Skip to main content

Expert Q&A

Can a parent require an objective assessment of a child’s skills when the school district wants to use teacher assessments?

Dear Mr. Cohen,

At my daughter’s staffing in June, it was determined that she was eligible for special education services. She will receive services for reading and spelling in the resource room, language (word finding) from the speech and language pathologist, and consultation from an occupational therapist for sensory integration.

For the reading goals, I asked if the Woodcock Johnson test or similar test could be administered to show progress in reading. (We obtained a very thorough private evaluation and have a very clear baseline.) The school district said that they couldn’t do that. To use a standardized test would require completing a domain sheet and a reevaluation. The school simply wants to use “teacher assessments.” Because of previous experience with an older child, I’m uncomfortable with “teacher assessments.” Also, the teacher assessments give me no idea how my child is performing in relation to her peers and if she is making adequate progress.

Terri E.,
Glen Ellyn, IL

Dear Terri,

You have made a reasonable request for an objective measure of your child’s progress in relation to some of her goals. There is absolutely no requirement that the school district complete a domain sheet or the normal components for an evaluation in order to conduct a particular specialized assessment in relation to progress on goals and objectives. It is entirely permissible for the parent and the school to agree to use an objective achievement measure for purposes of measuring progress in relation to specific skills. Further, the completion of a domain sheet, which is intended to specify what evaluation components are needed, can be completed at an IEP meeting. Thus, if the school district was concerned about obtaining agreement and written consent from you prior to using an achievement measure, they could have done so at the IEP meeting.

However, you should be aware that with respect to a number of processing issues, it may be useful to combine objective testing with teacher assessment. Unless the test instrument is very precise with respect to the skill that has been identified to be addressed in the objective, the test may or may not adequately capture the skill that is being directly addressed through the objective.

You should also be aware that although there are specific rules regarding the frequency with which intelligence tests can be administered, those rules may not be applicable with respect to the administration of various achievement or processing tests. The rules vary by test and by situation. However, it is important to insure that the test being used is valid for the intended purpose. Further, a number of the most common tests come in several forms or versions, specifically in order to allow for the administration of multiple versions of the test over a specific period of time.

Back to Top