Evaluations: What you Need and What you Don't
and disadvantages of an assessment done by an independent evaluator
The advantages of an assessment
done by an independent evaluator:
independent specialist usually has qualifications that exceed those
possessed by a regular school psychologist. In addition, an independent
specialist may have some unique qualifications that are not expected
from a school psychologist (e.g. proficiency in the targeted language,
experience working with the targeted population, etc.).
specialists assessment usually is more comprehensive and detailed
than the same completed by a school psychologist. In many cases (but
not always) the report is submitted faster than the one from typically
overwhelmed school psychologists. An independent specialist is more
open to your input and is focused on your childs needs rather
than on institutional (school) limitations.
of an assessment done by an independent evaluator:
evaluators are not bound by legal requirements on time frame for an
assessment, and some busy experts may delay with their reports and thus
slow down the necessary speed, with which critical school services have
to be provided.
The most profound disadvantage is that some experts,
being skillful clinicians, may still be unfamiliar with special education
procedures and the linkage between assessment and intervention in schools.
They may end up with purely medical diagnoses and unrealistic and irrelevant
recommendations that can be easily rejected by a school as inappropriate.
They may use instruments and procedures that are suitable for hospital
settings, but are irrelevant for school settings (e.g. some projective
procedures). Therefore, when hiring an independent evaluator, parents
must be sure that this person is not only qualified to perform the required
evaluation, but also has the training and experience needed to collaborate
with school staff in developing programs and interventions for students.
A specific issue is the appropriate
credentials of an independent evaluator. IDEA safeguards the standard
of care in the evaluation process by stipulating that an independent
evaluator must be qualified, and that an independent evaluation must
meet the district's criteria for such evaluations. Specifically, the
qualifications of the independent examiner must be at least the same
as for examiner employed by a school district. This provision is sometimes
used by a school district to decline a parental request for an outside
evaluator. For example, if an evaluator is licensed in another state,
a school district may refuse to hire him to do evaluation.
Given the responsibility of
school districts to ensure that the skills and qualifications of the
independent examiner are the same as the qualifications of the district's
own evaluators, it is surprising that many school districts do not have
a policy describing their criteria for evaluations. The lack of such
policy makes it difficult to determine who should be recommended to
parents as a potential independent evaluator and; furthermore, makes
it difficult to determine the appropriateness of evaluators chosen unilaterally
by parents. Complicating the choice of an appropriate independent evaluator,
is the large number of professionals to choose from, all with different
degrees, certifications, licenses and other credentials.
Boris Gindis, Ph.D.
developmental evaluation of an internationally adopted child: is it
psycho-educational and speech and language assessments on arrival of
a school age internationally adopted child are the exception rather
than the rule. Too often, school districts assume a "wait-and-see"
attitude, rejecting request for such an evaluation and suggesting "to
wait until the child learns more English." In many cases, however,
parents cannot afford losing time without proper assessment that would
allow them to request an intense remediation of their adopted child
does my child need: neuropsychological or psycho-educational assessment?
choosing an evaluation for your internationally adopted child, you basically
are making a choice between the three brunches of contemporary psychological
services: clinical-, school-, and neuro-psychology. It is assumed that
all three types of psychological services are provided by doctorate
level (having either Ph.D. or Psy. D. titles after their names) licensed