Although educational evaluations are generally conducted by school personnel, an educational consultant can perform them for you, particularly for those students whose needs are not being met despite your best efforts. Given her familiarity with a variety of formal and informal tests and teaching approaches and her level of expertise and knowledge of educational research and practice, the consultant, working with the other members of your team or with independent evaluators, can provide you with a detailed report that explains the level of the student's functioning, the components that are creating these difficulties (e.g., specific aspects of reading or math acquisition, language processing, psychological issues), and comprehensive recommendations for placement and services. Having a consultant conduct such complex evaluations creates more time for your regular staff members to pursue their work while simultaneously providing an outside opinion. On the other hand, the consultant could be utilized as a second opinion for the school after its routine evaluation has been completed. The specific areas of concern could be presented to the consultant who would then focus on these as she performs the evaluation.
The independent evaluator usually has more time and often more training than the school's educational evaluator, her report is generally more detailed, and as a rule it contains more specific recommendations for remediation and accommodations or modifications to the curriculum. School personnel often do not have a lot of time to devote to testing each child; frequently the tests they use are actually screening devices with relatively low statistical reliability. An independent evaluation can provide you with a wealth of information about the child's academic strengths and needs. It clearly and objectively defines the current levels of performance and recommends specific ways in which the school can help the child to reach the next level of learning.