Different terms you may hear for evaluations

Maybe you’ve decided to get an evaluation to better understand your child’s challenges, strengths, and needs. If so, you’ll start hearing a lot of different names for evaluations. How do you know which one you’re getting?

Here’s a breakdown of different terms people use for evaluations.

Public school evaluation

This is an evaluation of a child’s needs by a public school district. It can lead to the creation of an (IEP) or a with school services for the child. The official term for this evaluation is comprehensive multidisciplinary evaluation. It may also be called:

  • Comprehensive or full evaluation

  • IEP evaluation

  • School evaluation

  • Team evaluation

Private evaluation

A child may be evaluated by an outside specialist who doesn’t work within a public school district. Public schools must consider the results of this private evaluation. But having a private evaluation doesn’t guarantee that a child will get an IEP or services.

An independent educational evaluation (IEE) is a kind of private evaluation. Sometimes, when a public school district is evaluating a child, testing by an outside professional is needed. And in some cases, the school pays for it.

Any of the evaluations below can be part of a public school or private evaluation.

Behavior and learning

Psychological evaluation: Focuses on a child’s emotions, behavior, and social skills.

Psychoeducational evaluation: Focuses on a child’s classroom and education needs. It involves basic cognitive testing in areas like IQ and learning differences, with a look at academic performance, too.

  • Cognitive testing: Focuses on how a child thinks. It may use a variety of tests for IQ and learning differences.

  • Educational evaluation: Focuses on academics — how a child performs in school-related skills, based on age or grade.

Neuropsychological evaluation: Focuses on how a child’s brain functions, and how that impacts behavior and learning. It involves a wide range of cognitive testing on learning differences, plus behavioral testing and a look at academics. It may go deeper than a psychoeducational evaluation. 

Speech and language evaluation: Focuses on a child’s spoken language, as well as verbal and nonverbal communication skills.

Social history evaluation: Focuses on how a child’s family history, environment, and culture may impact behavior and learning.

Occupational therapy evaluation: Focuses on a child’s motor skills, self-regulation, and visual and sensory processing.

Physical therapy evaluation: Focuses on a child’s gross motor skills, like mobility, strength, balance, and coordination.

Medical or psychiatric evaluation: Focuses on diagnosing and treating a child’s mental health issues.

Keep in mind that these evaluation terms aren’t always used the same way by schools or private evaluators. The names can vary by where you live, your state’s laws, and insurance requirements.

Want to know more about evaluations? Read about what to expect during the evaluation process.


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