4. Describe the required observation.

The public agency must ensure that the child is observed in the child’s learning environment (including the regular classroom setting) to document the child’s academic performance and behavior in the areas of difficulty.

The group described in 34 CFR 300.306(a)(1), in determining whether a child has a specific learning disability, must decide to:
  • Use information from an observation in routine classroom instruction and monitoring of the child’s performance that was done before the child was referred for an evaluation; or
  • Have at least one member of the group described in 34 CFR 300.306(a)(1) conduct an observation of the child’s academic performance in the regular classroom after the child has been referred for an evaluation and parental consent, consistent with 34 CFR 300.300(a), is obtained.
In the case of a child of less than school age or out of school, a group member must observe the child in an environment appropriate for a child of that age.
[34 CFR 300.310] [20 U.S.C. 1221e-3; 1401(30); 1414(b)(6)]

Dialogue Starter - Cross-stakeholder

Reaction Questions

  1. Observation of the child in the classroom was required by previous regulations. In your opinion, will the required observation change in current practice and within new RTI frameworks?

  2. How and when are students currently observed? By whom? In what environments? What are some reasons that a student may be formally observed prior to referral?

  3. Do you think one observation is sufficient to document behaviors that might indicate the presence of a specific learning disability?
    • Who is the most appropriate person to conduct this observation?
    • Does this person change, depending on the referral concerns?

  4. What might be the benefit of considering the child’s learning environment and service delivery, rather than just the child, during observation? How can observing classroom dynamics and interactions be helpful to decision-making?

Application Questions

  1. What process needs to be put in place to conduct student observations as described in this regulation?

  2. What process/procedures can be put into place to ensure that the information from the classroom observation results in useful information to be considered by the IEP team?

  3. How will school personnel be trained to collect observational and performance data on all students? How can parents and others share observational data in this process?

    These questions were developed by the following stakeholders working together:

    Role: Policymaker
    Location: Arizona

    Role: Special Education Administrator
    Location: California

    Role: Educational Consultant
    Location: Florida

    Role: General Education Administrator
    Location: Illinois

    Role: Family Member
    Location: Indiana

    Role: Higher Education
    Location: Indiana

    Role: Service Provider
    Location: Kentucky

    Role: Related Service Provider
    Location: Maryland *

    Role: Family Member
    Location: North Carolina

    Role: TA Provider
    Location: California