There are several things you should consider when deciding between having your student evaluated by a private school psychologist or by the public school district. First, whether your child attends public school or private school, you have the right to request an evaluation from the public school to which he or she is zoned to attend. Ask the school the following questions: What is the procedure for having a public school evaluate my child? What is the time frame for having my child evaluated—from testing to completed report? Is your school psychologist able to diagnose an attention disorder or learning disability such as dyslexia?
When considering a private evaluator, you should ask the same questions about procedures and time frame. Also ask the evaluator if they will conduct a classroom observation and how much input or contact will they have with the student’s teachers. Will the evaluator call the school and interview the teachers? Meet with the teachers in person? Will the psychologist do the evaluation him/herself, or do they have a psychometrician do the actual testing?
Ask both the public school and private evaluators what battery of tests they use. Make sure they are using comprehensive batteries and not screening instruments. If your child has a learning difficulty, for example, with reading, there should be additional testing in that area such a reading fluency and phonological processing measures.
Do your homework, speak to the evaluator, ask your questions, and feel good about the decision you make.