Typical Evaluation Options
via the 504 process in a public school
Full Individual Evaluation (FIE)
via IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) in a public school
Private, Outside Evaluation
paid for by parents, school may or may not accept findings
When dyslexia is suspected, parents should request a Full Individual Evaluation in writing (or pursue a private evaluation with similar scope) . This ensures that their student’s learning challenges are fully identified, the planned interventions target all areas of need, and that all of the student’s educational rights are protected. Research shows 60-80% of dyslexic students also have related, co-occurring learning differences and a Full Individual Evaluation (FIE) can identify these challenges, such as written expression (dysgraphia), attention (ADHD), basic math skills, working memory, long-term retrieval, and language processing. These areas would not be identified with a dyslexia-only evaluation, but could later impact a student’s ability to be successful in school.*
It is important to note that evaluations do not have to wait until any particular grade level or age. Page 78 of the 2018 Texas Dyslexia Handbook states, “Can students in kindergarten and first grade be evaluated for dyslexia? Yes."
*Federal education law (IDEA) requires that schools assess any child who may need special education services “in all areas related to the suspected disability.” (IDEA (34 CFR Sec. 300.304)) This mandate is called Child Find, and it is an affirmative duty that obligates a school to take the initiative to identify, locate, and evaluate students when a disability is suspected. This happens through the Full Individual Evaluation (FIE) process.
Request a Full Individual Evaluation (FIE)
Asking your child’s public school for a Full Individual Evaluation (FIE) gives you much more information about where your child may be struggling...and gives you access to more ways the school can help. An FIE is the best starting point for evaluation to ensure your child’s needs aren’t missed and that all educational rights are fully protected. After the evaluation, parents work with the school to agree on how the child will be served. Asking for the evaluation does not commit you or your child to any specific supports or services at school.
To Request a Full Individual Evaluation - DO IT IN WRITING. Parents should email the classroom teacher stating they are requesting a Full Individual Evaluation for the student. DDPC also encourages parents to copy the campus Principal, Special Education Coordinator, and Dyslexia Specialist. To cover all bases, parents can also email the Director of Special Programs, Laurie Gagne. Click here for HPISD contact information and here for a sample letter to request an FIE.
After you request an evaluation, when should you hear back from the school? When will you get the report and have a meeting? If the school says no, what paperwork should the school provide to explain why they will not evaluate? This helpful resource from Region 10 answers all your questions!
The guide is designed to give you, as the parent of a child who is or may be eligible for special education services, a better understanding of the special education process and of your procedural rights and responsibilities so that you will be able to fully participate in the decision-making process regarding your child’s education.
What can a parent do if you disagree with the school’s evaluation result? Texas Project First explains that parent who disagrees with an evaluation by the school district may request an IEE at school district expense. IEEs are often used to get a second opinion on a diagnosis or lack thereof. A parent is entitled to one IEE at the school’s expense each time the school conducts an evaluation.
Also, a district may not impose any criteria or requirements to an Independent Education Evaluation that creates a barrier for a family to obtain the evaluation, such as requiring that parents first pay several thousand dollars for an evaluation then wait for repayment. This is explained on p 32 of TEA’s Technical Assistance guide for Child Find & Evaluation.
Learn More About Evaluations
This DDPC created document includes questions to ask private practice specialists who evaluate for learning difficulties and a list of Dallas area Evaluators that parents in our community have recommended.
Research demonstrates that additional direct instruction provided appropriately, beginning in kindergarten through third grade, can help all but the most severely impaired students catch up to grade-level literacy skills and close the gap for most poor readers. Assessment is the first step in identifying these students early to make sure they receive the effective instruction they need to succeed.
A private evaluation is an evaluation by a professional not working for your child’s school. As a parent, you have complete control over a private evaluation. You can choose which type of testing to have done. You can also choose the person who does the testing.
Hiring a private specialist to conduct a psychoeducational evaluation of your child is a big commitment of time, effort, and money. To find someone competent, ask other parents or school staff for their recommendations. You'll probably want to interview more than one specialist before choosing the person who will work with your child. If you get a recommendation from someone outside the school, make sure the private evaluator has the qualifications and/or credentials your state or district requires.
Want to learn more about an evaluation planned for your child? This University of Michigan overview of different tests that can be used to assess reading difficulties at different ages. It's a good resource to compare and learn about what a school or private evaluator might have planned in advance of testing.
Understanding Test Scores
Did you know that a standard score of 100 means your child is performing at the 50th percentile? Of that a standard score of 85 means your child is performing at the 16th percentile? Scores presented in formal testing are nothing like the grades your child receives at school. Check out our chart to understand your child’s scores.