Confusion among stakeholders regarding some aspects of the special education process—chiefly the triennial reevaluation—leads to misapplication of rules across districts and states based on interpretations of informal lore-based reasoning. Local education agencies (LEA) can determine that no additional data are needed and advise parents to forego the evaluation. Too, often, families who fear losing special education services for their child will acquiesce and decline the evaluation. Although this may be appropriate for some students, for others it can be a highly questionable and counterproductive decision. We illustrated the ways that avoiding triennial evaluations could hamper the ability of the LEA to adequately foster the student’s independence, monitor the student’s disability condition, and set and reach the student’s Individual Education Plans (IEP) goals. We argued that the major issue in decisions regarding triennial evaluations is centered on determining if a student is still eligible for special education services. This places too much attention on test-based eligibility and too little on educational needs, transition needs, and the instructional program. Triennial reevaluations should pivot from an “eligibility” focus to a “needs” focus, allowing schools and parents to gain a fresh understanding of the individual receiving the services. Failure to do so raises questions about the fidelity of assessment within the structure of special education service provision. Finally, we suggested that the motives underlying the practices for triennial evaluations illustrated here call the pragmatic acceptability of “full inclusion” into question.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited