By Jan Baumel, M.S.
Has the school asked for your permission to evaluate your child? Have you been considering a private evaluation? What should you think about before making a decision?
A high-quality evaluation provides you with a picture of how your child performs over time, in a variety of settings, with different people, and under different circumstances. Results give information to plan for instructional and behavioral needs. If strategies have been taught and modifications have been made to the program and your child still struggles with problems learning or producing in the classroom, then it may be time to have your child evaluated.
Qualified personnel, such as teachers, school psychologist, speech-language specialist, and others, may be involved, depending on the questions you, your child, and his teacher(s) have asked. A multidisciplinary team, professionals with different training and expertise, should be involved so that all areas of concern can be examined.
As a parent, you have key information. You know how your child acts at home and in the community. You see how he deals with homework. You can identify his strengths, preferences, and talents. You know about his early development, health, cultural and family expectations, and recent family changes that might be affecting him. You can share reports from other professionals, such as his doctor, tutor, coach, or counselor.
Your child will be asked to talk about problems in school, as much as his age and personal insights will let him. He'll be expected to cooperate with testing, so it's important for you to prepare him ahead of time. Discuss why he's being evaluated and tell him something about the process and what he'll be expected to do.
Evaluation is a process of collecting information about your child. A thorough evaluation contains information from a number of sources.
This information presents a picture of your child over time.
You, your child, and other school staff members will provide information to the evaluators.
The professionals will gain information about your child firsthand.
Tests will be given individually to get a true and complete picture of your child's strengths and needs.
From the evaluation, you should have a better understanding of your child as a learner and a person. The results can help you, your child, and the teacher see his unique strengths and needs, compare them to normal development, and set realistic expectations. They should lead to specific recommendations that will enhance his learning, both at school and at home. In some cases, they may be used to determine if your child needs special education services. Ideally, results will be used to help your child understand and accept his strengths and needs as a learner and communicate these to others.
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