Often when folks think about evaluation, they’re thinking about in the context of determining eligibility for special education services.
While extremely common, this idea of evaluation is not only incomplete, it obscures the vast power that evaluation can actually provide.
When public schools assess students for learning and attention issues, they are doing it to determine eligibility for services. And because of that, they must use standardized, formal assessments to determine whether a child fits a qualifying, eligibility category “label.”
But, evaluations do not have to be used to determine whether a child’s cognitive skills put them in a category, or to give them a label. When you as a parent or caregiver seek out an independent evaluation, you have complete control over what skill areas are assessed and whether or not you want assessments to be conducted for diagnosing your child or describing their learning profile.
And in fact, it’s the description of your child’s complex learning profile that you can receive from an evaluator that will give you the most power to help turn things around for them.
Why is that?
Here’s how the textbook “Assessment in Educational Therapy” explains it:
A qualifying “label,” such as a Specific Learning Disability, may reduce a student’s complex learning profile in an overly narrow way which may mask the overlapping and/or compounding learning issues.
A qualifying term is never strengths-based. It only emphasizes “what’s wrong,” which may lessen the family’s understanding for the need to take action.
A qualifying label may feel like a “death sentence” instead of providing a helpful and a more hopeful explanation. For example, dyscalculia is not an inherently descriptive term. A thoughtful description may lead to greater self-awareness. “Oh! I’m not dumb! I have good math problem solving skills but struggle with computation. If I really try to memorize those math facts …”
So when you get your child an evaluation that is not focused on assigning them a diagnosis or a label, you can get:
- in-depth knowledge about their actual skill levels
- a more complete understanding of their who they are as a learner
- facts and data that will allow you to advocate for your child’s needs efficiently and effectively
- objective information that can empower your child and reduce stigma
- robust data that can be used to create a plan to provide them with the exact individualized support they need right when they need it
- a true understanding of what’s been holding them back, and a path forward to reaching their full potential
Can you imagine feeling that empowered about your child’s future?
And again, the best news of all:
You are in control when it comes to determining what skills your child will be evaluated for, whether or not their evaluation will be used for a diagnosis, and what kind of descriptive report you receive from your child’s evaluator.
You get to decide.
You do not have to choose an evaluator that is going to focus solely on diagnosing your child.
You have many options other than evaluators whose main objective is to determine whether your child does or does not qualify for certain services at school.
You and your child can have so much more. I know because I deliver more for students and their caregivers every day.
Unlike in other programs that conduct one evaluation and provide you one report with the findings, when a child joins The School Without Suffering Student Membership, their expert academic coach will assess their abilities on a continuous basis and provide you an updated written report every week.
At the Panoramic level of membership, the coach will conduct evaluations and provide reports that can demonstrate to your child’s school that they are eligible for specialized educational support such as a 504 plan or an IEP.
With clear and consistent weekly reports and monthly check-in meetings, you will always know and understand your child’s current strengths and weaknesses, the specific learning goals they are working toward and why, and what their progress looks like week to week. And with unlimited email and text support, you’ll get answers to any questions you have right away.
Your child will have the help they need when they need it.
Another benefit of our method of continuous assessment and evaluation is that your child will start getting help on their school challenges immediately. No bringing them in for a special 1–2 hour evaluation appointment and then waiting a week or more for a report before support can begin. And no extra curriculum that adds even more work to their already overloaded plate.
Your child’s academic coach will begin to support them with their schoolwork during their very first 1:1 session. And, your child will be able to start attending Office Hours as much as they need Monday–Thursday their very first week in The Student Membership.
That means that they’ll start to feel better and do better right away, and you’ll see changes in behavior, grades, moods, and attitudes quickly.
As your child’s time in The Student Membership goes on and we learn more and more about them, their academic coach will work with you to create specific, measurable learning goals for the month. These goals will be shared with all of the School Without Suffering coaches so that whether your child is in a 1:1 session or Office Hours, they will be learning and practicing the skills they need to meet their goals, all while completing their school assignments.
I’m nowhere near the first person on the internet to describe how powerful an evaluation process can be for students and their parents.
But nowhere else have I seen a resource for parents and caregivers explaining what the experts in the field know: that continuous, descriptive, actionable reporting from evaluators is what you need in order to get the most power out of the evaluation process for your child’s learning.
I’m so happy to be able to provide that today. If you have any questions about what you’ve read, please don’t hesitate to click the link in the banner at the top of the page to join the School Without Suffering Facebook group and ask.
Don’t want to wait to read all three things no one is telling you about having your child evaluated for learning and attention issues? Click here to download the entire five-part series right now for free.
Founder & Principal Academic Coach
Laura Fragomeni, Ed.M.
Laura Fragomeni is a Harvard-educated master academic coach and the founder of School Without Suffering, an academic coaching practice specializing in helping struggling students around the world be happy and successful.