Before a child receives special education or related services, he or she must have an evaluation.  The evaluation will help determine if a child needs special education.  A parent or member of the school staff may make the request for an evaluation.  The child’s parent must give consent in writing for the first evaluation. The evaluation will include information from parents, assessments (tests), medical concerns, and interviews with parents and school staff.  The evaluation must be:

  • Completed by a trained and knowledgeable persons;
  • In all areas related to a suspected disability;
  • More than just one test or assessment procedure;
  • In the child’s native language unless it is clearly not possible to do so;
  • Non-discriminatory based on race or culture.

Some questions parents may ask school staff about evaluation:

  1. Why do you want to evaluate my child?
  2. What do you think you will learn from the evaluation?
  3. What kinds of tests will be used?  What areas will be tested?
  4. Will the test discriminate against my child based on: Race? Culture? Disability? Language?
  5. How do you know that the tests do not discriminate?
  6. What will happen if my child is NOT evaluated?  Will he or she still get help or the problems that have been identified?
  7. When will I receive a written copy of the evaluation results?
  8. What can I do if I do not agree with the evaluation results?

If a child has difficulty controlling behaviors at school, these questions may also be helpful:

  1. Does my child need a “functional behavioral assessment?” Why or why not? A functional assessment looks at why a child has inappropriate behaviors.
  2. What positive interventions and supports are currently being used?  Have they helped to improve my child’s behavior? What else could we try?

If parents disagree with the school district’s evaluation results, they may:

  • Have someone outside the school system evaluate the child {this is called an Independent Education Evaluation (IEE);
  • Help select the person or persons who will do additional testing (they must meet certain criteria);
  • Have the outside evaluation completed at no cost to the parent*

*The school district or charter school must either have the child re-evaluated at no cost to the parents, or show at a hearing that its original evaluation was appropriate.

Adapted with permission from materials developed by Technical Assistance Alliance for Parent Centers at PACER Center

8161 Normandale Blvd. l Minneapolis, MN 55437-1044 l