Should Subjective Data Determine Eligibility?

IEP in the classroomAs I have spoken about before in “Parental Guilt: Cured by School Support”, gathering data and maintaining a paper trail is pertinent to proving the eligibility of school support. But what is important is the type of data that is collected and allowed to enter the discussion. Subjectivity on the part of teachers or other administrators sometimes infuse into a conversation regarding the determination of a 504 or an IEP.

What does that look like? Here are some examples that I have heard!

  • Mom has stated that she is having a tough time waking her son in the morning. This may be related to the medication.
  • Within the body of a school evaluation was a statement of the need of medication and also the need to have the child seen again for medication revision.
  • He just doesn’t seem to care about doing well because he doesn’t start his classwork.
  • If he were confused in class he would ask questions.
  • He seems to pay attention only when he wants to– all of this can be controlled.

The medication supposition has three areas of concern. First, the decision to medicate is up to the parents and their physician. This is a medical decision that is out of the realm of their practice as teachers and administrators. Secondly, to blame behavior on medication management is a guess at best and never should be done. Thirdly, medication does not fix executive functioning deficits. So prompting parents about medication changes, although none of their business or within their expertise to do so, does not necessarily even address an issue related to the executive functioning impairments.

Again, making assumptions about behavior in class or about whether he would advocate in a certain situation is not factual. Opinions have no place in deciding eligibility or content of an IEP in the classroom. Factual, objective data can point to presence of red flags necessitating need for further evaluation to determine IEP eligibility as well as necessary ADHD accommodations and modifications in the IEP.

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