If you disagree with the school district's special education evaluation of your child, you are entitled to an independent evaluation at public expense. You may also pay for it yourself without consulting the school. Although the school district probably will have already evaluated your child, independent evaluations are conducted by the professionals of your choice.
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. However, as an independent evaluator, I usually have more time and often more training. My report is generally more detailed, and as a rule it contains more specific recommendations for remediation and accommodations or modifications to the curriculum. It clearly and objectively defines your child's current levels of performance and recommends the specific ways in which the school can help him or her reach the next level of learning. My report can provide you with a wealth of information about your child's academic strengths and areas of weakness and what is needed to help him or her to succeed. If the school district agrees, the evaluation can be conducted independently instead of by school personnel.
An independent evaluation for a student with a disability is part of parents' due process rights under state and federal law if they disagree with the school's evaluation(s). This request has to be sent in writing to the director of special education. (Send it certified mail.) The evaluation must be conducted by a qualified examiner, but she or he does not have to be known to the school district and may not be employed by it. Unless the district requests a hearing, it is required to respond to you in writing and the evaluation is paid for at "public expense." (For additional information about independent evaluations and parental rights to obtain them, please refer to Parents' Frequently Asked Questions.)