Private evaluations: What you need to know

By Amanda Morin

At a glance

  • A private evaluation is an evaluation by a professional not working for your child’s school.

  • You control the type of testing that happens in a private evaluation.

  • In some cases, a school will agree to pay for — or be required to pay for — private testing.

An evaluation can help you learn more about your child’s needs. When the evaluation takes place outside of school, it’s called an “outside” or “private” evaluation.

Sometimes a school will pay for a private evaluation. That’s when you’ll hear the term , or IEE. Knowing about private evaluations and IEEs can help you make good choices about your child’s education.

Private evaluation

A private evaluation is an evaluation by a professional who does not work for your child’s school.

As a parent, you have complete control over a private evaluation. You can choose which type of testing to have done. You can also choose the person who does the testing. The evaluation can be comprehensive or just focused on a single issue.

You can have a private evaluation done at any time. The school doesn’t have to agree that it’s necessary. And the testing doesn’t automatically become part of your child’s school record. You don’t even have to tell the school.

If you decide to share the results, the school must consider them. But the school doesn’t have to agree with its results or follow its recommendations.

It’s also important to know that a private evaluation can be very expensive, sometimes thousands of dollars.

Independent educational evaluation (IEE)

An IEE is a kind of private evaluation. The term comes from the (IDEA). Families usually pay for an IEE or private testing. But sometimes the school may agree to pay in cases where an outside evaluation is clearly needed, including:

  • When the school doesn’t have the staff needed to do the testing that your child needs
  • When the school’s evaluation team thinks outside testing is needed

Sometimes schools are forced to pay for an IEE. If you don’t agree with the results of a school’s evaluation, you have the right to ask for what’s called an IEE at public expense.

Professionals who administer testing

Different types of professionals are qualified to do a private evaluation. Some can do a wide range of tests. Others specialize and are certified only in certain areas.

Professionals who can help include:

  • Clinical psychologists (for psychological and educational testing)
  • Educational psychologists (for educational testing)
  • Neuropsychologists (for brain processing and functioning testing)

Types of testing

A private evaluation for learning and thinking differences involves various types of tests. It also includes a review of your child’s history and a conversation with and observation of your child. It can take a few testing sessions to finish and usually involves two main things:

  • Intelligence and achievement testing, including information processing, memory, and reasoning
  • Testing in other areas of concern, such as speech and physical skills

What to expect after testing

After your child has been tested, the professional will gather and analyze all the information. You’ll sit down together to talk about the results and get your questions answered.

You’ll get a written report, too. This will recap all the information gathered and reviewed. It will also list the tests used, show your child’s results, and provide more information about your child’s specific issues. A report should include a statement about how those issues affect your child and recommendations of things that can be done to help.

Once you have the report, you can decide if you want to share the results with the school. The report can provide information to help you and the school find ways to support your child’s learning.

Learn key terms to help you understand what the evaluation results mean.

Learn more

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. And explore these other resources:

Key takeaways

  • You can choose a private evaluator who specializes in your child’s needs.

  • You don’t have to share the results of a private evaluation with the school.

  • You can use the evaluator’s recommendations to help find ways to support your child’s learning.

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    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. 

    Reviewed by

    Reviewed by

    Kylah Torre is an instructor in the department of special education at Hunter College.