If you are asking the question “Should I have my child evaluated?” the answer is probably “Yes.” However, I know the process of getting an educational evaluation for your child can seem daunting if you don’t know what you’re getting into. Here is an overview of what you can expect and what your options are when it comes to having your child evaluated.
School versus Private Evaluation
Either the school will conduct an educational evaluation, upon your consent, or you can have a private evaluation done.
A school evaluation begins with a referral and is free of charge. If a student’s performance appears to significantly lag in one academic area, your child may be recommended for an assessment, which will determine if they should receive special education services. It’s important to note that if a child’s education is successfully being supplemented with outside resources, such as a tutor, the school may deny a request for evaluation. They have to show significant delay or difficulty compared to the wide range of other students.
It is also important to note that the results of a school evaluation will go on the child’s academic record.
A private evaluation is chosen by parents, conducted apart from the school and will have a fee. This assessment identifies students’ strengths and weaknesses. While a diagnosis may be involved, the ultimate goal is to identify the areas a child is struggling or succeeding in and to make recommendations for how their learning can be accommodated.
My goal as an educational psychologist is to make everything clear for parents. Students who do have a learning disability may excel in one area while struggling in another. I make both of these very clear for parents, so they can understand how to best help their kids.
In the case of a private evaluation, the results will only be shared with the school if the parent wants them to be.
The Evaluation Process
If the process is being done through a school, parents will need to provide consent to an assessment plan. This is one way parents can be involved in the process. If you would like to see a change in the plan, you have the opportunity to discuss this with your school.
Once you have given the go-ahead, evaluators will observe your child in the classroom, with additional testing happening outside of the classroom. You can contribute to the process at this time by preparing your child. Let them know that they may be pulled out of their classroom.
If the evaluation will be done privately, the bulk of it will be done in a private office. A variety of tests will be administered. I also make it a priority to observe kids in their classrooms. In the case of a private evaluation, parents have plenty of opportunity to be involved in the process.
If the results reveal the need for special education, a team can be convened at the child’s school to determine the need for an Individual Education Plan (IEP). An IEP lays out goals and objectives to meet student needs through special education.
Alternatively, a 504 Plan may be recommended. The 504 provides provisions for students who can benefit from a classroom but need modifications.
The results of a private evaluation will include a better understanding of how your child thinks and works. It may also result in an IEP or 504. Tutoring, educational therapy or counseling may also be recommended after a private evaluation. In the end, parents will leave more informed.
If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. I want to help you understand your options and pick the best one for your child.