Updated 9/5/17

Before any action is taken with respect to a student's placement in special education, an assessment must be completed. An assessment is required in the following instances:

  • Prior to initial placement in special education program.
  • Whenever any significant change in the student's special education placement occurs, including addition of new services, and discontinuation of existing services.
  • If the team of qualified assessors, which includes the parent(s), determine that additional data are needed in reviewing whether the student continues to need special education and related services.
  • Every three (3) years or more frequently, if conditions warrant or if the student's parent(s) or teacher requests a new assessment when a new Individualized Education Program (IEP) is to be developed.
Local Education Agency (LEA) Assessment Chair To Do List
1) Designate multidisciplinary members of the team to review the referral, student records, and/or other available documents and assessment reports.
2) Designate the members to develop an assessment plan which will assess in all areas of suspected disability.
3) Contact the parents within fifteen (15) calendar days of referral for assessment to explain:
a. The Parent and Student Rights document
b. The Assessment Plan

Parent Notification of Assessment Plan

Whenever an assessment for the development or revision of the IEP is to be conducted, the parent of the student shall be given, in writing, a proposed assessment plan within fifteen (15) days of the referral for assessment.

In developing an Assessment Plan for parent approval, districts are required to describe the type of assessment sufficiently for a parent to understand the procedure and make an informed decision on whether to allow the assessment to proceed. Districts are not required to list specific test instruments on the plan, but may use descriptors such as: "standardized tests of ability", "structured observation", "rating scales", "criteria referenced tests", "play-based assessments", "teacher made tests", etc.

An assessment plan must be signed each time any standarized assessment is conducted for an individual student. Each time an assessment plan is signed, an assessment report must be completed.


Assessment Plan To Do List
1) Develop with the IEP team and parent input
2) Address all areas of suspected disability
3) Acknowledge current assessment and additional information submitted
4) Provide a copy of Parent's Rights document
5) Give to parent within 15 days of request for assessment
6) Parent has 15 days to sign and return to LEA/school
7) Begin sixty (60) day timeline when plan is received back from parent (date stamp to show receipt of plan)

Testing and Assessment Criteria
Testing, assessment materials and procedures shall be selected and administered so as not to be racially, culturally, or sexually discriminatory. They are designed to prevent the inappropriate over identification or disproportionate representation by race and ethnicity of children as children with disabilities, including children with disabilities with a particular impairment described in § 300.8.

Assessments shall meet all of the following requirements:

  • Hearing and vision screening data must be available prior to conducting an assessment. Data must be less than one year old. Data must be included in the assessment report. A vision and hearing screening must be done within one year of an initial assessment and a three-year re- evaluation. LEAs should have a schedule of completing vision and hearing screenings for all students (i.e. at grades 3 and 5). If not it must be ensured that vision and hearing screenings are updated for special education students. School sites should work with their district special education administrator(s) if a process is not in place.
  • Individuals shall be assessed in their primary language or other mode of communication and in all areas related to the suspected disability.
  • Assessments shall have been validated for the specific purposes for which they are used.
  • Trained personnel shall administer assessments in conformance with instructions provided by the producer of the tests and other assessment materials. If an interpreter is used, caution shall be taken to assure the validity of the test findings and documentation of the procedures used shall be included in the assessment report.
  • Assessments shall be tailored to assess specific areas of educational need, not merely to provide a single general intelligence quotient.
  • A credentialed school psychologist shall conduct psychological assessments. A credentialed school nurse or physician shall conduct health assessments.
  • Alternative means of intellectual assessment must be documented for African-American students, as a result of the September 1986 U.S. District Court decision. Use of standard intelligence testing of African American students has been suspended and alternative assessment procedures are being used. Previous testing results for these students have been removed from the student record.
  • Assessments shall be selected and administered to best ensure that a test administered to a student with impaired sensory, manual or speaking skills produces results that accurately reflect the student's aptitude, achievement level or any other factors the test purports to measure, rather than the student's impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills unless those skills are the factors the test purports to measure.
  • No single score or measure shall be used as the sole criteria for determining an appropriate educational program for a person with disabilities.
  • Testing and evaluation materials and procedures used for the purpose of evaluation and placement are selected and administered so as not to be racially, culturally, or sexually discriminatory.
  • The student shall be assessed in all areas related to the suspected disability including, where appropriate, health and development, vision, hearing, motor abilities, language function, general ability, academic performance, and social emotional status, career/vocational abilities, self help and orientation/mobility. Students need not be tested in areas in which no disability is suspected. When appropriate, a developmental history shall also be obtained. For students with residual vision, a low-vision assessment shall be provided in accordance with guidelines established pursuant to Section 56136 Education Code.

Triennial Review
Federal and state laws require that all special education students be re-evaluated at least once every three (3) years. Prior to the three-year review, IEP teams should determine and discuss the re-evaluation review process. In preparing for a student's re-evaluation, the IEP team members must review existing assessment and evaluation data, consider current classroom based assessments, observations, and student performance. Based on this re-evaluation review, IEP teams then determine what, if any, additional data are needed to complete the three-year summary report.

Questions for Re-evaluation:
Does the student continue to have a disability?
What are the student's present levels of performance and needs?
Does the student continue to need special education and related services?
Does the student need modifications to the program to enable him/her to meet annual goals and participate in the general curriculum?


The IEP team completes the Re-Evaluation Review form and presents it to the student's parent(s). If additional assessment data is needed, the team develops an assessment plan. If no additional assessments are needed because sufficient data currently exist and the parents concur, then the team completes its three-year summary report based on information gathered during the re-evaluation review. This report must contain elements of all ten Assessment Report requirements. See "Assessment Report" section.

Multidisciplinary Assessment
The assessment shall be made by a multidisciplinary group of persons, consistent with federal law and regulations. Such personnel shall include at least one teacher or specialist with knowledge in the area of the suspected disability. A school site IEP team may often conduct a multidisciplinary team assessment during an initial or triennial evaluation. When a multidisciplinary team assessment is completed, one report is written together by the team.

Student under the age of five shall be observed in an appropriate setting.

Additional Assessment by State Schools
When assessment of certain students is beyond the capacity of the LEA or when additional assessment is required, the student may be referred to one of the California Schools for Deaf and/or Blind or one of the Diagnostic Schools.

Assessment of Visually Impaired
Students who are visually impaired should be given the opportunity to be assessed to determine the reading medium that is most appropriate for them.

An assessment of Braille skills is required for functionally blind students who have the ability to read.

Assessment of Hearing Impaired
Knowledgeable personnel conduct assessment in the language mode of communication. The language mode of communication is the method of communication used by hard-of-hearing and deaf student that may include the use of sign language to send or receive messages or the use of spoken language, with (total communication) or without visual cues.

Assessment Report
Unless a multidisciplinary assessment has been conducted and reported upon, all members of the assessment team shall communicate their findings to the IEP team in the form of written reports. Each assessment report must contain all of the following information:

  • Results of tests administered in primary language by qualified personnel
  • Statement regarding validity of the assessment
  • Whether standardized test results are valid
  • Whether the student's needs can be met in the general education classroom or whether the student may need special education and related services
  • The relevant behavior noted during the observation of the student in an appropriate setting.
  • The relationship of behavior to the student's academic and social functioning as well as areas of needs
  • The educationally relevant health, developmental, and medical findings, if any
  • A determination concerning the effects of environmental, cultural or economic disadvantage, when appropriate
  • The need for specialized services, materials, and equipment for students with low incidence disabilities
  • Consideration of independent assessments

Assessment reports may be completed whenever documentation of observations or impressions is required. The assessment report is the opportunity for participants in assessment to document their professional perceptions and recommendations.

Each assessor should include a statement as to whether or not the student meets specific criteria for a particular disabling condition, including notification that these criteria will be shared with the IEP team to determine eligibility for special education. Determination of actual eligibility is made during a meeting by the entire assessment team including the parent, not by any one individual.

For students with specific learning disabilities, additional information must be included in the assessment team's report. See "Specific Learning Disabilities" section in the Procedures Guide.

When an interpreter has been used in the assessment process or when it has not been feasible to conduct the assessment in the student's primary language, the assessment report shall document these conditions and note that the validity of the assessment may be affected.

Recommended Assessment Report Format

Reason for Referral
• State reason for referral and the person who made the referral
• State parent concerns
• Note all suspected areas of disability
Background Information
• Include developmental, medical, and health information
• Make sure the student's vision and hearing screening is up-to-date
• Note relevant family history (i.e. number of siblings)
• Note primary language and language spoken at home: is student an English Language Learner (ELL)?
• Include school history and academic performance such as schools attended, grades, previous accommodations, modifications or concerns
• Utilize information gained from record reviews, parent, teacher, and/or student interviews
• Include the following observational data as appropriate:
› Classroom/playground observations
› Relationship of the behavior to academic functioning
Previous Assessments
• Include pertinent information from district assessments
• Consider information from private and/or independent assessments
Current Assessment/Evaluation
• List the tests administered and the scores received
• Note the student's test behavior
• Discuss implications for the ELL student on assessment
• State that the tests are non-discriminatory, administered by qualified personnel and the procedure used as the assessment
• Discuss extent to which the assessment varied from standard testing conditions if applicable
• State that the tests are non-discriminatory, administered by qualified personnel and the procedure used as the assessment
• Note the determination of effects of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage where appropriate
Discussion of Test Results
• Present your interpretation of the student's scores and a brief description of the subtests including:
› Statement of validity and purpose
› Whether or not an interpreter was used, if applicable
› Student's educational need
› Alternate assessments used, if applicable
• Summarize the student's profile, strengths, and challenges
• Discuss whether the student's needs can be met in the general education classroom
• Make recommendations for possible accommodations
• Note consideration of eligibility criteria and determination to be made at IEP meeting

Independent Assessment
Parents may provide results of an independent assessment, obtained at private expense, for IEP team consideration. When these reports are received, an IEP meeting must be scheduled within thirty (30) days, and include relevant members of the IEP Team.

Although the report must be considered, the district may require that it meet the same standards established for assessment conducted by the district.

On the "Comments and Clarification" form, the district should document what portion of the independent assessment the IEP team used in determining eligibility, placement or services implemented. Areas of agreement and/or disagreement with the district's assessment should be included. The IEP team should clearly indicate the degree to which its decisions were based on outside assessment data. The district may have an obligation to pay for private assessments to the extent that the school's assessment is determined to be inappropriate or incomplete.

Independent Educational Evaluations (IEE)
If a parent disagrees with an assessment conducted by the LEA, a parent has the right to request an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) at public expense. The District's assessment in question must be two years old or less. If the assessment is older than two years or does not exist, the district should conduct a new assessment. The following information defines the circumstances and steps under which parents of a student with a disability are entitled to an independent educational evaluation at public expense for their child. Please reference the Contra Costa Special Education Local Plan Area IEE procedures below. Local Education Agency (LEA) board policy should be in place to reflect a parent's right to an IEE.

"Independent educational evaluation" means an evaluation conducted by a qualified examiner who is not employed by the LEA. (34 C.F.R. § 300.502(a)(3)(i)).

"Public expense" means that the LEA either pays for the full cost of the evaluation or evaluation components or ensures that the evaluation or evaluation components are otherwise provided at no cost to the parent. (34 C.F.R. § 300.502(a)(3)(ii)).

Parameters for Seeking Independent Educational Evaluation

If a parent disagrees with an evaluation by the LEA and seeks an independent educational evaluation by written notification of the LEA, the LEA will either initiate a due process hearing to show that its evaluation is appropriate or provide the parent an opportunity to obtain an independent educational evaluation in accord with policy by arranging for the independent education evaluation. The LEA requires that the parent first communicate in writing to the LEA or inform the LEA at an IEP meeting both that the parent:
Disagrees with the LEA's evaluation; and
Requests an Independent Education Evaluation at public expense.

Only one IEE will be provided for any LEA assessment with which the parent disagrees. The parent may not disagree with the results of an IEE and request another one.

The LEA will ask for the parent's reason why he or she objects to the LEA's evaluation, but the parent need not respond. The LEA will not delay the implementation of this policy because of the parent's lack of response. (34 C.F.R. § 300.502(b)(4)).

Upon parent request for an independent educational evaluation, the LEA will provide general information to the parents about their policy. (34 C.F.R. § 300.502(a)(2)).

Upon parent request for an independent educational evaluation, the LEA will offer the parent a choice of an alternative LEA evaluator and options for providing an independent educational evaluation at public expense as follows:

A staff member from another school;
A staff member from another LEA in the SELPA;
A staff member from another SELPA;
A private sector provider.

The parents will communicate to the LEA, in writing, their preferred option. The LEA will contract with an independent examiner or otherwise ensure that an IEE is provided at public expense. (300.502(b)(2)(ii)). Parents will be required to sign a release and exchange of information between the IEE evaluator(s) and the district.

If the LEA initiates a hearing and the final decision is that the LEA's evaluation is appropriate, the parent still has the right to an IEE, but not at public expense.
(34 C.F.R. § 300.502(b)(3)).

Time Line Regarding Independent Educational Evaluation
In the interest of consistency between public and private evaluations, the LEA encourages parent to choose an option (above) for an IEE offered by the LEA within 15 days of receiving the options.

The LEA will contract with a qualified independent examiner who can provide a written report for an IEP meeting upon completion of the Independent Educational Evaluation. If the selected candidate cannot meet the time line, the LEA will inform the parent and ask for agreement to an extension or selection of another option.

Agency Criteria
The criteria under which an independent evaluation is obtained at public expense, including the location limitations for the evaluation, minimum qualifications of the examiner, cost limits, and use of approved instruments must be the same as the criteria that the LEA uses when it initiates an evaluation.
(34 C.F.R. § 300.502(e)(1)).

As part of an independent evaluation, the examiner shall follow guidelines for LEA evaluations, which include but are not limited to observing the student in an appropriate setting (Ed. Code § 56327). The LEA shall define the nature and scope of an independent examiner's in-class observations consistent with the right to an equivalent opportunity to observe, but also consistent with its obligations to prevent unnecessary disruption in the class and to protect the privacy interests of other students. This may include, but is not limited to, identifying the time constraints of such observation, LEA personnel who will participate in the observation and restrictions on student/teacher interactions. The independent examiner shall attend the IEP team meeting by phone or in person at which time the evaluation will be discussed. Assessments or evaluations shall be conducted by persons competent to perform the assessment, as determined by the school LEA, county office, or special education local plan area (Ed. Code § 56322).

Evaluators will be located within the Contra Costa SELPA geographic area. Evaluators outside of this area will be approved only on an exceptional basis, providing parents can demonstrate the necessity of using personnel outside the specified area. Any expenses beyond the evaluation (e.g., food, lodging, transportation, etc.) are not covered by the LEA in the cost of the IEE.

Evaluators with credentials other than those listed below will not be approved unless the parent can demonstrate the appropriateness of using an evaluator meeting other qualifications. (Ed. Code, § 56320, subd. (b)(3)).

Cost Containment Criteria for Evaluations
The cost of an IEE shall be comparable to those costs that the LEA incurs when it uses its own employees or contractors to perform a similar assessment. Costs include: observations, administration and scoring of tests, report writing, and attendance in person or by phone at an IEP team meeting. Reimbursement will be in an amount no greater than the actual cost to the parent and will be subject to proof of payment.

The cost a psycho-educational IEE shall not exceed $5,000.00. The cost of a speech and language, occupational therapy, and/or adaptive physical education shall not exceed $1,500.00. The cost of other types of IEEs will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Guidelines for all IEE costs are calculated by considering time required for the assessment and the appropriate LEA employee hourly rate. Costs above these amounts will not be approved unless the parent can demonstrate that such costs reflect unique circumstances justifying the selection of an evaluator whose fees fall outside these criteria. The LEA will not necessarily fund the attendance of the assessor at the IEP team meeting convened to consider the IEE.

When insurance will cover all or partial costs of the IEE, the LEA will request that the parents voluntarily have their insurance pay the IEE costs covered by their insurance. However, parents will not be asked to have insurance cover the IEE costs if such action would result in a financial cost to the parents including, but not limited to the following:

A decrease in available lifetime coverage or any other benefit under an insurance policy;
An increase in premiums or the discontinuance of the policy; or
An out-of-pocket expense, such as payment of a deductible amount incurred in filing a claim, unless the parent is willing to have the LEA reimburse for the amount of the deductible.

As part of the contracted evaluation, independent evaluators must:
Provide protocols of all the assessments; and
Provide a written report prior to the IEP team meeting.

Independent evaluators must agree to release their assessment information and results to the LEA prior to receipt of payment for services. The results of the IEE will be considered in the determination of eligibility, program decisions, and placement of the student with disabilities as required by the individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

EC 56329
EC 56506 (c) EC 56043(k)
CCR 3022.
USC, 1415(b)(1),1414, 1412
CFR 300.173 300.303, 300.304
300.502, 300.503

Academic Achievement
Credentialed Special Education Teacher
School Psychologist
Licensed Educational Psychologist
Adaptive Behavior
Credentialed Special Education Teacher
School Psychologist
Licensed Educational Psychologist
Assistive Technology
Credentialed or Licensed Speech/Language Pathologist
Credentialed Assistive Technology Specialist
Credentialed Special Education Teacher
Auditory Acuity
Licensed Educational Audiologist
Licensed or Credentialed Speech/Language Pathologist
Auditory Perception (Central Auditory Processing)
Licensed or Credentialed Speech/Language Pathologist
Credentialed Special Education Teacher
School Psychologist
Licensed Educational Psychologist
Licensed Educational Psychologist
School Psychologist
Health (including Neurological)
Licensed Physician
Licensed Physical Therapist
Registered Occupational Therapist
Credentialed Teacher of the Physically Impaired
Adaptive Physical Education Teacher
Occupational Therapy
Licensed Occupational Therapist
Speech and Language
Licensed or Credentialed Speech/Language Pathologist
School Psychologist
Licensed Educational Psychologist
Visual Acuity/Developmental Vision
Licensed Ophthalmologist
Functional Vision
Credentialed Teacher of the Visually Impaired
Vision Perception
Credentialed Special Education Teacher
School Psychologist
Credentialed Special Education Teacher


Click here to download and print "Procedures Guide-Assessment" (updated 9/2017)