At a glance
It helps to talk with your child’s school before scheduling a private evaluation.
Schools have certain standards they look for in evaluations.
Even if you’ve already had a private evaluation, you can work with the school on using the results.
Whether or not the school wants to do an evaluation for special education, maybe you’d like to pay to have a private evaluation. If so, you might have a concern: Will the school use the private evaluation results to determine whether your child is eligible for an or a ?
Many parents assume that bringing an outside evaluation to the school is enough to get services in place. But that’s not always the case.
Learn how you can work with the school to use outside evaluation results.
Working with the school before a private evaluation
It may save you frustration — and money — to work with the school before you even set up a private evaluation. Knowing more about a school’s obligations and what it needs from an outside evaluation is the best place to start.
The (IDEA) states that an outside evaluation “must be considered” by the school district. But that’s only the case if the evaluation “meets [the school’s] criteria.”
A school evaluation or an (IEE) at public expense automatically meets the criteria. A private evaluation may not. That’s because the school doesn’t have control over which type of testing to have done — you do. You can choose the person who does the testing, as well.
IDEA only says schools must consider the recommendations and results. It doesn’t say they have to accept them. However, a school is much more likely to accept the results of testing that meets their standards.
That’s why it’s important to find out in advance what those standards are. Many schools also keep a list of approved evaluators that meet their standards, though you don’t necessarily have to use someone on that list.
Talk to your child’s IEP team or, if your child doesn’t have an IEP, find out who’s responsible for special education at the school. That could be a principal, an assistant principal, or a case manager. Let them know you’re thinking of scheduling a private evaluation for your child. Explain you’d like it to be used as a tool to support the goals and services and supports on your child’s IEP or 504 plan.
Find out what information they’ll need in the report in order to consider and use the results. You’ll want to ask these three questions:
- How do the testing results need to be reported?
- What data or scoring charts will the school need to see?
- What types of tests does the school consider valid for the issue being explored?
It’s important to share these specifics with the evaluator before they meet with your child. Let the evaluator know you’re working with the school to make sure this evaluation meets their needs and your child’s needs.
Working with the school after a private evaluation
If you’ve already had the testing done, it doesn’t mean the results can’t be considered. Schedule a time to go over the report with your child’s IEP team or other school staff.
If the school says the private evaluation doesn’t meet its standards, talk about what would make it usable. Ask what’s useful in the report, and what might be missing.
For example, some evaluation reports have only an explanation of the results and what they mean. There may be more information available that just isn’t included in the report. If the school wants more detail or information, the private evaluator may be able to write a new report with that included.
Keep in mind that even if you have a private evaluation, you can still also request a school evaluation. In fact, some schools may insist on doing their own full evaluation. They may need to use a particular evaluation process.
If you do make an evaluation request, make sure to explain that you’re asking for the school to evaluate areas that weren’t previously looked at. The goal is to have a full picture of your child’s skills.
Understanding the private evaluation process
A school must consider an outside evaluation, but only if it meets the school’s criteria.
If you know the criteria in advance, you can share it with the private evaluator.
Schools don’t have to accept private evaluation results or recommendations.
About the author
About the author
Amanda Morin is the author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education” and the former director of thought leadership at Understood. As an expert and writer, she helped build Understood from its earliest days.