Why have an evaluation?
A full and individual educational evaluation serves many
Identification. It can
identify children who have delays or learning problems
and may need special education and related services as
Eligibility. It can
determine whether your child is a child with a
disability and need special education and related
Planning an Individualized
Education Program (IEP). It provides information
that can help the parent and the school develop an
appropriate IEP for the child.
It can help determine what strategies may be most
effective in helping the child learn.
Measuring progress. It
establishes a baseline for measuring the child’s
educational progress. The evaluation process
establishes a foundation for developing an appropriate
What measures are used to evaluate a child?
No single test may be used as the sole measure for
determining whether a child has a disability or for
determining an appropriate educational program for your
child. Both formal and informal tests and other
evaluation measures are important in determining the
special education and related services your child needs.
Testing measures a child’s ability or performance by
scoring the child’s responses to a set of questions or
tasks. It provides a snapshot of a child and the child’s
performance on a particular day. Formal test data is
useful in predicting how well a child might be expected
to perform in school. It also provides information about
unique learning needs.
Other measures of a child’s growth and development, such
as observation or interviews with parents and others who
know the child, provide vital information on how the
child functions in different settings and circumstances.
Evaluation also includes other types of information such
comparisons of the child’s progress to typical
expectations of child development
observations of how the child functions in school,
at home, or in the community
interviews with parents and school staff
As a parent, you have a wealth of information about the
development and needs of your child. When combined with
the results of tests and other evaluation materials,
this information can be used to make decisions about
your child’s appropriate educational program.
What types of tests are available?
There are many types of tests that are used to measure
student progress. Here are a few important terms parents
may need to know.
Group achievement tests may not be used to determine
eligibility for special services. They furnish
information about how a child performs in relation to
others of the same age or grade level, but they do not
identify an individual student’s pattern of strengths
Tests administered individually to your child can
clarify the special education and related services your
child needs to progress in school.
Curriculum-based assessments (CBAs) or curriculum- based
These types of tests are developed by school staff to
examine the progress a child has made in learning the
specific materials the teacher has presented to the
class. They can be useful tools for teachers and parents
in determining whether learning is taking place, but
they must never be used to determine eligibility for
Standardized tests are rigorously developed by experts
to be used with large populations of students. The tests
are administered according to specific standards.
Standardized tests can evaluate what a child has already
learned (achievement), or predict what a child may be
capable of doing in the future (aptitude).
Norm-referenced tests are standardized tests that
compare a child’s performance to that of peers. They can
tell you where your child stands in relation to other
children of the same age or grade.
Criterion-referenced tests. These tests
measure what the child is able to do or the specific
skills a child has mastered. Criterion-referenced tests
do not assess a child’s standing in a group but the
child’s performance measured against standard criteria.
They may compare a child’s present performance with past
performance as a way of measuring progress
What is functional assessment?
While tests are an important part of a full and
individual evaluation, sometimes what children can do or
need to learn is not reflected in their scores. A
functional assessment looks at how a child actually
functions at home, at school, and in the neighborhood.
Functional assessment for some students includes looking
at reading, writing, and math skills. For others,
evaluating whether the student is able to ride the city
bus, dress independently, or handle money might be more
What is functional behavioral assessment?
When a child has behavior
problems that do not respond to standard
interventions, a functional behavioral assessment can
provide additional information to help the team plan
more effective interventions A clear description of
the problem behavior.
Observations of the child at
different times and in different settings. These
observations should record (1) what was happening in
the environment before the behavior occurred, (2) what
the actual behavior was, and (3) what the student
achieved as a result of the behavior.
interventions, strategies, and supports to address
that behavior, and to teach behavior skills.
Once the functional behavior assessment has been
completed, the results may be used to write a behavior
intervention plan or to develop behavior goals for the
individualized education program.
How are evaluation results helpful
After your child’s evaluation is complete, you’ll meet
with a group of qualified professionals to discuss the
results and determine whether your child has a
disability under IDEA. The school must provide you with
a copy of the evaluation report and a written
determination of eligibility.
If the team determines, based on the evaluation results,
that your child is eligible for special education and
related services, the next step is to develop an IEP to
meet your child’s needs.
The goals and objectives the IEP team develops relate
directly to the strengths and needs that were identified
It’s important for you to understand the results of your
child’s evaluation before beginning to develop an IEP.
Parents should ask to have the evaluation results
explained to them in plain language by a qualified
You will want to request the evaluation summary report
before meeting with other members of the IEP team to
develop the IEP. Reviewing the results in a comfortable
environment before developing the IEP can reduce stress
for parents and provide time to consider whether the
results fit their own observations and experiences with
When are students reevaluated?
Students receiving special education services must be
reevaluated if conditions warrant a reevaluation, or if
the child’s parents or teacher requests a reevaluation.
. The results are used to monitor the child’s progress
in meeting the goals and objectives in his or her IEP
The IEP team then decides if any additional data is
needed to determine if the child continues to have a
disability and continues to need special education and