Assessment Requests: Guides & Sample Letters

Requesting a Special Education Assessment

Special education assessments can help determine whether a child has an education disability and whether they are in need of special education services. Through special education a child may be eligible to receive an Individualized Education Program (“IEP”) that is specifically designed to meet their unique needs based on their disability.
  • Poor grades
  • Poor attendance
  • Low test scores
  • Problems with memory, concentration or attention
  • Behavior problems
  • Social or emotional problems
  • Speech and language problems
An IEP is a written education program developed by the school district, teachers, and the education rights holder (“ERH”). IEPs include how the child is currently doing and what everyone involved will do for the next school year to improve the child’s education outcomes.
  • Step 1. Complete the request letter: Fill out the sample letter (Word Doc). Include what your concerns are in the areas of academics and/or behavior. Also include why you suspect your child has a disability and/or any diagnosed disabilities they already have (e.g. ADHD or depression). Make sure to sign and date the letter.
  • Step 2. Submit the request letter: Turn in the request letter to the special education coordinator at the child’s school district.
  • Step 3. Get proof: You should get proof that the school district received your request, in case you have any difficulties getting a response from the school district. There are 3 possible ways to get proof that you submitted the special education assessment request.
    • If submitting the letter in person, get a date stamp on the letter and keep a copy as proof.
    • If submitting via fax, keep a copy of the fax transmittal report confirming that the fax was received.
    • If sending via mail, send it via certified mail. Make sure to keep the certified mail receipt as proof.
  • Step 4. Get the School’s Response: Your child’s school is legally required to send you a written response within 15 calendar days of receiving the request for an assessment. Your child’s school only has two options to respond to your request. They can send you an assessment plan granting the assessment OR a written refusal to complete the assessment. DO NOT accept other options. Do not agree to a parent-teacher conference or a Student Study Team (SST) meeting instead of the assessment you requested.
  • Step 5. Review and Sign the Assessment Plan: After you receive the assessment plan from the school, you have 15 calendar days to sign it and return it. Before returning it to the school, review the assessment plan to make sure they are doing all necessary assessments (i.e. cognition, academics, motor/processing, social/emotional/ behavioral/attention). Request in writing, on the assessment plan, to receive a copy of the assessment report(s) 5 business days before the IEP meeting.
  • Step 6. Holding the IEP Meeting: After you return the signed assessment plan to your child’s school, the school legally has only 60 calendar days to hold an Individualized Education Program (“IEP”) meeting to discuss the results of the assessments and whether your child is eligible for special education. Make sure to read your child’s assessment report prior to the meeting and prepare any questions you may want to ask at the meeting. If you don’t agree with the school’s determination of IEP eligibility or the services/supports they offer, don’t sign the IEP document. Ask your school for a list of attorneys/advocates who can help you appeal their decision.

Download instructions in Spanish (PDF) | Download sample letter in Spanish (Word Doc)
Download instructions in English (PDF) | Download sample letter in English (Word Doc)

Requesting a Special Education Assessment for a Preschooler

Children with special needs are potentially eligible for special education services through their local school district at age three, even if they are not attending a preschool program. If your child received early intervention services from your local regional center, your child’s service coordinator should refer her to the local school district.
Special education assessments can help determine whether a child has an education disability and whether they are in need of special education services. Through special education a child may be eligible to receive an Individualized Education Program (“IEP”) that is specifically designed to meet their unique needs based on their disability.
  • Delay in reaching developmental milestones
  • Social or emotional problems
  • Speech and language problems
  • Fine or Gross Motor problems
An IEP is a written education program developed by the school district, teachers, and the education rights holder (“ERH”). IEPs include how the child is currently doing and what everyone involved will do for the next school year to improve the child’s education outcomes.
  • Step 1. Complete the request letter: Fill out the sample letter (Word Doc). Include your developmental and behavior concerns of the child. Also include why you suspect the child has a disability and/or any diagnosed disabilities they already have (e.g. ADHD, FASD). Make sure to sign and date the letter.
  • Step 2. Submit the letter: Turn in the request letter to the special education coordinator at the child’s school district.
  • Step 3. Get proof: You should get proof that the school district received your request, in case you have any difficulties getting a response from the school district. There are 3 possible ways to get proof that you submitted the special education assessment request.
    • If submitting the letter in person, get a date stamp on the letter and keep a copy as proof.
    • If submitting via fax, keep a copy of the fax transmittal report confirming that the fax was received.
    • If sending via mail, send it via certified mail. Make sure to keep the certified mail receipt as proof.
  • Step 4. Get the school district’s response: Your child’s school district is legally required to send you a written response within 15 calendar days of receiving the request for an assessment. Your child’s school district only has two options to respond to your request. They can send you an assessment plan granting the assessment OR a written refusal to complete the assessment. DO NOT accept other options.
  • Step 5. Review and Sign the Assessment Plan: After you receive the assessment plan from the school district, you have 15 calendar days to sign and return it. Before returning it to the school district, review the assessment plan to make sure they are doing all necessary assessments. Request in writing, on the assessment plan, to receive a copy of the assessment report(s) 5 business days before the IEP meeting.
  • Step 6. Holding the IEP Meeting: After you return the signed assessment plan to the child’s school district, the school district legally has only 60 calendar days to hold an Individualized Education Program (“IEP”) meeting to discuss the results of the assessments and whether the child is eligible for special education services. If your child received early intervention services, then she is entitled to an IEP by her third birthday. Make sure to read the child’s assessment report prior to the meeting and prepare any questions you may want to ask at the meeting. You do not need to sign the IEP document if you do not agree with the school district’s determination of IEP eligibility or the services/supports they offer. Ask your school for a list of attorneys/advocates who can help you appeal their decision.

Download instructions in Spanish (PDF) | Download sample letter in Spanish (Word Doc)
Download instructions in English (PDF) | Download sample letter in English (Word Doc)

Requesting an Assessment for Early Start Referral

Early Start assessments can help determine whether a child has a developmental delay and whether they are in need of early intervention services. Through Early Start, a child may be eligible to receive an Individualized Family Service Plan (“IFSP”) that is specifically designed to meet their unique needs and the concerns of the family
  • Fine Motor or Gross Motor delays
  • Cognitive delays
  • Self-Help or Adaptive delays
  • Social-Emotional concerns
  • Communication delays
  • Formal diagnosis (e.g. cerebral palsy, autism, down syndrome)
An IFSP is a written service plan developed by the regional center service coordinator, early intervention service providers/evaluators/assessors and the education rights holder (“ERH”). IFSPs include the child’s current strengths and weaknesses and the supportive services necessary to improve the child’s developmental outcomes.
  • Step 1. Complete the request letter: Fill out the sample letter (Word Doc). Include your developmental concerns. Also include why you suspect the child has a disability and/or any diagnosed disabilities they already have (e.g. Down Syndrome or a neurological disorder). Make sure to sign and date the letter.
  • Step 2. Submit the letter: Forward the letter to Early Start Intake Department at the regional center. (note: Regardless of who is submitting the referral please include the education rights holders [ERH] name on the letter. The regional center will need to contact the ERH in order to process the referral. If the child has an open DCFS case, ask the social worker to submit a DCFS 5004 referral form as soon as possible.
  • Step 3. Get proof: You should get proof that the regional center received your request, in case you have any difficulties getting a response from the regional center. There are 3 possible ways to get proof that you submitted the Early Start referral/assessment request.
    • If submitting the letter in person, get a date stamp on the letter and keep a copy as proof.
    • If submitting via fax, keep a copy of the fax transmittal report confirming that the fax was received.
    • If sending via mail, send it via certified mail. Make sure to keep the certified mail receipt as proof.
  • Step 4. Get the regional center’s response: Although there is no legal timeline in which the regional center needs to respond to this request, the law requires that the initial evaluation and assessments must be timely and if the child is eligible, the IFSP must be developed within 45 days from the initial referral. As a result, the regional center should be in touch with the ERH sometime before then in order to gather more information about the child and discuss conducting the assessments.
  • Step 5. Sign the consent for assessment: The regional center cannot evaluate and assess the child until the consent is signed by the ERH.
  • Step 6. Holding the IFSP Meeting: The Individualized Family Service Plan (“IFSP”) is due 45 calendar days from the date of referral, if the child is found eligible for Early Start. Make sure to ask for copies of any evaluation or assessment before the IFSP meeting so that you have a chance to review and prepare questions. You do not have to sign the IFSP document if you do not agree with the services/supports the regional center is offering. Ask your regional center for the contact information for the Office of Client’s Rights Advocacy or contact our office for additional referrals for attorneys/advocates who can help you appeal their decision.

Download instructions in Spanish (PDF) | Download sample letter in Spanish (Word Doc)
Download instructions in English (PDF) | Download sample letter in English (Word Doc)