What to Expect During the Evaluation?

What to Expect During the Evaluation?

Most of my readers are already in the throws of an IEP, so this process is behind them. However, if you are reading this and that describes you, please leave your experience below for others to read and learn from. Two of my three children have been evaluated. My youngest has been through 6 evaluations (2 through the school and four private.) Our experiences have been vastly different, but there are some constants, so I will speak to those. But please know no two experiences are the same.

The first thing every eval has started with is an interview about family history and my child's milestones and history. It is always interesting to see what different evaluators fixate on. Still, all in all, this is a very cathartic part of the eval process for me because I get to process Eli's journey.

Most school evaluations will consist of classroom observations and teacher input. I have had one or two private evals ask teachers to fill out a questionnaire, but in general, the information the private practitioner collects is from the family.

In my experience, this is one big difference between the two evaluations. I have always felt that the school evaluation summaries tend to lean heavier into the teacher input and "school position." On the other hand, the independent evaluations tend to (probably because little school data is collected) lean toward the "family position." Theoretically, both positions should lean toward data and evidence and land near an actual representation of the child, but that is not always the case. And when the data is off, there can be an us vs. them feeling at the IEP table.

Because of these different leanings, the parent statement at the IEP is vital. I will write another blog about creating a parent statement, but ensuring your voice is heard and represented in all documentation is essential.

After this first step, the examiner will determine which tests to use. There is generally a neuropsychological evaluation conducted. This assessment will test the child's intelligence quotient, language ability, attention, memory, problem-solving and perceptual skills, regulation, and ability to plan.

They will also likely conduct an educational achievement assessment. This will assess your child's reading, writing, and math abilities in relation to their age or grade.

Depending on their needs, they may also conduct an occupational therapy assessment, speech and language assessment, emotional and social function assessment, functional behavior assessment, and/or an attention and processing assessment. If you know you will want one of these assessments when you request testing, you should outline that expectation from the beginning. Do not wait for the results to come back.

Often parents will ask how to prepare their child for the upcoming testing. And I say, don't make a big deal out of it unless they are older, and it would seem odd to be pulled out of class, and they will become stressed. My child is in and out of the classroom all the time. I treat testing day (school or private) like any other day. This is not an exam they need to pass; this is a window into their learning path. They will follow your lead if you make a big deal about it. The best and most accurate results are if your child is relaxed and behaves like they would on any other day.

However, a good way to ensure you get the most accurate results is to ensure your child is well-rested and has a good healthy breakfast. Hungry and tired children never perform to their ability level.

Another question often asked is, if my kid takes ADHD meds, should I medicate them? Talk to the examiner. All of the school assessors said yes. Most of our private assessors have asked us to bring him one day unmedicated and the other days medicated—either way, all of it is noted in their reports.

Every evaluation we have ever had ends with a "debrief" of sorts. For private evals, this is generally done almost immediately after the evaluation letting parents know the gist of the results and letting them know when to expect the final written report. It is typically within 60 days for school evaluations when the full report is complete.

So there you have it—a quick rundown of what to expect. Of course, reading and understanding the results is a whole other blog. But until then, if you need help with your testing results, please reach out, and we can look at them together.  lisa@advocating4faireducation.com