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When to Consider a Private Psycho-Educational Evaluation

Special needs mom, Clinical and School Psychologist
11/16/23  7:45 AM PST
types of IQ testing and other educational testing for children. photo of young girl 8-10 years old, crumpling up homework on her desk, looking anxious.

To Test or Not To Test?

You know your child is struggling academically, whether they’re reading at the same reading level as the other kids in their grade, or they are struggling to write their thoughts on paper.

You’ve spoken to your child’s teacher and they are on board with you and confirming what you see and know.  With that said, what’s the next step?

The natural next step is to reach out to the Child Study Team (CST) of your school. From my experience during the last 3 years, there is often re-direction back to the General Education arena for an Intervention & Referral Services Plan with accommodations to be implemented for 4-6 weeks. Teachers are being asked to offer more differentiated instruction and try more strategies before the child can be referred for a Child Study Team evaluation.

Where does this leave your struggling child? Waiting. Waiting for intervention while more time of the school year passes by. I speak from experience. This means that both you and your child are frustrated and flailing.

What’s your other option? The private psycho-educational evaluation.


What are the tests involved in a Psycho-Educational Evaluation?

A Psychological Evaluation consists of an IQ (intelligence quotient) test, which is usually a Wechsler based test that looks at intellectual functioning (e.g., WPPSI, WISC-V or WAIS-IV).

A Full-Scale IQ is the sum of four index scores.

An Educational Evaluation is a measure of achievement or the different areas of academic functioning such as spelling, writing, reading and math. The Woodcock Johnson or Wechsler Individual Achievement Test is used to assess achievement.

The Social Evaluation is a review of developmental and family history of your child. Often, this information is gained during your intake, which is the first appointment between you, the parent, and the Psychologist.

Executive Functioning assessment of learning, attention, memory, cognitive flexibility, etc.


What are my options?

As a parent, you have a few options:

  • You can pursue a Child Study Team Evaluation.
  • You can wait until the 4-6 week time period (with an I&RS plan) is over and try again.
  • You can hire a private tutor for your child.
  • You can seek private psycho-educational testing.

If your Child Study Team has agreed to test, you will meet again in 90 days to review the test data and determine your child’s eligibility for a special education program and related services based on the test results.


What are the advantages of gaining a psycho-educational evaluation privately?

A private psycho-educational evaluation can offer you more information than an evaluation provided by your Child Study Team. A privately based evaluation can also offer you a diagnosis, where one exists (such as a learning disability, ADHD).

A private evaluation often consists of Executive Functioning testing that looks at attention, learning and memory, impulse control, and cognitive flexibility.  Another piece of information that is available to you is the learning profile. That is, what is your child’s learning style? Are they a visual spatial learner or an auditory sequential learner?

The examiner has the ability to integrate all of the test findings in order to understand your child as a student and learner instead of looking at discrete test scores without looking at how they are related to each other.

The other major advantage is that this testing will be completed in less than 90 days, which means that you do not need to wait 3 months in order to gain an understanding of how your child is functioning, based on standardized test scores.


When should I accept a Child Study Team-based Evaluation?

If everyone on the Child Study Team is in agreement, then let them proceed with the testing. If you are looking to make the most of the data generated, you can consult with a psychologist, learning specialist or educational consultant in order to help you integrate the data that has been provided to you.


How is Eligibility Determined by the Child Study Team?

Traditionally, your Case Manager is going to look for a 20-23-point discrepancy (please note that this can vary from state to state and district to district) between the Full Scale IQ and an index score on the educational testing.

This suggests that there is a difference between your child’s cognitive ability and how they are actually performing; thus, a learning disability exists, and your child can be eligible for special education and related services under the category of Specific Learning Disability.

Your child can also gain eligibility under several other categories (please refer to your state’s special education law), such as Other Health Impaired, Autism, Communication Impaired, etc.


When your child is struggling, our natural instinct as parents is to try to find an answer and a solution as quickly as possible. There are two routes you can take – connect with your district’s Child Study Team or seek a private psycho-educational evaluation.  Each route has its advantages and disadvantages. That is, the CST evaluation will be at no cost to you. However, the amount of data generated from it is limited to their requirements.  The private Psycho-Educational Evaluation is associated with a cost. However, the report is yours to share as you wish, and the amount of information that is generated is far more comprehensive and intergrated than the CST evaluations. With the private Psycho-Educational Evaluation, you can gain a diagnosis such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, anxiety, ADHD, Autism, etc.

The two routes are different in the information that they can offer, and it is up to you as a parent as to which route is doable and preferable.


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