Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Multidisciplinary Evaluation Team (I)

A. Function and Purpose - A team approach (many values, perspectives, ideas) provides greater accuracy in the decision making process of identifying the student's academic, social, and vocational needs and in developing an individualized educational program to meet those needs. The team functions to support students needing special education and related services, and to help keep students in the regular educational settings. Membership requires a shared responsibility and open communication in the form of collaboration and not just coordination.

Membership may vary, but regular, special, and vocational education are represented by teachers, administrators, and appropriate specialists serving in selected roles such as therapists, counselors, psychologists, bilingual teachers, and curriculum specialists. Parents, students, student's peers, and others can also serve on the team. Continuity of team membership is important and the team should be school based with some freedom to adjust membership in response to the perceived needs of referred pupils. Major functions of the team include:

1. Determining if the student is a student with a disability and requires special education services;

2. Planning and evaluating educational experiences of students who have been identified as in need of special education services; and

3. Developing a plan of action that meets the educational, social, and vocational needs of students with disabilities without placing them in special education and, if necessary, identifying the student's unique needs in order to develop an individualized educational program.

Basic multidisciplinary team activities include:

1. Receiving and evaluating initial referrals of students who are experiencing difficulty in the regular class or who are in need of special education on entering the educational system.

2. Developing intervention strategies that may be used in the regular class for those students who will benefit most from regular education with provided modifications.

3. Initiating the assessment process for students who are suspected of having a disability.

4. Reviewing student assessment data and existing information.

5. Developing an individualized educational program for the student.

6. Deciding on the appropriate placement for the student.

7. Acting as a support system for educators who serve students with special needs.

Note: Exact purposes of the multidisciplinary team may vary among local school districts. Some teams work only during the prereferral stage attempting to keep the student in the regular classroom (S-Team), some teams work on both prereferral (informal stage) and referral (formal stage) (S-Team), and some teams work on formal assessment, IEP development, and placement (IEP Team).

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