Initial Referral Overview
It is important to identify students who are having difficulties as early as possible in order to help them to succeed to their optimum potential. Often teachers, who are exposed to many students with a wide range of ability levels, are the first to notice that a child's behaviors or skills are significantly different from those of other students his or her age. When this happens, the teacher will usually discuss his or her observations with the parents and refer the student to the Student Support Team (SST).
Although SST is a regular education procedure – not a special education process – special education personnel are sometimes consulted to suggest modifications and share their expertise about specific disability areas. State rules and regulations require that numerous interventions recommended by the SST must precede referrals for a special education eligibility evaluation. In some cases this can be bypassed when the disability or need is apparent and justification is submitted. When problems are identified, students are sometimes referred for evaluation to determine if they are eligible for special education services.
If the problem has a medical basis, a physician may alert the parents to irregularities that cause problems that might effect educational performance. A wide range of difficulties from developmental, physical (such as vision, hearing, attention, or motor problems), emotional, or cognitive differences might signal the need for evaluation.
If parents suspect that their child may be having problems at school, they should contact the child's teacher or the counselor at the school he or she is attending to explore options to help the student to succeed.