Skip to main content

Evaluation Procedures

The Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) regulations provide local education agencies (LEAs) with guidelines for conducting evaluations. The LEA must:

  • Provide notice to the parents of a child with a disability (or suspected disability) that describes any evaluation procedures the agency proposes to conduct;
  • Use a variety of assessment tools and strategies to gather relevant functional, developmental, and academic information about the child, including information provided by the parent;
  • Not use any single measure or assessment as the sole criterion for determining whether a child has a disability and for determining an appropriate educational program for the child; and
  • Use technically sound instruments that may assess the relative contribution of cognitive and behavioral factors, in addition to physical or developmental factors.

These tools and strategies may assist in determining:

  • Whether the child is a child with a disability according to federal guidelines; and
  • The content of the child’s individualized education program (IEP), including information related to enabling the child to be involved in and progress in the general education curriculum (or appropriate activities, for preschool-age children).

To ensure LEAs are conducting appropriate evaluations, the IDEA regulations note several assurances that LEAs must follow, including:

  • Making sure evaluation materials are not discriminatory on a racial or cultural basis;
  • They are provided and administered in the child’s native language or other mode of communication; and
  • Are tailored to assess specific areas of educational need.


34 CFR, §300.304 Evaluation procedures

  1. Notice. The public agency must provide notice to the parents of a child with a disability, in accordance with §300.503, that describes any evaluation procedures the agency proposes to conduct.
  2. Conduct of evaluation. In conducting the evaluation, the public agency must—
    1. Use a variety of assessment tools and strategies to gather relevant functional, developmental, and academic information about the child, including information provided by the parent, that may assist in determining—
      1. Whether the child is a child with a disability under §300.8; and
      2. The content of the child's IEP, including information related to enabling the child to be involved in and progress in the general education curriculum (or for a preschool child, to participate in appropriate activities);
    2. Not use any single measure or assessment as the sole criterion for determining whether a child is a child with a disability and for determining an appropriate educational program for the child; and
    3. Use technically sound instruments that may assess the relative contribution of cognitive and behavioral factors, in addition to physical or developmental factors.
  3. Other evaluation procedures. Each public agency must ensure that—
    1. Assessments and other evaluation materials used to assess a child under this part—
      1. Are selected and administered so as not to be discriminatory on a racial or cultural basis;
      2. Are provided and administered in the child's native language or other mode of communication and in the form most likely to yield accurate information on what the child knows and can do academically, developmentally, and functionally, unless it is clearly not feasible to so provide or administer;
      3. Are used for the purposes for which the assessments or measures are valid and reliable;
      4. Are administered by trained and knowledgeable personnel; and
      5. Are administered in accordance with any instructions provided by the producer of the assessments.
    2. Assessments and other evaluation materials include those tailored to assess specific areas of educational need and not merely those that are designed to provide a single general intelligence quotient.
    3. Assessments are selected and administered so as best to ensure that if an assessment is administered to a child with impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills, the assessment results accurately reflect the child's aptitude or achievement level or whatever other factors the test purports to measure, rather than reflecting the child's impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills (unless those skills are the factors that the test purports to measure).
    4. The child is assessed in all areas related to the suspected disability, including, if appropriate, health, vision, hearing, social and emotional status, general intelligence, academic performance, communicative status, and motor abilities;
    5. Assessments of children with disabilities who transfer from one public agency to another public agency in the same school year are coordinated with those children's prior and subsequent schools, as necessary and as expeditiously as possible, consistent with §300.301(d)(2) and (e), to ensure prompt completion of full evaluations.
    6. In evaluating each child with a disability under §§300.304 through 300.306, the evaluation is sufficiently comprehensive to identify all of the child's special education and related services needs, whether or not commonly linked to the disability category in which the child has been classified.
    7. Assessment tools and strategies that provide relevant information that directly assists persons in determining the educational needs of the child are provided.



34 CFR, §300.503 Prior notice by the public agency; content of notice

  1. Notice. Written notice that meets the requirements of paragraph (b) of this section must be given to the parents of a child with a disability a reasonable time before the public agency—
    1. Proposes to initiate or change the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of the child or the provision of FAPE to the child; or
    2. Refuses to initiate or change the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of the child or the provision of FAPE to the child.
  2. Content of notice. The notice required under paragraph (a) of this section must include—
    1. A description of the action proposed or refused by the agency;
    2. An explanation of why the agency proposes or refuses to take the action;
    3. A description of each evaluation procedure, assessment, record, or report the agency used as a basis for the proposed or refused action;
    4. A statement that the parents of a child with a disability have protection under the procedural safeguards of this part and, if this notice is not an initial referral for evaluation, the means by which a copy of a description of the procedural safeguards can be obtained;
    5. Sources for parents to contact to obtain assistance in understanding the provisions of this part;
    6. A description of other options that the IEP Team considered and the reasons why those options were rejected; and
    7. A description of other factors that are relevant to the agency's proposal or refusal.
  3. Notice in understandable language. 
    1. The notice required under paragraph (a) of this section must be—
        1. Written in language understandable to the general public; and
        2. Provided in the native language of the parent or other mode of communication used by the parent, unless it is clearly not feasible to do so.
    1. If the native language or other mode of communication of the parent is not a written language, the public agency must take steps to ensure—
        1. That the notice is translated orally or by other means to the parent in his or her native language or other mode of communication;
        2. That the parent understands the content of the notice; and
        3. That there is written evidence that the requirements in paragraphs (c)(2)(i) and (ii) of this section have been met.