Initial Assessment - Student with an Obvious Disability

What's Required

Each public agency must conduct a full and individual initial evaluation before the initial provision of special education and related services to a child with a disability 34 CFR 300.301(a).  The purpose of the evaluation is to determine if the child is a child with a disability 34 CFR 300.8(a)(1) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)and to determine the educational needs of the child 34 CFR 300.301(c)(2)


What is an Obvious Disability?


  • Conditions Most Likely to be Considered as an Obvious Disability

    • Genetic condition associated with an Intellectual Disability

    • Traumatic Brain Injury

    • Severe Visual Impairment

    • Severe Hearing Impairment

    • Lower functioning Autism


  • It is likely an obvious disability situation if the child:

    • Is very young and is identified via Child Find

    • Is the victim of a recent debilitating situation/accident

    • Has a deteriorating medical and/or sensory condition that has reached a serious level of impact


  • Documentation for Obvious Disability

    • Gain access to medical or clinical documentation reflecting an obvious disability diagnosis.

    • The diagnosis must be made by a licensed professional in the appropriate medical, mental health, or speech language field.

    • Any supplementary information is important as well (i.e., test/screening results)

    • The mere presence of a psychiatric diagnosis is not sufficient in order to qualify for obvious disability. Information as to educational impact is often lacking in such DSM-V diagnosis.

    • The mere presence of a speech impairment diagnosis is not sufficient in order to qualify for obvious disability. Information as to educational impact is often lacking in medical diagnosis.


  • Demonstrate an Educational Need

    • Children may be diagnosed with a disability by a medical provider. However, one must understand that being simply diagnosed with a disability is not a guarantee of special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

    • Having a disability is the first question when determining if a student qualifies.  The multidisciplinary assessment team must also answer two additional questions:

      • Does the disability impact the child’s educational progress?

      • Does the child need specially designed instruction?

    • An educational need for special education services is determined from the data gathered by the multidisciplinary assessment team, including multiple data points in the academic areas of concern, state/district test results, classroom performance data, grades, and observations.



What We Do

Initial Assessment  
Student with an Obvious Disability Procedures

1. When a campus suspects that a student has an obvious disability the Student Support Specialist (SSS) will ensure that the student is immediately provided Tier III support and that person will contact the assigned Special Education Campus Coordinator, complete the Initial Assessment Request Form, and begin collecting initial folder information (Table 1).

Academic and behavioral interventions should be documented in the appropriate documentation system (ex. eSTAR, Eduphoria). 

Note: Throughout the tiered levels of general education support, general education teachers and instructional specialists should document student specific academic and behavioral interventions in the 
the appropriate documentation system (ex. eSTAR/eRTI,, Eduphoria)

2. After the assessments requests is submitted, a folder review meetings will be scheduled, and email will be sent with the next available date, time, and location.  
  • The Campus should have at least one person who has knowledge of the the student attend the Folder Review and bring a copy of the campus referral folder with a completed Evaluation Preparation Checklist.
  • The Folder Review Committee will be composed of assessment staff, Assessment Coordinator(s), and Campus staff in order to make the most appropriate educational decision for the student. 
3.  A current near & far vision and hearing screening, that demonstrates passing results, should be included in the documentation brought to the folder review (exception: is the suspected disability includes an auditory impairment or visual impairment). Please see the chart below for potential sources of data that can be provided to assist in the student data review process. Additionally, see the Evaluation Preparation Checklist for more details. 

4. A decision will be made at the conclusion of the Folder Review Meeting about whether or not to conduct an evaluation

(a) When assessment is warranted -- Initial Consent for Assessment will be provided with a Notice of Decision and the Procedural Safeguards by the Campus Diagnostician.
(b) If the data does not support the decision for assessment -- recommendations will be given and a Notice of Decision will be provided to the parent. 

5. The campus should continue to provide (or initiate) campus based interventions and services throughout the evaluation process.

6. Once the assessment is complete, results will be reviewed with the campus staff.