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How to request a special education evaluation

Special Education Evaluation: How to request one

Updated: August 29, 2023 · 3 Minute Read

Marissa Pittard

Reviewed by:

Marissa Pittard


  • Schools are required to provide free special education services to children with disabilities
  • You can call your local elementary school and request a special education evaluation to get the process started
  • You may disagree with the school's findings. Just remember they don't have the final say on your child's potential.
  • The results of the evaluation will determine if your child qualifies for an IEP

Special Education Evaluation: How to request one?

Contact your local elementary school and ask for your child to be evaluated for special education services by saying “I have concerns about my child’s development and I would like to have my child evaluated to find out if they are eligible for special education services.” Submit a written request (e.g., an email or letter), too. A written request will allow you to begin a legal, formal timeline that the school must abide by. Every school has its own procedures, so ask the contact person you speak with for specifics. If they deny your request, you have options.


Keep in mind: Your child is eligible for services even if they are in private school. There are federal (IDEA) and local laws that protect disabled students’ right to an equal education.



What happens during a special education evaluation?

The school will evaluate your child in all areas possibly related to their disability, including speaking, hearing, vision, physical, social, behavioral, and academic skills to determine what help/support they think your child needs.


Keep in mind: The school is NOT the final say on your child’s potential. Evaluations can be stressful and feel like a lot of pressure on your child. Remember it's just one way to collect data, and the conclusions they reach are only applicable in school -- it's not reflective of your child's overall intelligence, capabilities, or future.


After the evaluation

Your program will let you know if your child qualifies for an Individualized Education Program (IEP), which is a set of services provided by your school to help your child achieve their education goals. The results of the school’s evaluation may be different than your child’s medical diagnosis. Your opinion about your child's education and support needs may differ from the school's. They may offer very little support to your child, underestimate their abilities, or disagree with you on what support your child needs. You will probably need to advocate for the services and support you believe your child needs.


Keep in mind: If your child does not qualify for an IEP, you can ask your school to evaluate your child for a 504 plan. This article provides more information about the differences between IEPs and 504s.


You can learn more about what to expect after a special education evaluation here.


Help with special education

Many parents choose to work with a professional to help them navigate this process. You can find a local IEP Advocate through your nearest parent resource center, or by searching for “Special Education Advocates” in the Beaming Directory.

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