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Triennial Evaluations: Divorcing the Means from the Ends

College of Education and Human Development, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA 22030, USA
College of Education, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, MA 01854, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Garry Hornby and James M. Kauffman
Educ. Sci. 2021, 11(7), 314;
Received: 31 March 2021 / Revised: 28 May 2021 / Accepted: 8 June 2021 / Published: 23 June 2021
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. View Full-Text
Keywords: assessment; inclusion; students with disabilities; secondary education; triennial evaluations assessment; inclusion; students with disabilities; secondary education; triennial evaluations
MDPI and ACS Style

Brigham, F.J.; Claude, C.M.; McKenna, J.W. Triennial Evaluations: Divorcing the Means from the Ends. Educ. Sci. 2021, 11, 314.

AMA Style

Brigham FJ, Claude CM, McKenna JW. Triennial Evaluations: Divorcing the Means from the Ends. Education Sciences. 2021; 11(7):314.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Brigham, Frederick J., Christopher M. Claude, and John W. McKenna 2021. "Triennial Evaluations: Divorcing the Means from the Ends" Education Sciences 11, no. 7: 314.

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