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Evaluation basics

Different Terms You May Hear for Evaluations

By Andrew M.I. Lee

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If you think your child might have a learning or attention issue, you might be considering an evaluation. There are many kinds of evaluations. There are many terms for them, too. And no matter where you are in the evaluation process, the terminology can be confusing.

Take a look at different evaluation terms you may hear, and how they relate to one another.

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Different Terms You May Hear for Evaluations
An evaluation is a process that can help you better understand your child’s challenges, strengths and needs. It can identify if your child has learning or attention issues that cause him to struggle in school. And the results of an evaluation can guide what supports and services your child needs. Learn more about different evaluation terms you may hear.
Public School Evaluations: An evaluation by a public school district of a child’s needs, investigating the possibility of a disability. It can lead to the creation of an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or a 504 plan with school services for the child. The official term for this evaluation is a comprehensive multidisciplinary evaluation. It may also be referred to as: Comprehensive or full evaluation, IEP evaluation, School evaluation, or Team evaluation.
Private Evaluations: An evaluation of a child’s needs by an outside specialist who isn’t working within the public school district. Keep in mind that while schools must consider the results of a private evaluation, having one doesn’t guarantee an IEP for your child.
Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE): A kind of private evaluation. It refers to when the public school district is evaluating a child, and for some reason an outside evaluation is needed. Sometimes the school pays for the IEE.
The evaluations listed below may occur as part of a public school or private evaluation.
Behavior and Learning
Psychological Evaluation: Focuses on a child’s emotions, behavior and social skills.
Psychoeducational Evaluation: Focuses on a child’s classroom and educational needs. Involves basic cognitive testing in areas like IQ and learning issues, with a look at academic performance.
Neuropsychological Evaluation: Focuses on how a child’s brain functions, and how that impacts behavior and learning. Involves a wide range of cognitive testing on learning issues, plus behavioral testing and a look at academics. May go deeper than a psychoeducational evaluation.
Cognitive Testing: Focuses on basic cognitive testing in areas like IQ and learning issues.
Educational Evaluation: Focuses on academics—how a child performs in school-related skills, based on his age or grade.
Related Evaluations
Speech and Language Evaluation: Focuses on a child’s spoken language, as well as verbal and nonverbal communication skills.
Social History Evaluation: Focuses on how a child’s family history, environment and culture may influence his behavior and learning.
Occupational Therapy Evaluation: Focuses on a child’s motor skills, self-regulation, and visual and sensory processing.
Physical Therapy Evaluation: Focuses on a child’s gross motor skills, like mobility, strength, balance and coordination.
Medical or Psychiatric Evaluation: Focuses on diagnosing and treating a child’s mental health issues.
Keep in mind that these evaluation terms aren’t always used consistently by schools or private evaluators. The names can vary by your location, and may be influenced by state law and insurance requirements.


Graphic of: Different Terms You May Hear for Evaluations
Graphic of: Different Terms You May Hear for Evaluations

About the Author

Portrait of Andrew Lee

Andrew M.I. Lee is an editor and former attorney who strives to help people understand complex legal, education and parenting issues.

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Portrait of Bob Cunningham

Bob Cunningham, Ed.M., serves as advisor-in-residence on learning and attention issues for Understood.

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