You’ve decided to have your child evaluated. The next question is: How? You can request that the school do the testing, or you can hire a private evaluator. Each option has benefits and drawbacks. Which one is best depends on your and your child’s needs and preferences. Here are the pros and cons of each.
|Private evaluation||School evaluation|
Pros: You choose the evaluator. One person does all the testing, so your child doesn’t have to adjust to different people. The evaluator isn’t with the school, so they may be more objective. The evaluator can make recommendations without factoring in the school’s concerns.
Cons: The evaluator may not be able to observe your child in school or review records.
Pros: At least two professionals work together to look at your child from different angles. They can easily observe your child and review records.
Cons: The evaluators are part of the school’s team. You can’t choose them. Their recommendations may be shaped by school concerns, like resources.
Pros: You don’t need the school to agree to testing. You also don’t have to share the results.
Cons: There’s no set time frame. You might wait months to get your child tested and get results. You also have to coordinate any additional testing by other specialists.
Pros: There’s a time frame schools have to stick to. So testing and results may be quicker. The school coordinates testing and communication with families.
Cons: The school has to agree to the evaluation. You might have to wait to get the approval.
Pros: The testing can focus only on the area of concern. This can make the process go faster.
Cons: Testing can be expensive and may not be covered by insurance. Your child’s school isn’t required to follow the recommendations.
Pros: Testing is free, and it looks at all areas of development. This can reveal strengths and challenges you hadn’t considered.
Cons: The results will be part of your child’s confidential school records and can be seen by anyone who has the right to look at those records.
Pros: Your child will get undivided attention in a setting that’s private and confidential.
Cons: Your child will be in an unfamiliar environment.
Pros: Your child will be in a familiar setting.
Cons: Your child may feel embarrassed about being tested at school.
Watch as an expert talks about the pros and cons of public and private evaluations.
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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.
Kylah Torre is an instructor in the department of special education at Hunter College.