One of the goals of public education is to create an environment where everyone has the opportunity to learn. To do this, education’s governing bodies have created programs that seek to make learning more equitable and fair for everyone. One of these measures is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

As part of IDEA, schools are required to evaluate all students who may need special education services. These student evaluations must be tailored to the individual. This means that assessments must be given one-on-one with only the evaluator and the student present. They also have to be nondiscriminatory.

What Does Nondiscriminatory Mean?

In this context, nondiscriminatory means that the test must be deemed “valid” by educational standards. Valid is official education language that means a test is not biased for or against any individual or group. So tests must be given in the student’s primary language, and any other burdens, such as cost, should be removed so that they don’t influence the student’s outcomes on the evaluation.

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What Happens During a Nondiscriminatory Evaluation?

A nondiscriminatory evaluation has many steps. First, stakeholders must determine if a nondiscriminatory evaluation is necessary. Someone at the school may start the evaluation process, or parents can start the process themselves. Either way, a parent must consent to the evaluation, and assessment must be completed within 30 days of initiation. Students already receiving special education services must be reevaluated every three years or more frequently.

Who Takes Part in a Nondiscriminatory Evaluation?

In addition to the student and the parents, several workers from the school or school district must be involved in evaluating a student. These may include but are not limited to a special education teacher, a principal, a guidance counselor and a subject-area expert. For older students or students who participated in classes in the school’s general population, one or more classroom teachers may be involved in the evaluation process.

How Does Nondiscriminatory Assessment Work?

After the evaluation period has begun, the group of stakeholders will gather information about the student’s disability. This may include logs of behavior and social skills, examples of classwork and more. Sometimes a student will be given a nondiscriminatory assessment. A nondiscriminatory assessment might be a standardized test or a norm-referenced test. They can also include observational assessments based on written criteria. Interviews also fall into this category.

After assessment, the group of stakeholders will reconvene to determine the best course of action for students. This can include special classes, such as sessions with a speech therapist. Other help may include IEPs, 504 plans or more extensive assistance.

About the Author

Rebecca Renner is a teacher and college professor from Florida. She loves teaching about literature, and she writes about books for Book Riot, Real Simple, Electric Literature and more.