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So, you've decided it's time to officially get to the bottom of your child's learning challenges and you believe your child needs to be evaluated.

Where should you start?

What do you need to know?

This journey requires you to arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible to ensure the best outcome. There is a plethora of information out there, but following the steps on this page will equip you with essential information for the journey. Take a deep breath, go slowly so you don't get overwhelmed, and get ready to take some notes! 

School Notebook

Step 1

School Notebook

Step 2

Make sure you have a list of specific tests needed to diagnose any condition you and your child's teachers suspect (see section on types of tests below) and request those exact tests. This is one of the most important steps in the process.

Types of Tests

Testing for dyslexia 

A general overview of

  • why testing for dyslexia is important

  • what the tests should cover

  •  what can be expected after an evaluation

This whole article is excellent. Scroll down to the third part of this article, which includes:

  • Specific names of some of the common tests and subtests for dyslexia

  • What they test 

  • Why they are important

Testing for dyscalculia

A general overview of what is assessed in an evaluation for dyscalculia that includes:

  • specific names of common tests for dyscalculia

  • What they test

  • Why the tests are important 

Testing for ADHD

There is no one test for ADHD-- it is a series of interviews, questionaries, and in-person evaluations by a knowledgeable clinician. Remember, not all clinicians are knowledgeable about ADHD.

Testing for dysgraphia

Evaluation for dysgraphia should be included in an evaluation for dyslexia to assess the degree of challenges with written expression. This article includes

  • Specific names of common tests for dysgraphia

  • What they test

  • Why the tests are important 

School Notebook

Step 3

Choose how your child will be evaluated


There are two routes you can take to get your child tested: testing provided by your school district and testing provided by a private clinician/testing center.

In order to make an informed decision, read about the pros and cons of private vs. school evaluations from Understood


To request a disability evaluation, write a letter or email to your school’s special education coordinator. You can use this form assistant to create your letter requesting a disability evaluation. In your letter, you should:

  • Request an evaluation. Ask for an evaluation. You should make your request in writing.

  • Include specific information about your child’s needs. Describe examples of your child’s behaviors and difficulty in school. Explain why the school should evaluate your child.

  • Include important documents. Attach copies of any important documents (like medical evaluations, psychological evaluations or performance tests that support your request).

After you send the letter, the school must respond within 30 days. If the school denies your request, you can appeal the decision.

School Notebook

Step 4

If you choose the private route, find a qualified evaluator with experience and a specialty in diagnosing dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, and ADHD. All of the professions listed below qualify someone to evaluate, but not all evaluators are experienced and knowledgeable!  Find someone whose practice specializes in the learning differences you want evaluated.

Who is qualified?

  • reading specialists

  • speech and language pathologists

  • clinical psychologists

  • educational psychiatrists 

  • neuropsychologists

  • testing centers run by hospitals and/or schools

School Notebook

Step 5

Once you have an evaluator (either private or provided by your child's school)...
  • Ask evaluators if they will provide those tests and if not, why.
  • If you are pursuing district testing, write a letter to your district asking for those specific tests. They are required by law to respond to your request.
School Notebook

Trouble Shooting

The school is refusing to provide testing because they think my child is doing well enough. 

Unfortunately, this is maddeningly common. Most public school districts have a "wait and see" or  "failure first" model. As this article from Edsource states, "Dyslexia assessments vary by district, but usually schools don’t test students for reading disabilities until third or fourth grade when they’re already lagging well behind their peers in literacy skills." 

Research has proven that the earlier the intervention (even before a child is taught how to read), the better. 

So, what should you do? 

  • Try to get private testing. With a competent evaluator, the testing will be more comprehensive and the recommendations for their teachers more thorough. You will then be more equipped to convince the school that accommodations are necessary.

  • If you can't afford private testing, document everything! Save samples of your child's work, recordings of your child reading, letters from teachers, etc... and keep pushing for the school to evaluate your child. 

  •  Is funding for private testing an issue? Some universities, hospitals, and other testing centers may offer reduced fee testing. Search for a center in your area and ask about any financial assistance, sliding scale payments, or reduced fee testing they may offer.


In some cases, if you've already had a school evaluation that you disagree with, the school may be required, by law, to pay for a private evaluation. Read here for more, which includes a sample letter to request a private evaluation.


School Notebook

Next Steps

Go to After the Evaluation for information on next steps including...

  • What to do if you don't agree with the school evaluation

  • Understanding the report 

  • How to hold your child's school responsible

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