With whom should I consult to refer a student for screening for special services?

If you are concerned about an aspect of a student's behavior, such as physical, health, communication and learning, emotional well-being, or social behavior, a first step is to communicate with the student's parents to gather information. Depending on the area of concern, there are a variety of school personnel who can assist you with screening procedures and information gathering for documenting your concerns and interventions.

Factual Information

You are often the student's best advocate in initiating communication with appropriate personnel in order for the student to receive appropriate services. It is not uncommon for a teacher to ask initial questions regarding a student's behavior during parent conferences where mutual concerns and questions are sometimes shared. The teacher and parents can decide together what steps should be taken. Sometimes the student can share meaningful information to assist you in addressing your concerns.

Unfortunately, the process sometimes is not clearly articulated. Most schools have a variety of teams and personnel to assist classroom teachers in making decisions at the initial stages of referral for screenings and other special services. Student concerns regarding physical and health issues should be referred to the school nurse. Special education personnel such as teachers for students who are deaf/hard of hearing; teachers for students who are blind/low vision; teachers for students who have physical disabilities, occupational therapists, and physical therapists can all assist with screenings and referrals. Frequently, these personnel are not always present at the school and you may not know them. If this is the case, special education staff, administration, and administrative support staff can assist you in communicating with these specialists.

Concerns regarding learning and communication are frequently addressed by teams that meet at the school to problem-solve and support all staff and students in the school. (Refer to Essential Question 7, subquestion 5 kfor more information on site-based student support teams). Many initiatives exist to support teachers when they are concerned about student learning and communication, such as Response to Intervention (RTI) and gathering data to support referrals for special services. Consulting with special education teachers will assist in determining a process for referral. Speech and language clinicians will help with communication concerns.

When teachers are concerned about a student's general behavior and social/emotional skills, a variety of staff are available depending on local systems and resources. Social workers, behavior analysts, school psychologists, and counselors can assist in problem-solving and making referrals to other sources if needed.

Classroom Activities

No classroom activities are available at this time.


No collaborative activities are available at this time.

Resources and Links

Helpful Sites on Screenings

Helpful Sites on Response to Intervention (RTI)

Helpful Sites on communication