At a glance
The school evaluation team includes classroom teachers and special education teachers.
The process for private evaluations is different from the one for school evaluations.
There are many types of tests that look at a wide range of skills.
Need a refresher on evaluation basics? Or maybe you’re still deciding whether your child needs an evaluation or you haven’t yet requested one. If so, go back to a previous step in our evaluation journey:
Once you request an evaluation, how can you prepare yourself and your child for the evaluation itself? There’s a lot to know about the evaluation process, from who will do the testing to the tests themselves.
If your child is having a private evaluation, the process and some of the terms you hear will be different. But the tests used in both types of evaluations are mostly the same.
This guide can help you understand the evaluation process and how to help your child prepare for the experience.
The school evaluation process
Understanding the process helps you and your child be prepared for an evaluation. Both of you can feel more relaxed and confident knowing what to expect. If your child is having more than one type of evaluation, do your best to get familiar with how each evaluation will work.
- Get basic information on how the school evaluation process works.
- Is your child having a functional assessment? Learn about this type of evaluation.
- If your young child is having an early intervention evaluation, find out how that process works.
Some families wonder if there’s a difference between evaluations for and . Find out.
The evaluation team
The school psychologist might be the person who does the actual testing. But there will be others working as a team throughout your child’s evaluation process. That team might include a classroom teacher and a special education teacher, for example. One important player on the team, however, is you.
- Learn about who’s on the school evaluation team.
- If your child is having an early intervention evaluation, find out who might be on that team.
Preparing for a private evaluation
When your child is evaluated by an outside professional for ADHD or learning differences, you choose who that person will be. Often, it’s a child psychologist or neuropsychologist. Whoever you hire to evaluate your child, be sure to ask what you can expect from the process.
- Not sure how to choose a private evaluator? Here are some things to consider.
- Read about neuropsychological evaluations, which are different from educational evaluations.
- Learn more about the private evaluation process, and independent educational evaluations (IEEs).
Maybe your child is being evaluated specifically for . If so, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Find out what goes into a proper ADHD evaluation.
- Learn about types of professionals who diagnose and work with kids with ADHD.
And if you or your young adult child is being evaluated, get details on ADHD evaluations for adults or dyslexia evaluations for adults.
Types of tests
What does the actual testing involve? There are many types of tests that look for strengths and challenges in different areas. Full evaluations should look at all of those areas, not just the ones where your child seems to be struggling.
For example, you and the school may suspect your child has . But the evaluation should look at more than just reading skills. A full evaluation would include tests that look at your child’s math skills, writing skills, and other aspects of learning.
Learn about the following types of tests.
Preparing your child for the evaluation
Even when you know what happens in an evaluation, you may wonder how to prepare your child. Should your child study for the testing? What’s the best way to talk together about your child’s strengths and challenges? How can you manage your child’s worries?
There are lots of things you can do to make your child feel more at ease about being evaluated.
- Get tips for responding to your child’s concerns about being evaluated.
- Learn the best way to talk to your child about getting evaluated.
- Get advice on what to say if your child says, “I’m dumb.”
Finally, find out how to show empathy to your child. Kids are often nervous about getting evaluated. Showing kids that you understand and respect their concerns can motivate them and build their confidence.
Your rights in the evaluation process
Your immediate focus might be on the testing and what lies ahead for your child. But it’s also good to be familiar with the laws that protect you (and your child) during the evaluation process.
- Learn all about your evaluation rights.
- Find out what happens if your family transfers in the middle of your child’s evaluation.
- If your child gets in trouble at school and doesn’t yet have an IEP or a 504 plan, here are your rights.
You may also want to become familiar with special education law, or the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Read how kids qualify under IDEA.
It will likely take weeks to get the results of your child’s evaluation. But you don’t need to wait to discuss with the school any questions or concerns. You can also talk with your child’s teacher about classroom strategies that might help.
You can even use this downtime to have some fun together. Being an advocate for your child is important. But it’s just as important to take a break from school struggles and spend time together.
- Look into supports your child’s teacher can offer while you wait for evaluation results.
- Discover how to give praise that builds self-esteem.
- Read about how to keep your child motivated.
Here’s the next step in your evaluation journey:
Your child has legal protection during the evaluation process.
A full evaluation should look at all of your child’s skills.
Talking to your child about what to expect helps make the process easier for both of you.
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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.
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.