I'm Concerned About a Student - Who Should Do the Testing
As a teacher, you may have concerns about the progress of some of your students. While many of them are getting the concepts easily - you may have a handful who aren't. It can be difficult to determine when you should take things to the next level.
If you're wondering when it might make sense to refer, check out our 8 Key Signs that it May Be Time to Refer for Testing!
So, once you've decided you want to make the referral you may be wondering who should do the evaluation. You typically have two options.
1. Refer to Your School's Evaluation Team
All public schools are required to have a team available to complete Special Education (IEP) Eligibility Testing. Parents can request testing through your school's team at any time (regardless of where the student is in the Response to Intervention (RtI) process). If the parent is not going to make the request you can follow your school's process for getting the student entered into the RtI or Multi-Tier System of Support (MTSS) process.
- This evaluation comes at no-cost to families and can provide a great deal of data.
- If a child scores low enough in certain areas they would be able to get pull-out support from your school's special education team during the school day.
- If a child doesn't score low enough, they won't qualify for services and the conversation will be over. This does not mean that the child doesn't have a learning disability or wouldn't benefit from accommodations and modifications, it simply means he or she didn't score low enough to qualify from the school's perspective.
- This evaluation doesn't typically help parents to understand the causes of the student's learning struggle or what may come up in the future. It's simply a snapshot of the child's current ability on a set of standardized assessments.
- Sometimes the testing provided is quite limited and doesn't dig into all the potential areas of need.
2. Refer to a Local Psychologist or Diagnostician
Sometimes it is advantageous to refer a family to get testing completed outside of the school system. There are a number of reasons why you may want to consider going this route although ideally you would know your school's policy (this can get political but we want to encourage you to remember that you went into this field to help kids to be as successful as possible) as well as a list of local providers who you can trust to do good work.
- This evaluation is generally far more comprehensive and gives families an idea of what's causing the learning struggle, how to support the child at home, and the future trajectory for the child. Private evaluations will usually spend more time talking with the family about the scores, what they mean, and what can be done from a family-systems approach.
- A private evaluation is typically seen as more impartial than a school evaluation and goes beyond just simple qualification for services. So if you are worried that a student isn't going to score low enough to qualify a child for services but have a feeling something deeper is going on, this is a great way to go.
- Private evaluations can help speed up the IEP process as the data is often considered or incorporated into the school's testing.
- Private evaluations should have a list of recommendations on what type of intervention would be the best fit as well as which accommodations and modifications would be warranted based on the test scores.
- These assessments can be extremely costly or can have long wait lists.
- These evaluations cannot, on their own, qualify a child to receive services in the schools.
So there are your two options. Basically if you just want to get a student qualified for school based intervention - have your school's team take care of the testing. If parents have deeper questions on the cause of their child's learning struggle and long term suggestions - refer to a private psychologist or diagnostician. Questions? Comments?
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