Evaluation basics

7 Steps to Take Before Requesting a Formal Evaluation

By Amanda Morin

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If you’re concerned about your child’s performance in school, you might be considering having him evaluated. You have the right to request a formal evaluation for special education services at any time. But even before you request an evaluation, there are some things you can do to make the process smoother.


Keep track of how your child is doing.

Observe your child and take notes on any patterns you’re noticing. Keep homework samples that support your concerns about the way your child learns in school.


Talk to your child’s teacher.

Share your notes with your child’s teacher. Have a conversation about what she’s seeing from your child in the classroom.


Ask about response to intervention (RTI).

Some schools use RTI to provide extra help for struggling learners. Ask the teacher if it’s being used. If it is, find out if your child is involved and how it’s going.


Ask about other pre-referral services.

Some schools have a “student assistance team” in place. These are professionals who recommend specific techniques to get struggling students on track.


Create a binder for your child’s records.

Organize a three-ring binder to keep track of report cards, notes, test scores, important emails from the teacher and other information about your child.


Include notes on your child’s progress.

Add your own notes to the binder. For example, you might take notes on how long it took your child to complete a particular homework assignment. This can help you monitor your child’s progress.


Know your rights.

You have the right to request a free formal evaluation for your child. Once you make a request, other legal requirements are set into motion for the school. Understanding your and your child’ rights will help you advocate for your child.

About the Author

Portrait of Amanda Morin

Amanda Morin is a parent advocate, a former teacher and the author of The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.

Reviewed by

Portrait of Kristen Hodnett

Kristen L. Hodnett, M.S.Ed., is a clinical professor in the department of special education at Hunter College in New York City.

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