When schools consider evaluating a child, they look to see if the student’s performance is below the instructional level of the class. If a child is struggling, but not failing, they are likely not going to evaluate the student. This is difficult for parents to hear.
It’s important to know that school evaluations are not withheld due to a lack of concern. The school districts are trying to direct their resources to kids who need it most. Their time, funds and programs are designed for specific learning needs, and they cannot accommodate students who are just struggling to keep up with the pace of the class.
While this may make sense to the parent who is trying to get their child help, it doesn’t provide any actionable advice. That’s why I have pulled together four things you can do now that your child has been denied an IEP.
1. Work with an educational tutor.
Educational tutors go beyond reviewing homework and lessons. They assess students’ studying and learning habits. Then they find new strategies that best complement students’ strengths and weaknesses.
Your child may just need specific assistance with executive function skills, which include organization, time management, perseverance, and more. An educational tutor can help focus in on these issues. Often, parents will recognize similar struggles in their own lives and benefit alongside their child.
2. Build evidence.
Start collecting documents that reflect your child’s performance. Tests, homework and emails from teachers may help build a more convincing argument for why your child should be evaluated. Make sure to document progress or lack there of if your child is getting outside help. If your child’s education is being successfully supplemented, then extra help may be all your child needs. The absence of progress may be an additional argument for an assessment.
3. Consider a private evaluation.
Private evaluations or Independent Educational Evaluations (IEE) are always an option. The benefit of having an evaluation done privately, rather than through a school, is that parents will receive plenty of insight into the areas their child is struggling and thriving. Parents can also decide if test results will go on their child’s academic record.
During my time as a school psychologist, it was difficult to not be able to give the parents more information and suggestions on how they can help their child. It brings me a lot of joy to be able to do this for families now that I have my own private practice.
4. Talk to an education advocate.
Education advocates help parents navigate the processes and jargon often involved in the special education process. This person will have plenty of advice and direction if you think your child should be in special education despite the school’s refusal to do an evaluation.
An education advocate can be an asset after the evaluation process as well when progress reports heavy with education terminology start coming home. Parents should not feel alone or overwhelmed with reports and terminology. There are people who can help you.
If you are struggling to get your child educational help, please reach out to me! I have over 30 years of experience helping families get the educational help they need for their children.