Screenings

Screening means an informal or formal process of determining the status of a child with respect to appropriate developmental and academic norms. Screening may include observations, family interviews, review of medical, developmental, or education records, or the administration of specific instruments identified by the text publisher as appropriate for use as screening tools.” [A.A.C. R7-2-401(B)(24)]

  • Hearing Screening

The regulations that implement the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) require that students are “assessed in all areas related to the suspected disability, including if appropriate, health, vision, hearing, social and emotional status, general intelligence, academic performance, communicative status, and motor abilities.” [34 C.F.R. §300.304(c)(4)]

The regulations that implement the IDEA do not require annual hearing screenings for students with disabilities, and there is no Arizona State Board of Education rule governing special education that requires annual hearing screenings for students with disabilities. However, the Arizona Department of Health Services requires annual hearing screenings for students who receive special education. [Arizona Administrative Code (A.A.C.) R9-13-102]

For information on hearing screenings or Department of Health Services reporting requirements and procedures, visit the AZ Department of Health Services website or telephone 602-542-1860.

  • Vision Screening

The regulations that implement the IDEA require that students are “assessed in all areas related to the suspected disability, including if appropriate, health, vision, hearing, social and emotional status, general intelligence, academic performance, communicative status, and motor abilities.” [34 C.F.R. § 300.304(c)(4)]

The regulations that implement the IDEA do not require annual vision screenings for students with disabilities, and there is no Arizona statute or rule that requires annual vision screenings for students with disabilities. However, annual vision screenings for students eligible for special education may be in the student’s best interest and are recommended in the Arizona Department of Health Services’ Vision Screening Guidelines.

For information on vision screenings, visit the AZ Department of Health Services website or telephone 602-542-1860.

  • Child Find/45-Day Screening

Arizona State Board of Education rules (found in the Arizona Administrative Code) require that “identification (screening for possible disabilities) shall be completed within 45 calendar days after entry of each preschool or kindergarten student and any student enrolling without appropriate records of screening, evaluation, and progress in school, or after notification to the [school] by parents of concerns regarding developmental or educational progress by their child aged 3 years through 21 years.” [A.A.C. R7-2-401(D)(5)] “If a concern about a student is identified through screening procedures or through review of records, the public education agency shall notify the parents of the student of the concern within 10 school days and inform them of the public education agency procedures to follow-up on the student’s needs.” [A.A.C. R7-2-401(D)(8)]

“For a student transferring into a school, the public agency shall review enrollment data and educational performance in the prior school. If there is a history of special education for a student not currently eligible for special education, or poor progress, the name of the student shall be submitted to the administrator for consideration of the need for a referral for a full and individual evaluation or other services. If a concern about a student is identified through screening procedures or through review of records, the public education agency shall notify the parents of the student of the concern within 10 school days and inform them of the public education agency procedures to follow-up on the student’s needs.” [A.A.C. R7-2-401(D)(7) and (8)]

  • Screening vs. Evaluation

The regulations that implement the IDEA state that “the screening of a student by a teacher or specialist to determine appropriate instructional strategies for curriculum implementation shall not be considered to be an evaluation for eligibility for special education and related services.” [34 C.F.R. 300.302] Therefore, a screening for the purpose outlined above does not require parental consent.

Screenings for Groups of Children: Schools routinely engage in universal screenings such as hearing, vision, behavioral or literacy screenings for an entire district, an entire school, and entire grade level, or an entire classroom. Under the regulations that implement the IDEA, no parental consent is required for these universal screenings. In the Commentary to the IDEA regulations, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) declines to specify types of tests or testing instruments that constitute a screening versus an evaluation. However, the Commentary does offer some helpful clarification, including this information: “Screening is typically a relatively simple and quick process that can be used with groups of children,” and “[t]he term, ‘instructional strategies for curriculum implementation’ is generally used to refer to strategies a teacher may use to more effectively teach children.” [34 C.F.R. Part 300, Analysis of Comments and Changes, Subpart D—Evaluations, Eligibility Determinations, Individualized Education Programs, and Educational Placements, Federal Register, Vol. 71, No. 156, p. 46639]

Screenings for Individual Children: The regulations that implement the IDEA neither require nor prohibit states or schools from “developing and implementing policies to temporarily remove a student from his or her classroom for purposes of administering screening instruments to determine appropriate instructional strategies for the student. In addition, there is nothing in the Act that requires . . . or prohibits [states or schools] from developing and implementing policies that permit screening children to determine if evaluations are necessary. However, a screening may not be used to delay an evaluation for special education and related services.” [Letter to Torres, 53 IDELR 333 (OSERS 2009)]

Therefore, if a teacher, related service provider or other evaluator uses a screening tool on an individual student to determine appropriate instructional strategies for curriculum implementation or to determine whether an evaluation is necessary, it is considered to be a screening and not an evaluation. Accordingly, no parental consent is required under the IDEA. However, if a school suspects that a child might be a child with a disability, then it is obligated under the regulations that implement the IDEA to proceed directly to an evaluation, which does require written informed consent from the parent.

Note: If an evaluation instrument/diagnostic instrument (not the screening component) is administered in its entirety, then it is not a screening but is instead an evaluation requiring parental consent, even if the intention of the evaluator is to conduct a screening. Said differently, the evaluator’s intended use and view of the test does not change the nature of the test; it is the instrument itself that is controlling. Further, if a school does not own the screening component of a standardized evaluation tool, it is not recommended for an evaluator to randomly pick and choose questions or subtests from the evaluation instrument to administer as a screening, for to do so throws into question the validity of the results, and the violation of the standardized test protocol renders the test unusable if the team later determines that a full assessment is warranted. Put another way, screening tools and full-scale evaluation tools should be administered according to the developer’s directions and guidelines. If evaluators are uncertain about whether a given instrument is intended for use as a screener or an assessment, they should contact the developer/publisher of the instrument.


Contact Us

Arizona Department of Education, Exceptional Student Services
Physical Location: 3300 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85012
Mailing Address: 1535 W. Jefferson St., Bin #24, Phoenix, AZ 85007
Tel: (602) 542-4013
Fax: (602) 542-5404

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