The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has received numerous questions from special education directors, directors of approved special education schools and other stakeholders regarding the use of extended evaluations, particularly when the extended evaluation is conducted at an approved special education school or in a collaborative program setting. For example, DESE is often asked if such an extended evaluation should be treated as a placement for the student being evaluated. Therefore, DESE is issuing this advisory to provide clarification regarding the use of extended evaluations in public schools, educational collaboratives and approved special education schools pursuant to 603 C.M.R. 28.05(2)(b).
The Massachusetts Special Education regulations provide that, within 45 school working days after receiving parental consent to an initial evaluation or reevaluation, the district shall conduct an evaluation and convene a Team meeting to review the data, determine whether the student needs special education, and if so, develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP). If the Team determines the student is eligible but finds that the evaluation information is insufficient or requires clarification in order to develop a full IEP, the Team may consider an extended evaluation. The purpose of the extended evaluation is to gather additional information to enable the Team to write a full IEP for the student. It is not to be used to complete the required assessments that should have been completed by the school district within the 45 days after receiving parental consent. The extended evaluation may last longer than one week but shall not exceed eight school weeks. An extended evaluation is not a placement.