After carefully reviewing your child’s homework assignments and test grades, you notice that he or she just isn’t grasping some of the concepts in reading, writing or math. There seems to be little or no progress and you’ve been up at night worrying about your child falling behind. This might be a good time to request a psychoeducational evaluation.
A psychoeducational evaluation or assessment provides lots of information about your child’s academic strengths and weaknesses. It detects if there are any learning disabilities or other attentional or processing issues occurring.
Schools have a responsibility to find out if their students have learning disabilities from birth to age 21, under a federal mandate called Child Find. A school that suspects that a student has a disability must evaluate the child at no cost to the parents. If testing reveals a disability, the law requires the school to provide special education and related services.
School Testing vs. Private Practice
Testing completed by school districts can identify challenges such as ADHD, Autism, dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, and other learning problems in reading, speech, language, and math. The result is a designation into an educational category that best describes the child’s challenges. However, the evaluations are not intended to be diagnostic. This means that the information provided is meant to identify challenges and not give a clinical diagnoses. A diagnosis is generally made by a clinical psychologist or other healthcare or educational provider by completing a thorough psychoeducational evaluation in a private practice or healthcare setting. This may be something to consider as it may be important for you to know a child’s diagnosis for treatment purposes.
If your school does not recognize that your child needs an evaluation, you can appeal this decision. You can also then request a private evaluation with someone outside the school.
Questions to Ask
If you choose your own evaluator, it’s important to interview them first to understand their qualifications. Parents should ask if they are licensed or certified and if they specialize in certain disabilities. You’ll also want to learn if they coordinate with schools and if you will get a written report.
Additionally, if you will be paying out of pocket or using your healthcare insurance, ask what their policies are. You’ll may want to know if they provide superbills or reimbursement sheets. Most insurance companies will not reimburse a parent if the clinician does not make a qualifying diagnosis. So, you’ll want to know if the provider is qualified to make diagnoses, such as ADHD or language disorders.
Many evaluators are willing to attend school meetings with you and many are not. The findings of your child’s evaluation may qualify him or her for a 504 or Individualized Educational Program (IEP). Therefore, it’s important that your evaluator is comfortable discussing their findings to the team to be able to support you in the school meting.
If your child doesn’t qualify for special education services, you can hire a private tutor, so your child doesn’t fall behind. If there’s still little or no progress, it’s completely acceptable to request a re-evaluation at a later date.