At a glance
To request a school evaluation for your child, you have to follow a simple but formal process.
You have to write a letter of request and give your consent for an evaluation.
The process for getting a private evaluation is different from a free school evaluation.
Need a refresher on evaluation basics? Or maybe you’re still deciding whether your child needs an evaluation. If so, go back to previous steps in our evaluation journey:
Once you’ve made the decision to have your child evaluated, you have to get the process rolling. It starts with a formal request letter from you. The process is fairly simple, even though it’s formal. And there are steps you can take ahead of time to get prepared.
This guide provides the information you need to make your request and follow up on it to make sure the process goes smoothly.
How to request a school evaluation
The request process begins with a formal letter that you write to the school. It’s not complicated, but there are certain things that definitely have to be in the letter. Once you deliver that letter, it’s important to follow up with the school to make sure your request is moving forward.
If your child is under age 3, get information on how to request an early intervention evaluation.
If your child goes to private school, find out if private schools have to provide free school evaluations, how the request process works, and who pays that bill.
How to request a private evaluation
No matter what type of school your child goes to, you have the option for a private evaluation instead of a free school evaluation. The process for getting one is very different from getting one at school, though. Instead of making a request, you have to find and hire a professional to do the testing. These evaluations can be expensive. But you may be able to get them for free or at a low cost.
Follow these steps to request a private evaluation for your child.
Waiting for the evaluation
Once you give your consent for an evaluation, special education law requires that the school complete your child’s evaluation within 60 days. (Some states use calendar days, while others use school or business days.)
In the meantime, there are things you can do to get support for your child. You can ask your child’s teacher to give extra support in the classroom. You can also ask about getting your child targeted support through response to intervention (RTI).
What to do if your evaluation request is denied
Sometimes schools deny a request for an evaluation. There are things you can do if that happens. One option is to request an independent educational evaluation (IEE). This is an evaluation done by an outside professional, but paid for by the school.
Follow these steps to take if your evaluation request is denied. You can also:
- Learn about options for resolving a disagreement with the school.
- Get help and information from the Parent Training and Information Center (PTI) in your area.
Requesting an evaluation is the first step toward getting your child help at school. Testing will let you understand why your child struggles, and what accommodations may be helpful. Testing will also reveal your child’s strengths.
It might have taken you awhile to decide to request an evaluation. Once you start the evaluation process, though, things usually move pretty quickly.
Here are the next steps in your evaluation journey:
Once you request an evaluation, the school has a limited amount of time to complete it.
Schools sometimes deny evaluation requests, but there are steps you can take if that happens.
While you wait, your child’s teacher might provide informal supports.
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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.