What is Needed for a TBI School Evaluation and Who Should Evaluate?

Center on Brain Injury Research and Training
What is Needed for a TBI School Evaluation and Who Should Evaluate?

To evaluate a student for Special Education Eligibility under the TBI category, the team either collects the information listed below or conducts the assessments needed to obtain the information.

Assessments

Assessments are completed by educators knowledgeable in the specific area being measured.

Medical statement or health assessment indicating that an event may have resulted in a TBI

These records may be available from the parent, in the student’s file, or may need to be requested from the hospital where the student was treated at the time of the injury.

A comprehensive psychological assessment using a battery of instruments intended to identify deficits associated with a TBI

The assessment should/must be administered by a licensed school psychologist, a psychologist licensed by a State Board of Psychological Examiners, or other individuals who have the training and experience to administer and interpret the tests within the battery. Areas typically measured are: behavior, cognition, memory, attention, abstract thinking, judgment, problem solving, reasoning, and information processing.

If a neuropsychological report has been conducted by a psychologist licensed by a state board of examiners and the evaluation team agrees, the results may be incorporated into the evaluation results.

Other assessments that may be included, if appropriate:

Motor assessments

In general, these assessments are conducted by a physical therapist for large motor and/or an occupational therapist for fine motor areas.

Also, include the physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech and language pathologist and school nurse to provide information on student needs in areas such as: toileting, mobility training, use of a stander, fatigue, eating/swallowing, and medication effects.

Communication assessments

To evaluate the student’s pragmatic language, eating/swallowing, current language understanding and production. This assessment is conducted by a Speech and Language Pathologist

Psychosocial assessments

These assessments should be conducted by a licensed school psychologist, a psychologist licensed by a State Board of Psychological Examiners or other individuals who have the training and experience to administer and interpret the tests within the battery.

Additional information relating to the child’s suspected disability:

Pre-injury performance

This information may be gathered through interviews and review of records. Comparing pre and post injury performance allows the team to directly compare the student’s performance across the 13 areas needed for eligibility to determine if the injury has had a negative impact on any or all of the areas. Use the work sheet in the forms section as a guide to determine precisely which areas the student has experienced a decline in abilities as a result of the TBI.

Current measure of adaptive ability

Adaptive ability measures help assess activities of daily living and should be administered by a licensed school psychologist, a psychologist licensed by a State Board, or other individuals who have the training and experience to administer and interpret the tests within the battery.

An observation in the classroom and in at least one other setting

The observation may be conducted by anyone other than the classroom teacher.

When observing students as part of a Special Education evaluation, make sure you notice how the student interacts with others and watch for signs of strengths or difficulties in their ability to: learn new information, think, concentrate, use short term and long term memory, pay attention to what is seen as well as what is heard, screen out noise or visual distractions, use abstract thinking, judgment, problem solving, reasoning, and the speed of information processing.

Assessments to determine the impact of the suspected disability:

  • On the child’s educational performance when the child is at the age of eligibility for kindergarten through age 21; or
  • On the child’s developmental progress when the child is age three through the age of eligibility for kindergarten; and
  • Any additional evaluations or assessments that are necessary to identify the child’s educational needs.

Interviews

It is best practice to conduct interviews with the parents, student, current, and if possible, previous teachers.

When interviewing for information about a student with a TBI, ask questions to determine how the student starts new activities, transitions from one activity to another, socializes, shows signs of fatigue, or confusion as well as what is working well for the student, and identified strengths in adapting to the injury.

Interview the parents to determine the impact of the injury on the family and student, and to gather information about the student’s functioning prior to the TBI and after the TBI.

Interview the student.

Ask questions about a typical day in the life of the student.

Interview classroom teachers to determine how the student is doing academically and socially post -injury. Interview teachers from previous years to compare current functioning with previous performance.

After all information is gathered and interpreted, the team will meet to determine if the student meets the criteria for Special Education Services under TBI and if the student needs special education.

If the student is in need of accommodations only and is able to use these accommodations without specially designed instruction, the team should consider creating a 504 Plan for the student.

If the student needs no support at the present time, maintain the medical records documenting the TBI and the evaluation should the student need assistance in the future.

Posted on BrainLine June 17, 2010.

From the Center on Brain Injury Research and Training. Reprinted with permission.

Comments (1)

Multidisciplinary assessment of children is crucial after a brain injury, but too few children receive them. The George Washington University Graduate School of Education has an educator training program in traumatic brain injury and how to work accross the education and rehabilitation systems to serve children with injurues. There is both a short-term certificate program as well as a full masters program that leads to teacher licensure. Contact: tjsacchi@gwmail.gwu.edu