An initial evaluation to determine if your child has a disability must include:

  • A comprehensive psycho-educational evaluation that looks at what your child knows and how he or she learns;
  • A social history of your child's developmental and family history, often from birth to present;
  • An observation of your child in his or her current educational setting;
  • Other tests that may be appropriate for your child, such as speech, language or functional behavior assessments as needed;
  • Assessments that include a review of school records, teacher assessments, and parent and student interviews to determine vocational skills and interest for students age 12 and older;
  • You will also be asked to provide the school or CSE Office with a recent physical examination of your child. If you have trouble obtaining one, the school or CSE Office will help you get one at no cost to you.

The evaluations will determine your child's skills, abilities and areas of need that affect his or her school performance.


Common Evaluations and Tests

Psychoeducational Assessment
During this evaluation, a licensed psychologist works with the student to get a better understanding of how his or her thinking processes work and what his or her strengths and weaknesses are. as a learner. It can also include looking at aspects of the child's personality like moods and temperament and on typical roles and behaviors in the student's family. There may be testing involved, as well as looking at student work and conducting interviews.

The psychoeducational assessment contributes information about processes which affect learning, thinking, and behavior, and thereby provides a basis for designing an educational plan that builds on the student's strengths and helps to overcome weaknesses. The psychoeducational assessment is also important in the prevention of educational, behavioral, and social/emotional difficulties through the early identification of the special needs of a student.

Level I Vocational Assessment
A vocational assessment incorporates information gathered from the student, parent(s), and teacher(s) utilizing the Department of Education Vocational Assessment Interview forms, and a review of school records to determine vocational skills, aptitudes, and interests. This is an assessment that is required for all students with disabilities and must be considered at the review of an IEP for all students receiving special education services who will turn twelve by the end of December in that school year.

Speech and Language Assessment
The goal of this interview/examination is to understand and describe how the student communicates, meaning the student's ability to comprehend, express and exchange information and how those abilities affect the skills he or she needs to use for learning. A speech and language assessment is recommended when a teacher, parent or other school professional notices difficulties in the student's pattern of communication.

When the student comes from a culturally or linguistically diverse background, this assessment must look at all the communication strategies with which the student is familiar. Social and cultural factors must be considered in conducting the assessment.

Assessment Requirements for Occupational Therapy/Physical Therapy
If the IEP Team initially recommends a student to receive occupational or physical therapy, an assessment by an appropriate professional needs to be conducted. A physician's prescription is not needed to conduct an assessment, but is required in order to make a recommendation.

Assistive Technology Evaluations
An Assistive Technology evaluation is done when a student may need an assistive device to accomplish his or her schoolwork. You should provide the school or CSE with any information you have that you think would be relevant to this evaluation. Every professional working with the student is asked to contribute to this evaluation. Supporting medical documentation and/or specialized assessments (Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy, Audiology) should also be reviewed. If Department of Education staff is unable to conduct the evaluation in a timely manner, the Committee on Special Education Office may bring in an external contractor to conduct the evaluation.

Independent Evaluations

An independent evaluation means a test or assessment done by someone who does not work for the Department of Education or your child's school. You have the right to disagree with the outcome of any evaluations and to request an independent evaluation by a licensed professional, which the Department of Education will pay for if it agrees that it is needed.

Although the Department will conduct any necessary tests and assessments, you have the right to provide the school or CSE Office with additional evaluations conducted at your own expense. If your child is eligible for Medicaid, these evaluations may be covered by Medicaid.

If the DOE does not complete its assessments within 60 calendar days and you did not delay the process, you will receive an Assessment Authorization Letter, which means the Department of Education will pay for independent evaluations. The letter explains how you can select an appropriately licensed non­Department of Education independent evaluator at no cost to you.

If you want the DOE to consider independent evaluations, you should provide them to:

  • Your child's school (if your child attends a public school)
  • The CSE Office (if your child attends a non-public, private, parochial or charter school or is not old enough for school).

Bilingual Evaluations

Some children require a bilingual evaluation, which is conducted in both English and your child's preferred language by professionals who understand both languages. Your child will be given a bilingual evaluation based on the language you use in your home, as indicated on the Home Language Identification Survey, and the results of the Language Assessment Battery-Revised (LAB-R) or the New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT), which are tests that evaluate your child's speaking, reading, listening and writing abilities in English. If it is determined that your child needs a bilingual evaluation, a New York City Department of Education bilingual evaluator will be assigned. If a bilingual evaluator is not available, the Department will use a bilingual evaluator who works for an agency under contract to the Department, a non-Department independent bilingual evaluator or a monolingual evaluator with an interpreter to conduct the evaluation.