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Expert Q&A

How does a parent obtain an evaluation that is more detailed than the school is willing to provide?

We, along with our daughter’s teacher, requested a full education evaluation due to the fact that she is having difficulties in school. We have a meeting and I just received copies of her evaluations. The school failed to separate scores into PIQ vs. VIQ, providing only a full-scale IQ.

I noticed, reading the fine lines, that there was some significant scattering. The school has indicated that her scores are in the “superior” range (full scale IQ is 129), and have insinuated that her difficulties are due to her home life. On the WIAT, she scored 160 in written expression, and 110 in math. I see that as a big difference!

What can I do to ensure she is properly tested. I would like her specifically tested by a neuropsychologist for NVLD, of which she meets all diagnostic criteria. How can I convince the school to do this, as I cannot afford to have the evaluation done privately?


Dear Cynthia,

If the school is not willing to conduct a specialized evaluation based on the information that has already been provided to them, you have a number of options — none of them ideal. Your situation is also more difficult because you don’t have the resources to get an outside evaluation to prove that the school is wrong. However, you do have some options.

First, you can try to educate them about NVLD yourself by providing them with literature from experts in the field about the disorder. Second, you could file an administrative complaint with the State Department of Education or the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, complaining that the school is discriminating against your child by using improper criteria for evaluating the test data, using evaluators that may not be knowledgeable about the suspected disability, and failing to consider all areas of suspected disability.

Third, you could request an independent evaluation at district expense. The district could then either decide to pay for a private evaluation or would need to initiate a due process hearing to prove that their evaluation was appropriate. Finally, you could initiate a due process hearing yourself and request that the hearing officer order an outside evaluation based on the problems/concerns you have identified.

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