5 Reasons to Get a Private Psychological Evaluation For an IEP
If you believe your child needs special education and related services, an evaluation must take place as this right is protected under federal law.
School psychologists typically face overwhelming caseloads and may fail to provide quality evaluations for your child’s individual struggles, which makes independent psychological testing invaluable for providing insights and qualifying them for an IEP or 504 Plan.
1. They Are More Accurate
Private psychological evaluations often provide much more comprehensive recommendations that can guide interventions and accommodations for your child compared to school evaluations, which is an enormous benefit to parents.
As an IEP Advocate, I’ve worked with schools who value and respect independent psychological evaluations; using them as the basis for making decisions regarding supporting students with disabilities.
When reassessing your child for special education services, quality evaluation will play a vital role in creating their Individualized Education Plan (IEP). I advise parents to obtain independent psychological evaluations early and provide them to the school district prior to any meetings to avoid delays and allow more time for review of reports.
2. They Are More Timely
Psychological testing to understand your child’s learning or behavioral difficulties can be an invaluable asset, yet obtaining this evaluation requires multiple steps and may take up to several months.
School-based psychologists tend to carry heavy case loads and may be limited in the types of tests they can utilize, and most inquiry school boards don’t maintain central waitlists for assessment referrals.
Waiting periods to have your child evaluated can often result in long waits. Private evaluators, on the other hand, are better equipped to accept more cases and can provide quicker evaluations; more likely also to have results accepted by schools reducing time your child needs to wait for an IEP allowing schools to begin providing services more promptly.
3. They Are More Affordable
An outside evaluation from someone other than your school district can be costly, with private psychological evaluations (psychoeducational or neuropsychological) typically running thousands of dollars depending on your location and evaluator (some may accept insurance coverage; some don’t).
Schools operate under tight timelines, with assessment plans typically due within 15 days as part of the IDEA legal requirement. Private professionals don’t necessarily adhere to this strict timetable and may offer quicker initial consultation appointments and evaluation reports.
4. They Are More Flexible
Private evaluations don’t just include test scores and observations; they often also offer advice about specific interventions or accommodations that could benefit their child in school. Parents can present this supplemental information to the IEP team as part of their child’s Individualized Educational Plan (IEP).
Every Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is an individual document outlining an individualized education program, and as required by law includes sections about current performance, goals and services.
IEP teams use the information from an evaluation to describe your child’s current academic performance – known as present levels of educational performance (PLPE). This can include classroom tests and assignments, individual testing to determine eligibility for services or during reevaluation, observations made by teachers, paraprofessionals, parents and other school personnel as well as classroom observations made by classroom teachers, paraprofessionals or parents.
Schools are required to review private evaluations and take seriously any recommendations presented. I suggest that parents obtain their evaluation prior to attending any meetings at school.
5. They Are More Accurate
An evaluation conducted outside of your school system can often yield more reliable information about your child’s functioning than one conducted within it. Even under optimal conditions, school evaluations do not cover every area of functioning nor address how diagnoses affect learning and development.
As an IEP advocate, I have worked with schools that appreciate and use the results of independent psychological testing as part of their evaluation process for eligibility for special education services or a 504 Plan. Such schools understand that independent evaluations provide them with valuable opportunities to get to know their children better.
Private evaluations provide more in-depth results, providing insights and strategies that will allow your child to reach his or her fullest potential. Selecting an evaluator who provides comprehensive results and recommendations could make a critical difference.