Deciding on an evaluation: 5 common questions

By Gail Belsky

Expert reviewed by Ellen Braaten, PhD

Having your child evaluated for special education services can be a tough decision. You may worry about your child being labeled. You might also question if your child really needs to be tested. The more information you have, the easier it is to make an informed decision. 

Here are some common questions parents have when they’re considering an evaluation for their child. 

How will an evaluation help my child?

If your child is struggling in school, an evaluation is the first step toward getting special education supports and services. But testing doesn’t only show your child’s challenges. It can give you a better understanding of your child’s strengths, too. Having this information can help the school — and you — find strategies that work.

Are evaluations stressful for kids?

You might be concerned about what your child will have to go through with an evaluation and whether it will be stressful. Some kids do get nervous. But the tests used in evaluations aren’t like regular tests. Many of them involve activities like doing puzzles and naming pictures. Also, if a child is taking many tests, the evaluation may be spread out over a few days.

Is now the right time for an evaluation?

It can be hard to know when to have your child evaluated. You may wonder if your child will outgrow difficulties, or if they’re serious enough for you to take action. But just being concerned may be reason enough to look into it. Think about what made you consider having your child evaluated in the first place.

Will my child be labeled for getting services?

You might wonder what an evaluation could mean for your child socially. Will it lead to your child being labeled? Will other kids treat your child differently? Will your child be teased or bullied? It’s also common to worry about what an evaluation means for your child’s future.

What about a private evaluation?

If you’re thinking about a private evaluation, you may have a different set of questions or concerns. Private evaluations are done by a professional outside of school, and they can be expensive. This professional may use many of the same tests a school would use. But private evaluations are often more in-depth.

Learn more about the evaluation process from the Understood Explains Season 1 podcast.

About the author

About the author

Gail Belsky is executive editor at Understood. She has written and edited for major media outlets, specializing in parenting, health, and career content.

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Ellen Braaten, PhD is a child psychologist, professor, and founding director of the Learning and Emotional Assessment Program (LEAP) at Massachusetts General Hospital.


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