Understanding My Child’s Special Education Evaluation Report

Stack of paperwork with "sign here" tabs

Evaluation Report- Photo courtesy of Reuben Strayer

Congratulations for making it this far in the process! By now, you might feel like an expert in the subject of special education. However, it is common to have lingering questions regarding your child’s evaluation report. Here is a summary of frequently asked questions.

My child’s doctor asked for a copy of the Psychoeducational Evaluation. What is this?

Like everything in special education, there are often many names for the same thing. A Psychoeducational Evaluation is the same thing as the evaluation report. It is also referred to as a MET report (a report from the Multidisciplinary Evaluation Team) or a comprehensive evaluation. Just remember that there are two main documents for your child’s special education services- the evaluation report and the Individual Education Plan (IEP).

What is a “review of existing data”?

The evaluation begins with a review of existing data in order to determine what, if any, additional information needs to be gathered (34 CFR § 300.305 (a)). The review of existing data is where all of the information from the pre-referral team is entered. This section may also include information that you provided to the team, current classroom-based information, a review of previous report cards, teacher observations, and results of state or local testing. If the pre-referral process works the way that it should, all of this information should have been gathered prior to an evaluation.

Why is additional testing sometimes required if there is already so much existing data?

Federal regulations for special education evaluations indicate that the following three procedures must be met during an evaluation. Generally, data from the pre-referral team does not meet these requirements (34 CFR § 300.304).

  1. A variety of assessment tools and strategies must be used to gather data related to your child’s functional, academic, and developmental needs.
  2. A single measure or assessment tool cannot be the only thing used to determine eligibility for special education.
  3. Tests and measures used during an evaluation must be technically sound.

What are all of the areas that the evaluation team may assess?

The areas that the evaluation team may take a look at include your child’s health, vision, hearing, social and emotional status, general intelligence, academic performance, communicative status, and motor abilities (34 CFR § 300.304 (c)(4)).

It is rare that an evaluation includes all of these areas. Assessments are chosen based on your child’s suspected disability. The pre-referral process often helps to pinpoint what assessments are needed in order to conduct the evaluation.

What do my child’s scores mean?

Most standardized tests have a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 15. If you think back to math class with a bell curve (a graph that is shaped like a bell), the very middle score, at the highest point on the curve, is 100. This means that if we graphed the scores of everyone who took this test, the greatest percentage of people score around 100. Standard deviation measures the difference from the mean- in this case, the difference from 100. Every 15 points equals one standard deviation. So, let’s say that your child obtained a score of 115 on the reading portion of an academic test. This means that your child’s reading skills are one standard deviation above the mean in reading. At one standard deviation above the mean, your child scored as well or better than 84.1% of the sample of children who took this test. The further away we get from the middle of the bell curve in either direction, the fewer people fall into that category. That’s what gives the bell curve its bell shape. Most tests indicate that the average (or normal) range is from 85-115 (±1 standard deviation).


My child qualified for special education services. What happens next?

If your child is found eligible as a student with a disability in need of special education services, the special education teacher will schedule a meeting to create the IEP. Some special education teachers coordinate with the school psychologist beforehand in order to bring a draft of the IEP to the eligibility determination meeting. (See Understanding My Child’s IEP for more information.)

What happens if my child does not qualify for special education services?

If your child is not eligible for special education services, the team will discuss strategies to help with the concern. Recommendations should be included in the report based on the test results and how best to help your child. Depending on the needs of your child, the team may recommend a 504 Plan. (See What if My Child Doesn’t Qualify for Special Education? for more information.)

How often will my child be reevaluated?

If your child is found eligible for special education as a student with a disability, a reevaluation must occur every 3 years. A reevaluation may not occur more than once a year, unless you and the evaluation team agree that it is necessary (34 CFR § 300.303 (b)).

If your child is not eligible for special education services, the team may conduct another initial evaluation at a later time if there is data to support the need for the evaluation.


Sources:

Visit http://idea.ed.gov/explore/home for federal regulations governing special education.

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