Why You Might Need an Independent Educational Evaluation
Although your school district may have already evaluated your child, an independent evaluation can provide a great deal of in-depth information that can inform curriculum decisions. School personnel often do not have a lot of time to devote to testing each child. However, an independent evaluator usually has more time—and often more training.
Parents are the child’s first and often best advocates. The independent educational evaluation helps students if it is well-written and if the recommendations are clearly stated. The best solution to dealing with a child with a learning disability is a collaborative process. This includes the school, the parents, and when needed the independent evaluator(s).
What is included in an Independent Evaluation?
An independent evaluation report is generally more detailed than your district’s. It clearly and objectively defines your child’s current levels of performance. It recommends very specific ways in which the school can help your child reach the next level of learning. The report provides you with a wealth of data about your child’s academic strengths and areas of weakness and what is needed to help your child succeed. Moreover, if the school district agrees, the assessment can be conducted independently instead of by school personnel. An independent educational evaluation must be conducted by a qualified examiner. However, the evaluator does not have to be known to the school district and may not be employed by it.
What is the Advantage of Independent Educational Evaluation?
You may wonder what the advantage is of obtaining an independent education evaluation in addition to a psychological or neuropsychological evaluation. It can be extremely advantageous to have the insights of two professionals who have spent considerable time with your child. Often one notices something that the other misses or did not experience. Moreover, this team approach provides two separate in-depth evaluation reports, both from professionals with expertise in their particular fields.
Searching for a Local Independent Evaluator?
Andrea Winokur Kotula has over 40 years of experience in education as a teacher, reading specialist, higher education faculty, educational consultant, readability expert, and researcher. She has maintained a private practice as an educational consultant to families, schools, hospitals, advocates, and attorneys since 1988. She has conducted hundreds of comprehensive educational evaluations for children, adolescents, and adults. As an assessment expert, she has testified at due process hearings and mediation sessions
Dr. Kotula has focused on the diagnosis and correction of reading and learning disabilities throughout her career. She has a doctorate in Reading, Language, and Learning Disabilities from Harvard University, where she created a test of phonemic awareness for her dissertation. She was also chair of the International Literacy (formerly Reading) Association’s Special Interest Group on Readability from 1997 to 2014 and co-chair since 2016. She frequently presents on literacy and readability at local and national conferences.
The Independent Educational Evaluation
Dr. Kotula administers a battery of rigorous tests to provide comprehensive information about your child’s academic ability. The formal (standardized) tests are statistically valid and reliable so they can adequately compare your child to other students his or her age nationally. In addition, informal tests are administered to inform instructional recommendations. Dr. Kotula provides you with a detailed report that explains the level of your child’s functioning in reading, written expression, and mathematics; the components of each that are creating difficulties (e.g., specific aspects of reading or math acquisition, language processing); and detailed recommendations for placement and services. Testing is conducted in one day and takes about four hours. There is a one-hour lunch break as well as shorter breaks throughout the evaluation if needed.
Dr. Kotula offers a discounted fee scale so that more families can benefit from the comprehensive educational evaluation that she provides. The scale is based on a family’s household size and income and is calculated by using their federal income tax form.
To contact Dr. Kotula: firstname.lastname@example.org or 401-789-8260