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Assessments, Evaluations, Tests

"I want to passionately THANK anyone who was involved with putting this site together. There is a gold mine of information here! The site is well organized and a Godsend to our family. Additionally, I never thought I could understand testing statistics - until I read your pages. Again, a million THANK YOU's!" - Audra Siu

Parents and teachers need accurate information about the child's disability, strengths, weaknesses, and needs; this information is available from the tests and evaluations of your child.

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition
Wrightslaw: All About Tests and Assessments, Second Edition

by Melissa Lee Farrall, Ph.D., SAIF, Pamela Darr Wright, MA MSW, and Peter W. D. Wright, Esq.

Read MoreAdd to Cart

Parents, get a comprehensive evaluation of your child by an independent evaluator in the private sector. This comprehensive evaluation will give you a roadmap in planning for the future.
The evaluation should identify your child's problems and include a plan to address these problems.

Choose an evaluator who has expertise in the child's disability, is independent of the school district, and who is willing to work with the school staff. (For more information about evaluations, read Chapter 8, Evaluations and Your Child's Disability in Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy)

You must also learn about tests and measurements so you can track your child's progress or lack of progress. If you don't learn about tests and measurements, you cannot be an equal participant in planning your child's special education. (For more information about tests and measurements, read Chapters 10 and 11 in Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy)

In What is Your Bell Curve IQ?, we give you a quiz and a game plan to help you master this information - and have some fun. Download our Glossary of Assessment Terms

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Articles & FAQs

Assessment 101 is a series of three articles about developmental assessments by Dr. Aida Khan, clinical psychologist and neuropsychologist and Lecturer in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Get an overview of developmental assessments, read about the most common types of assessments, find out how to choose an evaluator.

US Department of Justice Technical Assistance on Testing Accommodations for individuals with disabilities who take standardized exams and high-stakes tests. Students with a history of academic success may still be a person with a disability who is entitled to testing accommodations under the ADA.

My Child is Being Evaluated - What Tests Should I Request?, Advocate Pat Howey offers advice about evaluations, test selection, state laws governing evaluations of children with special educational needs, and the special responsibilities and duties of advocates.

My Child's IQ Scores are Falling
. Doesn't this mean he isn't learning? The school says he's doing "just fine."

What is the Matthew Effect? Answers frequently asked questions about falling IQ scores; reasons why IQ scores drop; more information.

What Can a Parent Do When the School Balks? One parent's journey from emotions to advocacy as she lobbies for the services her son needs.

Are Children with Disabilities Required to Take High Stakes Tests? Answers to questions about using high stakes tests for children with disabilities.

IDEA, Section 504 & Kids with Disabilities. Learn about rights and responsibilities under IDEA and Section 504, parental permission, the role of your child's IEP team, accommodations and modifications, alternate assessments, out-of-level testing, accountability, and more.

"What is the Law About Evaluations?" a psychologist asks. In this article, Pete Wright explains where to find answers to your questions about evaluations. Another article will tell you more about evaluations.

Can a School be Forced to Evaluate Child? Pam Wright answers questions about what should happen when a parent and advocate want a child tested, but the school does not want to evaluate the child for special education services.

When Evaluation Shows a Disability, School Says Child is "Lazy". When parents learn that their child is not stubborn, lazy, or unmotivated, but has a disability, many are consumed by guilt. If you’ve experienced these feelings, it’s time for a reality check. "We didn’t want to raise a lazy child.” The Untold Story of Shannon Carter v. Florence County.

What Reading Tests Measure . . . and Don't Measure by Dr. Melissa Farrall. Before educators can design an effective remedial program for a child, they must understand the exact nature of the child's weaknesses. This is not as easy as it sounds. Learn about the most commonly used tests of reading - what they measure, how they are administered, and their limitations.

Testing: Myths & Realities. How many of these statements about testing are true?

* Testing suppresses teaching and learning.
* Testing promotes "teaching to the test."
* Testing does not measure what a student knows.
* Testing discriminates against different styles of test-takers.
* Testing hurts the poor and people of color.
* Testing increases dropout rates and create physical and emotional illness in children.

Parents and teachers must learn why tests are essential to measuring progress and learning. Learn the 9 Myths about Testing - and the Realities!

Tests and Measurements for the Parent, Educator, Advocate & Attorney.
Your child has received special education for three years. Has the child caught up with the peer group? Has the child fallen further behind? How do you know? What do standard scores, percentile ranks, subtest scores, and age and grade equivalents mean?
To successfully negotiate for special ed services that provide educational benefit, you need to know how to interpret test scores. (To ensure that you have the graphics in this article, print the article from the screen.) #1 download since 1998!

Independent Educational Evaluations (IEEs): What? How? Why? Who Pays? Parent attorney Wayne Steedman describes IEEs, the value of IEEs for parents and school personnel, what the law requires, and who is financially responsible.

Independent Educational Evaluations (IEEs): Must Parents Chose an Evaluator from School's Approved List? In 2004, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) published a Policy Letter about IEEs and parent choice; clarified that parents have a right to choose their independent evaluator.

OSERS Policy Letter to Baus. Can a parent request an IEE in an area that was not previously assessed by a school district evaluation? Yes, the parent has the right to request an IEE to assess the child in that area to determine whether the child has a disability and the nature and extent of special education services the child will need.

OSERS Policy Letters on Independent Educational Evaluations (IEEs)

Tests Commonly Administered to Evaluate Reading Problems.

Tests, Testing Issues and Advocacy
. Dr. Bill Matthew, Director of Special Education, Delano, CA, offers suggestions about tests and and testing issues, including age & grade equivalents, subtest scatter, improper use of projective tests, and tests that are psychometrically sound.

What Is Your Bell Curve IQ?
Take our Bell Curve IQ Quiz to test your knowledge about the bell curve, standard scores, percentile ranks, and standard deviations - and get a Wrightslaw Game Plan to improve your score.

Evaluation a Child Who Is Blind and Language Impaired. Many tests used with blind children are outdated or lead to inaccurate findings. Because testing requires the use of so many accommodations and modifications, results should be “interpreted with caution."

School Evaluations: Should Schools Provide a Parents with a Copy Before the IEP? “Parents may inspect and review any personally identifiable data relating to their children that were collected, maintained, or used in his/her evaluation."

Independent Evaluations: Should Parents Provide a Copy for the School? If the school administration wants to fight and does not have the report in advance, then fight time will simply be delayed, to the detriment of the child.

What to Expect from an Evaluation. In this excellent article, psychologist and literacy researcher Marianne Meyer walks you through the process of gathering information and participating in the evaluation process.

What You Should Know About Evaluations. As a parent, you must make sure that all areas of possible need are assessed as quickly as possible. While some parents would rather not allow their school system to evaluate their child, a refusal to cooperate at this stage of the process can backfire . . . " Read article

Why Parents Should Get a Comprehensive Evaluation from an Independent Evaluator - Benefits of a comprehensive evaluation.

How Can We Get an Independent Evaluation by an Evaluator of Our Choice? IDEA includes procedural safeguards to protect the rights of children and their parents that include the right to to an independent educational evaluation. This article includes a sample letter that parents can use to request an IEE by an evaluator who is not on the school's "approved list," or when parents are advised that they must use an evaluator on the school's "approved list."

OSEP Report on Assessments. Discusses reasons why parents should allow their kids to be tested: 

  • to improve educational results for children with disabilities; 
  • to create high education expectations for all children
  • to make schools accountable for educating ALL students.

The OSEP Report on Assessment is available in two formats: pdf and richtext.

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Pop-Ups and Checklists

Assessing Reading Difficulties and Disabilities. Click on the pop-up box to learn about reading difficulties and disabilities, like dyslexia, and find out how reading is assessed. Get IDEA requirements for evaluations, see answers to your questions, find federal law or regulations that support these answers, and a list of additional resources.

Resources - Tests

Like the law, tests change. New versions or editions of tests are published often. Use these resources to learn about various tests.

The Test Locator has Information on more than 10,000 tests and research instruments. After you review the material at ERIC/AE, visit the test publisher's site for more info about a specific test. (The Test Locator is a joint project of the ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation, the Library and Reference Services Division of the Educational Testing Service, the Buros Institute of Mental Measurements at the U. of Nebraska, and Pro-Ed test publishers.)

Cool Tool: PAR Assessment Toolkit.

The Institute for Applied Psychometrics (IAP) Reference Database provides a computerized data file of literature relevant to psychological assessment, measurement and psychometrics that is updated regularly. All social and behavioral science journals are reviewed on a weekly basis with information provided on commonly used tests including the WISC-III, Woodcock-Johnson, Phonological Awareness tests, etc.

Buros Institute of Mental Measurement provides test reviews and publishes the Mental Measurements Yearbook and Tests in Print.

National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)

Riverside Publishing. Company that publishes the Woodcock-Johnson Tests.

The Psychological Corporation. Publishes the Wechsler Intelligence Scales.

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High-Stakes Tests News (see also High-Stakes Tests)

High-Stakes Lawsuit in Massachusetts: How High Are the Stakes? Learn about the new high-stakes lawsuit in Massachusetts - and how high these stakes are.

Lawsuit Against High Stakes Test Filed in California. Disability Rights Advocates files lawsuit against California Dept of Education; claims that exit exam discriminates because it does not provide for an alternate assessment, provides no procedure for requesting accommodations, nor a process for appeals.

Judge Asked for Injunction So Seniors Can Graduate. Battles about high-stakes tests are flaring up around the country: issues include high expectations v. accountability, due process rights, obligations to teach basic skills.

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Free Pubs - High-Stakes Tests

Disability Rights Advocates, Do No Harm - High Stakes Testing and Students with Learning Disabilities (2001).

Describes accommodations, alternate assessments, appeals, procedures, and other safeguards that should be implemented for statewide assessment systems to comply with the law and guarantee educationally sound opportunities to students with learning disabilities.

Center on Education Policy, State High School Exit Exams: A Baseline Report (2002).

This report Includes data collected from all states with exit exams; information from case studies in five states; review of major research; recommendations to ensure that exit exams are implemented well and lead to greater learning.

Describes standards for tests that are used to make decisions with important consequences for students: tests used for diagnostic and intervention purposes, assessment of academic educational achievement, and alternate assessments for students with disabilities who cannot participate in district-wide academic achievement tests.

Assessments and Accommodations by Stephen D. Luke, Ed.D. & Amanda Schwartz, Ph.D. Accommodations play an important role in educational settings for students with disabilities. But what accommodations are Appropriate for which students? How do accommodations affect students’ learning and their performance on tests? This Evidence for Education addresses these and other questions and explores the research base in this area.

Accommodations Manual:  How to Select, Administer, and Evaluate Use of Accommodations for Instruction and Assessment of Students with Disabilities. (in html) Developed by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) State Collaborative on Assessment and Student Standards Assessing Special Education Students. (pdf format)

The Accommodations Manual presents a five-step process for individualized educational program teams, 504 plan committees, general and special education teachers, administrators, and district-level assessment staff to use in the selection, administration, and evaluation of the effectiveness of the use of instructional and assessment accommodations by students with disabilities. The guidance in the manual pertains to students with disabilities who participate in large-scale assessments and the instruction they receive.

Improving Accommodations Outcomes: Monitoring Instructional and Assessment Accommodations for Students with Disabilities. Third in a series of three CCSSO publications for states addressing accommodations and students with disabilities. This publication provides a comprehensive professional development guide for states to establish or improve quality accommodations monitoring programs.

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This page has been revised and updated many times.

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