Observation Is Not Evaluation

GirardEdwards_image01Author: David Girard, Attorney at Law 

A one to one aide’s data collection and observations of a student with autism’s worsening behavior did not amount to an informal evaluation. A proper evaluation requires:

– A variety of assessment tools;

– A variety of strategies; and

– A qualified assessor.

Worsening behavior can require a new evaluation. Here, the court held that the District failed to use a variety of assessment tools and strategies to evaluate the student’s behavior by merely conducting an observation and collecting data. Furthermore, the aide, who was seeking her board certification in behavioral analysis, did not appear to be qualified to conduct a functional behavioral assessment. Consequently, the District’s failure to assess Student’s behavior constituted a procedural violation of the IDEA.

Practice Tip:  Along with direct observation in conducting an FBA, other tools and strategies may include interviews of key individuals to determine concerns and perspectives about the student and to identify the events associated with the occurrence and nonoccurrence of certain behaviors, review of records, and use of checklists and questionnaires for insight into the function of maintaining certain behaviors.

M.S. by Sartin v. Lake Elsinore Unified School District (7/24/15) 13-CV-01-1484-CAS (SPx); 115 LRP 33700.



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