When to Ask for an Evaluation

When to Ask for an Evaluation

As a teacher, I can't tell you how frustrating it is to suspect a child has a learning disability just to have the school refuse to test them. Fixing this issue has become a passion for me. But the question remains for many parents, 'when should I ask for my child to be evaluated?'

Ask yourself a few questions: (although you should note that even if you answer no to all of these questions and still suspect a disability, it is worth a conversation with the school. )

  1. Is my child struggling academically? -- this does not mean failing; failing is relative. My child's school has a system in place to ensure students do NOT fail by never giving a grade lower than 50%.
  2. Is my child struggling socially?
  3. Is my child struggling with behavior problems at home or school?

If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, I would draft a letter to your child's school requesting testing. The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) mandates identifying and evaluating all children with disabilities.

What if my child's disability isn't as bad as Joey's next door? -- the severity of the disability does not matter when it comes to identification.

What if my child is passing all of his classes? Again, this does not matter.

If my child is passing, why does it matter? -- Only a parent can answer this question. But the state is required to provide all children with a Free and Appropriate Education. If a child has a learning disability and is not learning to his potential, he should be provided with an education that is "designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living..." (20 U.S.C. 1400(d))

The most common response from schools hedging on testing students:

"Your child has been included in an intervention program (or RTI - Response to Intervention). Let's see how they respond to the intervention and go from there. Then, we can revisit this next semester."

My response to the comment would be:

According to the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, "a Response to Intervention (RTI) Process can not be used to delay-deny an evaluation for eligibility under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)." I understand that parents have the right to request an evaluation for their child anytime during the RTI process; I am seeking that evaluation now.

If you plan to request testing and would like a checklist of things to include in your letter to the school, click the button below. I'm also available to help you draft a letter and guide you through the process of eligibility and creation of a productive IEP, just email me at lisa@advocating4faireducation.com.