Consider these pros and cons
If you’re now deciding WHERE to take your child for an evaluation, you already understand the need to evaluate NOW for vital information about how to use your child’s strengths to immediately begin improving weaknesses. Moving on to your next step, you have two evaluation options: public or private. Even if you have already had a public school evaluation, you can still choose a private evaluation at this point. The following are some financial considerations followed by pros and cons of each option to help you make an informed decision.
If your child receives a diagnosis then it is probable that the evaluation, and everything associated with it including mileage, can be tax deductible – check with your tax professional. However, many school districts do not offer certain diagnoses like ADD or dyslexia. Ask, as part of your decision.
Is there ever a time a private evaluation could ever be paid for by the school? Yes, under certain circumstances the school might pay for the evaluation. You must have done the following: 1) completed an evaluation conducted by the public school, 2) disagreed with that evaluation, and 3) requested an IEE at public expense. for more information, check out this website.
Some policies and insurance companies might pay for an evaluation. Ask.
Some private evaluators offer free retesting each year of school (grades 1-11th grade). Ask the private evaluator you’re considering.
Adapted from Private vs. School Evaluations: Pros and Cons by Amanda Morin
Pros of a Private Evaluation
You choose the evaluator. The evaluator is not hired by the school, so s/he may be more impartial. S/he can make recommendations without any school concerns such as public school policy or budget issues.
You don’t need the school to agree to the evaluation for your child.
Your own child’s strengths and weaknesses can then be shared with you so that appropriate interventions can be tailored specifically to your child. And, a private evaluation can give your child a diagnosis while following stringent professional expectations.
Testing results are kept private. It is up to you if you would like to share the results. The results of the evaluations are yours and can be kept private or not, your choice.
Testing can be focused on the areas you are most concerned with. Often, a private evaluator has more flexibility in deciding which specific tests would most fit your goals, rather than a one-size-fits-all evaluation. This can make the process go faster and more importantly, more fitting for your own child.
There is no set time frame, so the evaluator will work with your time frame. That means they may be able to evaluate your child the same week that you call.
Typically, a private evaluation will include a clinical interview checking for any signs of anxiety or depression that may relate to the purpose of the evaluation.
Your child will get undivided attention in a setting that is private, confidential and comfortable. The setting is important since your child will reveal his or her best and most accurate self when feeling emotionally as well as physically safe and comfortable.
Cons on a Private Evaluation
The evaluator may not be able to observe your child in school or review records unless you provide those records (scores, report cards, etc).
There is a cost to the evaluation.
If your child is in a public school, it is required by law to consider the private testing IF the private evaluator is a Pennsylvania Certified School Psychologist (in Pennsylvania). However, it is not required to follow the recommendations.
Pros of a School Evaluation
It can easily observe your child and review public school records.
There is a time frame schools must stick to. If the school is busy with evaluations you may wait a long time to get through the process, but it is required to complete it by a certain deadline. The school coordinates testing and communication with parents.
Public school testing is free.
Cons of a School Evaluation
The results will be part of your child’s school records and can be seen by anyone with access.
The evaluators are part of the school’s team. You cannot choose them. Their recommendations may be shaped by school concerns and limitations, such as available resources.
The school must agree to the evaluation. If the teachers do not agree with you, it may not evaluate. If a student is making C’s and better on their report card, the school may not be willing to evaluate your child until grades are worse.
Even if the evaluation shows your child’s weaknesses, the school might say your child does not meet the criteria for help if the degree of difficulty does not match their criteria. Your child may need help now, to prevent them from falling further behind and meeting the public school’s criteria for needing help. In other words, the public school may conclude your child’s problems are bad but not yet bad enough to warrant getting help within the public school system.
You might have to wait to get the approval for the public school evaluation.
Some results might not be part of the school’s diagnoses. For example, your school may or may not test for dyslexia, executive functioning disorders, sensory integration disorder, visual processing difficulties, Attention Deficit Disorder, etc.
If you do not specifically request an area to be testing, it may not be tested as part of its typical battery of tests for your child’s age.
Your child may feel embarrassed about being tested at school.