So You Think You Need an Expert: A Cautionary Tale (Part III)

Jun 1, 2024 | Independent Expert Evaluation, Special Education

So You Think You Need an Expert: A Cautionary Tale

 

Part III: Components of a Good Expert Evaluation

 

This blog is the third in a series of guiding parents in getting a good expert evaluation to serve as the foundation of their child’s IEP or 504 Plan. April’s topic was Mistakes Parents Make When Seeking a Better IEP or 504 Plan. May’s topic was How to Choose an Expert.

 

Part III: Components of a Good Expert Evaluation

In order to effectuate changes in your child’s educational plan, whether it be a 504 Plan or an IEP, you need first to understand your child’s learning abilities and needs. A good expert report will give you that. But how do you know when a report is good enough to do the job? Look for, and ask for, the following components:

 

  • Review of Records. Good expert evaluations are thorough.  They usually start with a review of all your child’s records. This provides a baseline for the expert and guidance as to which testing instruments to utilize in the evaluation.
  • School Observation. Your expert should observe your student in school. This usually occurs prior to testing, so your child will not recognize the expert and change her behavior in any way.
  • Parental Input. Your expert will likely interview you about your child’s history and your thoughts on their educational performance and needs.
  • Formal Testing. On a set date after the observation, your expert will administer the testing instruments.  The “instruments” may include:
    • Intelligence Tests. An intelligence test measures your child’s reasoning and problem-solving abilities.  It is supposed to gauge how well a student can use information and logic to answer questions and to make predictions compared to others their age.
    • Achievement Tests. An achievement test is an assessment of developed knowledge or skill.
    • Standard Scores. A standard score indicates how far above or below the average score a student’s performance falls.
    • Relative Proficiencies. The relative proficiency index is a column that appears in the results of the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement.  They will show your child’s level of proficiency (i.e., accuracy, speed) at the level at which their peers are 90% proficient.
    • Rating Scales. A rating scale is a common method of data collection used to gather comparative information about a specific subject.
  • Specific Recommendations.  The expert report should conclude with very specific, strong recommendations for your child’s educational programming.

 


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