The #1 Reason You Should Consider a Private Learning Evaluation
As a parent it can be so difficult to know how to support your child. Do you have the school do all of their testing? What does that testing show? How do you really know whether or not your child is on track? What if test scores don't match the brilliance and/or struggle you are seeing at home?
This month we will be diving into several of these issues as we really focus on the differences between school testing and private testing and what you should be looking for. Two of the most common questions we get here at Ascend are:
Why Should I Consider a Private Evaluation if the School Will Do Testing?
What Can I Do with Private Evaluation Information?
These are excellent questions! So to dive in we are going to give you the #1 Reason You Should Consider a Private Learning Evaluation.
School-based evaluations are great, they give you a lot of data and depending on the type of evaluation provided, the information can help determine whether or not your child may qualify for additional services provided through the school. However -
School-based evaluations don't tell you the #1 thing you need to know!
The one thing you must absolutely understand and that you need from a comprehensive evaluation is an answer to the question you should be asking: Where do we go from here?
A private learning evaluation is much more likely to provide you with a road map of exactly what your child's academic strengths and weaknesses are, what intervention should look like, and how both you and your child's school can support your child both in and out of the classroom.
School-based evaluations are meant to determine if students are meeting curriculum standards and if they qualify for services - NOT what areas your child has individual strengths and weaknesses in and how to move forward to address both the strengths and weaknesses in order to fully support the development of your child both intellectually and emotionally.
If you need to know exactly what to do next and what supports your child will need to meet his or her individual potential you need to know how to support him or her. You can only know this by understanding the full picture without the bureaucratic red tape that pops up around school-based assessments and evaluations. You need to know without a doubt that the recommendations being made are being made without consideration of financial resources.
What Information Does a Private Evaluation Provide?
A private evaluation should provide you:
An opportunity to discuss previous history and development of your child beyond the current academic year. You should be able to explain any concerns or thoughts you had during your child's earlier years to see how those observations add to the current picture of your child's development.
An understanding of your child's abilities with regard to language, problem-solving, memory, the speed at which your child can take in new information and respond.
An understanding of your child's academic strengths and weaknesses.
An understanding of whether the pattern of strengths and weaknesses are consistent with any specific diagnoses.
A plan for support around any areas of extreme strength or weakness.
School-based evaluations provide a lot of information but the purpose of the evaluation is different. Your goal as a parent is to know that your child is getting what he or she needs, and in order to truly know the answer to this question you need the opportunity to sit down and talk about your child without all the jargon and legal processes the school is required to abide by.
Both School and Private Evaluations Should Be Measuring Specific Things Based On Your Concerns.
Literacy (Reading and Spelling)
If you are concerned about your child's reading and spelling ability an evaluation should measure your child's ability to:
Identify the sound structure of oral language
Recall sounds, syllables, words, digits and letters
Understand the sound-symbol relationship
Use symbol-sound associations to identify (read – pronounce) real words and nonsense words
Read accurately, at a story-telling pace, words in isolation and paragraphs
Spell and write at the single word level, sentence level, and at the paragraph level.
In a private setting these assessments should be able to determine whether or not your child has dyslexia. In a school setting these assessments should be able to determine whether your child qualifies for services with a Specific Learning Disability in Reading.
If you are concerned about your child's writing, an evaluation should measure your child's ability to:
Form appropriate letter and number patterns
Coordinate fine motor movements
Write thematically appropriate pieces at the sentence and paragraph levels
Write with age-appropriate fluency
Write with contextual conventions including mechanics, spelling, and handwriting
In a private setting these assessments should be able to determine whether or not your child has dysgraphia. In a school setting these assessments should be able to determine whether your child qualifies for services with a Specific Learning Disability in Writing.
Comprehensive Educational Assessment
If you have global concerns about your child's academic performance, an evaluation
Ability to Understand and Express Thoughts and Ideas through Oral language
Reading skills (Decoding, Fluency, and Comprehension)
Mathematical skills (Operations, Mathematical problem solving, and Fluency)
Writing skills (Spelling, Sentence, and Essay composition)
Academic Processing Skills (Processing Speed and Fluency of Academic Skills)
Nonverbal Problem Solving (Fluid and Spatial Reasoning)
In a private setting these assessments should be able to determine whether or not your child has any specific learning disability. In a school setting these assessments should be able to determine whether your child qualifies for services with a Specific Learning Disability in any of the qualifying categories (Reading, Writing, or Math).
School evaluations can provide excellent data, but it can be difficult to interpret what all of the scores mean. That being said - the #1 Reason You Should Consider a Private Learning Evaluation is because you need to know where to go next, you need a plan, you need an independent perspective of what the supports both in and out of the classroom should look like for your child to make the best possible gains.