, Philadelphia, PA 19154
- Martin Luther King High School
6100 Stenton Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19138
- Thomas A. Edison High School
151 West Luzerne Street, Philadelphia, PA 19140
- Strawberry Mansion High School
3133 Ridge Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19132
- Creative and Performing Arts High School
901 S Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19147
According to published reports, parents will be contacted starting January 19th, 2021 to arrange testing. Center for Disease Control (CDC) COVID-19 safeguards such as: masking, social distancing, and enhanced cleaning will be in place at each site. In addition, according to reporting, all staff and the students will be provided with a COVID-19 rapid antigen test prior to the special education testing with student results being made available.
For SDP students, this may be a good option for testing. All parents need to remember that COVID-19 HAS NOT impacted some basic rules EVERY district and Charter when evaluating/reevaluating students.
First, this process (evaluation and reevaluation) MUST be completed within (60) days from the date you have given WRITTEN consent for the assessment to be completed but the summer months do not count. This means within 60 days of your consent, you should be given a written report that includes all aspects of the evaluation/reevaluation in all areas of need your child demonstrates. The TIME requirement also means if you gave consent last school year (even as late as June 2020) but your child has not been evaluated or reevaluated, there is a TIME problem with the process which could have a negative impact on your child.
For students who already have an IEP, reevaluation must happen every 3 years unless a student is “intellectually disabled” (ID). Students with ID are to be reevaluated every 2 years.
If your child was entitled to a reevaluation last year and it did not happen, there may be a TIME problem with the process which could have a negative impact on your child.
Evaluations and Reevaluations must be individualized and comprehensive. For example, for a student who hears a language other than English in the home, evaluation by a bi-lingual psychologist may be needed. A student who needs assistive technology to communicate should have that device during the process. For older students, assessment should include “transition” assessments so that the report includes recommendations for post high life — whether that is living independently, working, or continuing with education.
In some instances, we are aware of parents/caregivers making written requests for evaluation with no response from a district or Charter. This should never occur. In any instance where a parent/caregiver has made a written request for evaluation, a District/Charter MUST provide a written response to that request. This response can come in many forms which can be confusing and we urge you to reach out to us if you have a concern about a lack of, or confusing response to, a written request for evaluation.
If you have any questions about your child’s education program, an evaluation/reevaluation request, the timing of the process, or the reports you receive, we are here to help and can provide guidance.
Be safe, be well and know you are not alone when advocating for your child!