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  • Writer's pictureChristine Willing, M.Ed., NCSP,

3 Things to Know Before You Say Yes to A School Evaluation

Highlights from this blog

Testing does not mean your child will be singled out or put in a special class.

An evaluation provides vital information about how your child learns.

Agreeing to an evaluation does not mean that you agree to special education services.

So your school wants to evaluate your child for special education services. That can be scary to hear. But the most important thing is to remain calm.

You have a lot of options, and an evaluation does not mean your child will be singled out or put in a special class. The school has simply identified some areas of their learning or behavior that could benefit from intervention.

Even though agreeing to an evaluation may help your child academically, it can be a difficult decision for many parents to make. That’s why I want to walk you through everything you need to know before you say yes.

Understand What an Evaluation Is (And Isn’t)

Testing is a way to gather more information about how your child is performing

at school.

Here’s how it works: A team of school professionals will do a few activities with your child to determine if they require special education.

The test results will provide a lot of valuable information that you can't get in the classroom, such as cognitive abilities and IQ. By discovering how your child learns, you and the school will learn how to best support them.

But just because you agree to testing does not mean you agree to special education services. Even if your child qualifies for services, you can choose to deny them.

That’s why I recommend most parents accept an evaluation. There is no commitment, and you’ll be getting important insight into how your child thinks and learns.

Know Your Legal Rights

You and your child have several legal rights covered under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). Here are some of the most important ones:

· You have the right to ask for an evaluation of your child at any time.

· You have the right to refuse an evaluation.

· You have the right to a timely evaluation that is comprehensive and unbiased.

To learn more about the rights covered by IDEA, make sure to request your school’s procedural manual if you are not provided with one. Every school district has a procedural manual for special education which includes the testing process along with plenty of information about parent/guardian rights.

Reassure Your Child (and Yourself)

You may initially be concerned that your child will know something is wrong or be embarrassed about the testing. It’s best to talk to them beforehand to let them know what is happening. Tell your child that someone will be coming to their classroom to have them do some activities. Tell them to have fun and try their best. The information will be used to help their teachers better understand how they learn.

If you’re concerned about your child feeling nervous or “singled out,” rest assured, kids get pulled out of class all the time now and the testing is done in a private location.

The evaluators know how to present the test so that it is not intimidating. They may say something like, “today I am going to ask you to do some different activities for me. There is no pass or fail I just want to see what you know, we will play with blocks, and look at pictures and puzzles. I want you to try your best and let me know if you need any breaks.”

Most of the time the kids like the special attention and many of the testing items are actually a lot of fun!

Say Yes to the Test!

Now that you understand what an evaluation entails, you’re better prepared to make a decision that is right for your family and your child. If you decide to accept the evaluation (and I recommend that you do), you’ll get a rare glimpse into how your child think and learns. And it may do more than just help them out in school—it may help you understand them better.

For more great content about children’s mental health, in and out of school, sign up for our monthly newsletter. And if you’re looking for teletherapy in Virginia—request your appointment today.

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