The law has specific requirements for how assessments must be done. You can read this portion of the law to help you decide if the school’s assessment was appropriate (see Sec. 300.304 – Evaluation procedures of the IDEA).
The assessment must:
- use more than one tool or strategy to assess each area of need;
- not use just one test or assessment;
- use researched and valid tools;
- look at functional, developmental, and academic skills;
- include information from the parent/caregiver;
- explain how the child will make progress in regular school work;
- state if the student qualifies as a ‘child with a disability’ per IDEA;
- determine their educational needs
Don’t be afraid to ask about the skills each assessor has to evaluate your child. What do they know about your child’s disabilities?
Must include recommendations
The “summary of findings” which is at the end of each report should have recommendations. These should state what your child needs in these areas:
- instruction type, amount, and setting
- related services
The school should work with the student and family to choose the best tools and strategies to evaluate each child.
How do I know if the assessment was good enough?
- Was the evaluation comprehensive?
- Were the legal requirements for assessment followed?
- Do you agree with the findings?
Related service providers
Related service providers such as physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists can help, too.
- They can do their own assessments.
- They can help make sure that your child’s accommodations are used correctly when other providers assess them (such as communication devices, visual aids, a quiet setting, or behavior strategies).
Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE)
If you disagree with the school district’s evaluation, you can request an independent educational evaluation (IEE) at the school district’s expense.
- If the assessment is not comprehensive, it is not valid.
- You may disagree with the conclusions or testing methods the evaluator used.
- Maybe the assessments were incomplete or wrong.
- This video from Your Special Education Rights does a great job of explaining this process.
CAUTION: Once you request an IEE, the school district has only two options:
FUND the independent assessments, or
If you ask for too many independent assessments, you may increase the chances of a due process filing against you to prove before an administrative hearing officer that the school’s assessments were sufficient.
If you ask for an independent evaluation, the school may provide you a list of independent evaluators. Know that you don’t have to choose from the school’s list; you can select the evaluator as long as they meet the same district requirements for evaluators. Ask for a copy of the district’s evaluator requirements in writing.
If the school district provides an IEE they can see the evaluation results even if you disagree with them. Think about that before deciding if you want to ask for an IEE or pay for a private evaluation.
If you can afford private assessments or insurance will cover them, you should have them done. It can be helpful to have outside evaluations to compare with the school district’s findings.
- The law requires that the school consider outside assessments (in fact, the school district is only required to consider their own assessments).
- This means that the IEP team must review and discuss them, but it is not mandatory that the district accept the findings or recommendations.
- However, these reports can still help provide a complete picture of your child’s needs and could lead to new or updated school district evaluations in some cases.
If you cannot afford a private evaluation, here are some suggestions:
Please take time to watch our webinars on the assessment process and review Seven Steps To Build Your Child’s IEP After Epilepsy Surgery. Our new transition guide also has a section on assessments.