What is a Multi-Factored Evaluation (MFE)
The Multi-Factored Evaluation is the process required by IDEA to determine if a child is eligible for special education services. The process may be initiated by either school personnel or a parent. Education professionals along with a child’s parents are members of the MFE team, who work together to determine if a child qualifies for special education services. Team members should include a school psychologist, the child’s parent(s) or guardian(s), a special education and/or general education teacher, appropriate related service personnel, such as a speech-language pathologist or an occupational therapist, and others based on the child’s needs.
The purpose of the MFE is twofold:
1. To determine whether or not the child has a disability
2. To identify the child’s specialized educational needs
Having a diagnosed disability is not a guarantee that your child will receive special education services. The disability must also have a “significant impact” on your child’s educational, emotional, and/or functional skill. This means that your child’s ability to learn and function in school is impaired by the disability to the extent that specially designed instruction is necessary for the child to be successful.
Steps to Obtaining an MFE
If school personnel do not share your concerns about your child’s functioning in school, you, as parents, still have the right to request an MFE from the district. You must request an MFE in writing and must give written consent for the evaluation to your local school district.
There are three ways to request an MFE:
- Send a letter of request and consent to your child’s school principal or the special education coordinator/director.
- Go to the Ohio Department of Education website HERE and print out the Request for Evaluation Form, complete it, and send it to the school with the letter requesting a Multi-Factored Evaluation.
- Set up a meeting with the principal or special education coordinator to complete the necessary paperwork at your school.
Within 30 days of your request, the school district is required to send you a letter, called “prior written notice,” telling you whether or not the district will perform the MFE.
If the school agrees, an MFE Team will be identified. At a minimum, the team must include the parents, a district representative, and a school psychologist. The school and the parents will have a planning meeting to determine and document what assessments will be done for the child. According to IDEA, this evaluation process must be completed within 60 days from the day of the parent’s written consent.
The MFE process includes various assessments as well as observations of your child completed by school personnel and you, the parents. Parents should consider requesting assessments in all of the following areas: communication, social, motor, sensory, emotional, behavioral, functional and academic performance.
After the evaluation process is complete, an Evaluation Team Report (ETR) will be prepared and a meeting will be held to review the report. At the meeting all assessment information is reviewed and explained to the parents. Parents can submit additional information to school personnel and ask the MFE team to consider it and address it in the ETR. Information from other sources may include therapy reports, medical reports, and reports from other evaluations that have been performed. At the ETR meeting, the team determines whether the child qualifies for services under IDEA in the autism category.
If you believe that the ETR represents a true picture of your child, including developmental, academic, and functional skills, as well as areas of need, present levels of functioning, and how the disability affects your child’s progress in the general curriculum, you, along with all other team members, will sign the final page of the ETR. By signing the report, parents are agreeing to the results of the report. If the report recommends special education services for the child, these services are determined by the IEP team and written into an IEP document. Once the team determines that the child qualifies for services under IDEA, and the ETR is signed by all MFE team members, a copy is given to the parents.
At this point, a team is formed to develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP). The IEP team has 30 days to develop an IEP that addresses the child’s areas of need as defined in the evaluation report.
If parents disagree with the ETR, they may request further evaluation by the school in specific areas, or they may request an Independent Education Evaluation. This refers to an evaluation completed by another qualified professional or group of professionals. This request for an independent evaluation must be made in writing. If the team determines that the child does not qualify under IDEA in the autism category and you disagree, you may seek an independent evaluation.
Additional resources available at …
WrightsLaw: Assessments; Evaluations & Tests; Individualized Education Program (IEP); What to do if the school does not want to do an evaluation ...; Independent Education Evalutions: What? Why? How? Who Pays?
Portions of the information above were duplicated from the following:
- Ohio’s Parent Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorders published by OCALI (Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence)