Dr. Kelli Sandman-Hurley has created a FREE online resource, Dyslexia in the Schools, for any parents who wants information on how to work with the school to get help for their child with dyslexia. This free e-book is only 23 pages long but it is packed with helpful information. Click here to download your copy.
Your child is struggling in school. Does he need an evaluation? Why is an evaluation important? Testing gives us data, helps us to know what areas of need to focus on, and then target those areas effectively.
Parents have the right to ask their child's public school for an evaluation and by law, the school must provide one free of charge. But there are steps that must be followed.
STEP ONE: Parents must make a request for testing in writing. Talking to your child's teacher, the principal or the front office about your concerns, or just verbally asking for an evaluation is not enough. Parents need to put the request in writing and personally deliver it to the school personnel (usually the school counselor) who should respond to it. According to Vita Nemirovsky of Homeworks Educational Consulting, it is important to include specific requests in the letter on exactly what you would like your child to be evaluated for. A sample letter requesting evaluation will help parents write an effective letter.
STEP TWO: Within 10 days, the school will offer a Permission to Evaluate (PTE) form that needs to be signed by the parents. At this point, a 60 day “countdown” starts, where the school has that much time to perform the requested evaluations. One thing to note: the time during summer vacation does not count towards the 60 days. Despite the fact that it may be late in the year, it can still be good to start the process in the spring. According to Nemirovsky, that will help set things up for an early fall evaluation.
IF THE SCHOOL SAYS NO: A school may also respond to a parents’ written request with a Notice of Recommended Educational Placement, or NOREP form. This form indicates that the school has reviewed the child’s situation and determined that he already has an appropriate placement. Parents can dispute this and still request testing. In the majority of the cases, the schools will comply with the parents.
STEP THREE: Once testing results are in, the school will meet with the parents, share results and make recommendations. If parents are not satisfied with the results of testing, they also have the option of requesting an independent evaluation, which the school is required to pay for.
The lengthy time frame can be a problem for some parents, who want to get a diagnosis, and begin to get help for their child sooner. These parents may elect to pay for and get an independent evaluation.
Next: Reasons to consider an independent evaluation
You have concerns about your child's reading progress, and you are about to meet with the teacher. Use this checklist to prepare for the meeting and bring it with you so that you gather the specific information that will help you get the best picture of how your child is really doing.
Suggested Teacher Meeting Checklist
Source: Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz, M.D.
Using a checklist such as this one will make your meeting much more productive and informative. Teachers are invaluable in terms of being able to give you specific information of where your child is at, in relation to her grade-level peers, This will allow you to further decide whether or not you should pursue a formal evaluation.
Next: I think my child needs to be evaluated. Now what?
You have concerns about your child's reading progress. You've noted that she has some of the signs of dyslexia. According to experts, if reading is not progressing, these signs should not be ignored.
What should you do now?
Schedule a meeting with the school. Sally Shaywitz, M.D., Co-Director of the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, urges parents to schedule a meeting with their child's teacher without delay. In her book, Overcoming Dyslexia, the occurrence of a number of problems over a period of time, a persistent pattern, represents a likelihood of dyslexia.
Don't fall victim to wishful thinking. Shaywitz warns, "It is wishful thinking to believe there will be a sudden, magical improvement." Schools and parents often want to take a "wait and see" approach. (Why don't we wait until after the holidays? Let's see how she's doing at the end of the year.) "Remember," says Shaywitz, "scientific data show that reading problems are persistent: they do not represent a lag in development."
Make a written list of your observations and concerns. Shaywitz advises writing down the concerns, as a help for both parent and teacher. "Parents are often so nervous when speaking to their child's teacher, that they forget why they were worried." A list, Shaywitz says, will help both the parent and be appreciated by the teacher. Along with that list, Shaywitz offers a meeting checklist that parents can use to help get as much detailed information as possible.
Next: The school meeting checklist.
Hello, I'm Janet Menosky Smith. I am a Reading Specialist and Orton-Gillingham trained tutor, helping students with reading difficulties. This blog is dedicated to providing information, resources and encouragement to families and others seeking to help struggling readers.