To Test or Not to Test Privately

6 min read
Source: Katerina Holmes / Pexels

Source: Katerina Holmes / Pexels

You know your child is struggling academically, whether he’s not reading at the same level as the other kids in his grade or she’s struggling to write her thoughts on paper.

You’ve spoken to your child’s teacher, who is on board with you and confirms 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 three years, there is often redirection back to the general education arena for an intervention and referral services plan (IRSP), which includes the accommodations to be implemented for 4-6 weeks.

Teachers are 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 our struggling child? Waiting. Waiting for intervention while more time in the school year passes by. During that time, the gap widens, and remediation opportunities are lost.

I speak from both personal and professional experience. This means that both you and your child are frustrated and flailing.

What’s another 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., Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence-4, Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-5 or Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-4). A full-scale IQ is the sum of four index scores (verbal comprehension, visual-spatial, fluid reasoning, working memory, and processing speed).

An educational evaluation measures achievement or the different areas of academic functioning, such as spelling, writing, reading, and math. The Woodcock-Johnson (WJ-4) or Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT-4) assesses achievement.

The social evaluation is a review of the 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. The parent, child, and teacher can complete checklists to help identify areas of struggle and if the child meets the criteria for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or an anxiety disorder.

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 (with an IRSP) is over and try again
  • You can hire a private tutor for your child
  • You can seek private psycho-educational testing

Suppose your child’s study team has agreed to the tests. In that case, 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. (New Jersey Special Education Code). The 14 categories for eligibility are as follows:

  • Autistic
  • Auditory Impairment (deafness, hearing, communication impairment)
  • Emotional Dysregulation Impairment
  • Hearing Impairment
  • Intellectual Disability
  • Multiple Disabilities
  • Orthopedic Impairment
  • Other Health Impairment
  • Preschool Child with a Disability
  • Social Maladjustment
  • Specific Learning Disability
  • Speech and Language Impairment
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Visual Impairment

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 the child study team. A privately based evaluation can also offer integration of the data generated from the subtests administered and a diagnosis where one exists (such as a learning disability or ADHD).

Education Essential Reads

A private evaluation includes executive functioning testing examining 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? Is he a visual-spatial learner or an auditory sequential learner?

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

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 three months 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 agrees, let them proceed with the testing. Suppose you are looking to make the most of the data generated. In that case, you can consult with a psychologist, learning specialist, or educational consultant to help you integrate the data that has been provided to you.

How does the child study team determine eligibility?

Traditionally, your case manager is looking for a 20 to 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, as listed above.

When your child is struggling, our instinct as parents is 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 generated is more comprehensive and integrated than the CST evaluations. With a 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.

You May Also Like

More From Author

+ There are no comments

Add yours