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U.S. Department of Education: Promoting Educational Excellence for all Americans

Screening for instructional purposes is not evaluation (Sec. 300.302)

Comment: One commenter requested clarification on the difference between screening and evaluation and recommended that the regulations include specific examples of what constitutes screening, including testing instruments that are appropriate to be used for screening to determine appropriate instructional strategies. Many commenters recommended permitting States to determine the screening process for identifying appropriate instructional strategies.

One commenter stated that "screening" is too loosely defined and may be confused with State regulations that require screening for a child's entrance into school. The commenter recommended that the regulations address issues such as the need for parental consent prior to screening and a timeframe for screening subsequent to a request.

Discussion: An "evaluation," as used in the Act, refers to an individual assessment to determine eligibility for special education and related services, consistent with the evaluation procedures in Sec. Sec. 300.301 through 300.311. "Screening," as used in Sec. 300.302 and section 614(a)(1)(E) of the Act, refers to a process that a teacher or specialist uses to determine appropriate instructional strategies. Screening is typically a relatively simple and quick process that can be used with groups of children. Because such screening is not considered an evaluation under Sec. Sec. 300.301 through 300.311 to determine eligibility for special education services, parental consent is not required.

Section 300.302 does not address screening for a child's entrance into school under a State's rules. Screening required under a State's rules for a child's entrance into school is the responsibility of the State and is not within the purview of the Act. We believe that the provisions in Sec. Sec. 300.301 through 300.311, regarding evaluations, and Sec. 300.302, regarding screening for instructional purposes, are clear, and therefore, we do not believe it is necessary to add language to the regulations.

We decline to provide specific examples of testing instruments to determine appropriate instructional strategies because this will vary based on the age of the child and the subject matter, and is best left to State and local officials to determine. Likewise, the process for screening, including the timeframe to complete the screening process, is a decision that is best left to State and local officials to determine, based on the instructional needs of the children.

Changes: None.

Comment: One commenter asked whether the provisions in Sec. 300.302, regarding screening, apply to a child with a disability, as well as a child who has not been identified as a child with a disability. One commenter noted that Sec. 300.302 refers to screening of a child by a teacher or a specialist and asked who would be considered a specialist. Another commenter requested clarification regarding the term "instructional strategies for curriculum implementation," as used in Sec. 300.302.

Discussion: Section 300.302, consistent with section 614(a)(1)(E) of the Act, states that the screening of a child by a teacher or specialist to determine appropriate instructional strategies is not considered an evaluation for purposes of determining eligibility for special education and related services. This applies to a child with a disability, as well as a child who has not been identified as a child with a disability. Such screening, therefore, could occur without obtaining informed parental consent for screening.

We believe the determination of who is considered a "specialist" should be left to the discretion of the public agency and should not be specified in the regulations. The term, "instructional strategies for curriculum implementation" is generally used to refer to strategies a teacher may use to more effectively teach children.

Changes: None.

Comment: One commenter recommended clarification regarding whether States can develop and implement policies that permit screening of children to determine if evaluations are necessary.

Discussion: There is nothing in the Act that requires a State to, or prohibits a State from, developing and implementing policies that permit screening children to determine if evaluations are necessary. However, screening may not be used to delay an evaluation for special education and related services. If a child is referred for an evaluation to determine eligibility for special education and related services, the public agency must implement the requirements in Sec. Sec. 300.301 through 300.311 and adhere to the 60-day or the State-established timeframe to complete the evaluation.

Changes: None.