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Before making a referral

If your child is having difficulty in school, you may want to talk with the school before making a referral for a special education evaluation. When a student shows signs of difficulty in school, one of the first steps may be to observe the student in the classroom or other areas of the school to see if changes might be made that will help the student do better. Sometimes students will do much better simply by changing seats in the classroom, or by having the teacher discuss the daily schedule each morning. Sometimes the school may suggest that a vision screening may be helpful. Other changes may include trying new ways to teach your child or finding different ways your child can express what has been learned. The teacher may change the way the classroom is set up or may arrange for extra help from other school professionals. These supports or changes in the classroom are part of the Response to Intervention (RTI) Program that is mandated by the federal government. Each school has a Response to Intervention (RTI) Team. 

For detailed information regarding referral for special education and eligibility, please see:

A Parent's Guide to Special Education, written by the Federation for Children with Special Needs in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education. This guide is meant to serve as a resource for parents and the organizations that serve them. The Guide contains the most current and accurate information available regarding the special education system in Massachusetts. It is the hope of the Federation that this publication will assist families in obtaining the supports and services that their children with disabilities need to succeed in school. Please click on the link below for the guide or visit the website at .

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) also offers information on special education for parents.