Understanding evaluations

Having your child evaluated can be a confusing and emotional journey, with a number of steps along the way. As you take each step, you may have questions and concerns. But at the end, you should have a clearer picture of why your child is struggling and how you and the school can help your child thrive.

Learning about evaluations can help you feel more confident and prepared during the process. It also makes it easier to speak up for what your child needs, and helps pave the way for your child to do the same.

This guide can help you navigate every step in your evaluation journey.

Learning about evaluations

Your child is having trouble in school, and you don’t know why. The best way to get a full picture is to have your child evaluated. If this is your first experience, you’ll need basic information on what evaluations are and what they can lead to. And you’re likely to have questions.

What will the evaluation tell me about my child? What’s the difference between school and private evaluations? Who pays for the evaluation? What about evaluation for college testing ?

Deciding on an evaluation

Even when your child is struggling in school, it’s not always an easy decision to have your child evaluated. You may worry about your child being labeled. How will other kids treat your child? Will your child be in a regular classroom, or pulled out? You may even wonder if your child’s difficulties are serious enough for an evaluation.

These types of uncertainties are common. Having answers can help you feel comfortable with whatever decision you make.

Requesting an evaluation

Once you’ve decided to have your child evaluated, the next question is: “How do I make this happen?” The process for requesting a school evaluation is formal, but it’s not complicated. If the school agrees, the process begins.

But what if the school denies your request? Where do you go from there? What if you decide to seek a private evaluation instead of a school evaluation? And is the process different depending on what your child’s struggling with?

Preparing for an evaluation

Once you request an evaluation, what happens next? There are a number of steps involved in the process. Your child will take a series of tests that look at different areas of learning, including reading, writing, math, and memory.

What do those tests measure, and who gives them? What rights do you have during the process? Knowing the ins and outs of the evaluation process helps you be prepared. It also allows you to prepare your child for the experience.

Understanding evaluation results and next steps

After your child is evaluated, the evaluation team at school will look over all the test results and decide if your child is eligible for special education services through an . If not, the team might recommend support through a .

But what if you don’t agree with the school’s results? What are your options? And what if your child had a private evaluation? How do you get the school to consider those results?

Key takeaways

  • Getting an evaluation is the best way to understand your child’s struggles, and how to help.

  • Both school and private evaluations involve testing.

  • Understanding evaluations empowers you to speak up for what your child needs.

About the author

About the author

The Understood Team is made up of passionate writers and editors. Many of them have kids who learn and think differently.

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Ellen Braaten, PhD is the director of LEAP at Massachusetts General Hospital.


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