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All About Evaluations & ETRs

Basic Process of Evaluations

"Evaluation Roadmap" Provides Timeline and Info to the Evaluation Process

The Ohio Department of Education's "Evaluation Roadmap: For Families with Children Ages 3-21" provides an excellent overview of the process and the timeline for evaluating for special education services. This timeline gives guidance from every stage from what to do when you have concerns about your child's learning, to how to request an evaluation, to the evaluation process and what comes next.

Medical Diagnosis vs. Educational Category for Special Education Services

Medical diagnosis vs. Educational Label
If you have a student with a disability or a medical condition, they are likely to have a medical diagnosis from a trained medical professional. A lung doctor may have diagnosed your child with cystic fibrosis; a neurologist or developmental pediatrician may have diagnosed your child with an autism spectrum disorder or an intellectual disability.
It’s natural to think that if you have a diagnosis from a physician or other health professional, that your child would automatically be eligible for special education services through the local school system. But that’s not the case; there is no automatic eligibility based on a medical diagnosis.
A disability educational label means that your child has been identified as having one of the disabilities identified as eligibility categories in the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). 
The IDEA eligibility categories are fairly broad. Some medical diagnoses, like autism or intellectual disability will also be an IDEA eligibility category. Other diagnoses, like cystic fibrosis or ADHD might fall into a broader category like Other Health Impairment.
So, What Does that Really Mean?
So, you may be thinking, what’s the difference? The disability categories listed on the "Basic Resources for Special Education" page, have to be diagnosed and a physician or medical professional is doing the diagnosing. That’s true. But having a medical condition does not necessarily mean that your child requires special education and related services.
In order to be eligible under IDEA, the student must be identified as having one or more of the IDEA specified disabilities AND be in need of special services. (however, you do not necessarily need a formal diagnosis; a suspected diagnosis can also warrant a child to be evaluated by the school)
To determine the latter, a school team is established which includes various school professionals (administrator, teacher(s), psychologist, social worker, related service professionals like occupational, speech language, and physical therapists) and the student’s parents.
That team conducts assessments and interviews to determine the student’s strengths, needs, and challenges and reviews information that the parents provide, including reports from physicians and other specialists. So, let’s say your child has a medical diagnosis of autism. That diagnosis may or may not meet the specific criteria included in IDEA or in Ohio’s state special education regulations. The impact of the student’s medical diagnosis may be so minimal as to not meet the definition of a student with a disability who requires special education and related services. Therefore, the medical diagnosis will not result in eligibility for special education unless additional information is provided that changes or alters the conclusions made by the eligibility team.
The disability must impact the student’s learning and his or her ability to participate in the general education curriculum and the student must require special education and related services to benefit from his or her education.
Treatment vs. Education?
The difference may seem obvious when you think about conditions like cancer, psychiatric conditions, substance abuse. But it is less obvious with other diagnoses. Treatment addresses medical issues. Your child may be on medication for an anxiety order; that is medical treatment. The school, however, would focus on your child’s academic and functional needs in light of the anxiety disorder. Services are drive by an Individualized Education Program (IEP) team, not by a medical team. Collaboration and cooperation, however, is a key to student success.

Information Excerpted from PEATC and the U.S. Department of Education