Evaluation basics

Is a Functional Assessment the Same Thing as a Formal Evaluation?

By Barbara Hubert

Is a functional assessment the same thing as a formal evaluation?

Barbara Hubert

Adjunct Instructor, Hunter College

No, it is not. A functional assessment has a much narrower focus than a formal evaluation.

The purpose of a functional assessment is to help you and your child’s teachers understand why your child is seeking negative attention or behaving in a disruptive or puzzling way.

The purpose of a formal evaluation is to determine whether your child has a disability that qualifies for special education and related services. An evaluation uses tests to measure things like academic skills, language skills and emotional status.

A functional assessment may be part of the evaluation process, but it isn’t automatically included. The school will only include it in the evaluation if your child’s behavior is a concern.

Learning more about what functional assessments are and how they work can help you use them to get to the root of your child’s behavior. Then the next step is to look for positive ways to change that behavior.

About the Author

Portrait of Barbara Hubert

Barbara Hubert

Barbara Hubert, M.S.Ed., is an adjunct instructor at Hunter College, where she teaches graduate students how to create supportive, accessible and inclusive classrooms.

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