What happens when you’ve tried everything, but nothing has helped?
Maybe your child is falling farther and farther behind. All the tutoring and in-school extra attention just isn’t working.
Or perhaps your child feels bored in class like they’ve already covered the material or just finish so much faster. Even the in-class enrichments just aren’t enough.
It could be that your child just can’t seem to sit still or concentrate or interact with their classmates. Even talking to your child, signing up for sports, and little extras just don’t seem to fix the situation.
What do you do then?
It’s time to request some extra testing.
Whether you are seeking help for a potentially gifted child or hoping to qualify for special education, special testing is often needed. Each district selects the assessments or tests that they use and accept for both gifted and special education. Additionally, each district can set their own criteria for gifted education qualification. Special education requirements are decided on by the state and federal governments.
Put it in writing
To start the ball rolling, it’s important to make a formal request to the school or district. Simply asking for testing in a meeting or over the phone won’t cut it. Everything needs to be put in writing.
In some districts, using email is just fine. Even though it is less formal, sending an email could still get the job done. The best way to request testing is through a certified letter. Type up your formal request and send it via USPS. A certified letter requires a signature upon delivery and can be tracked. Of course, you should always keep a copy of your test request letter on file.
Check out the email templates in Talk to the Teacher for guidance! You’ll need to do a little bit of adjusting since this is a very specific type of letter.
In your letter, you will need to spell out exactly what you want and why you want it. This goes for gifted and special education.
Identify what area(s) you would like to have looked at. You could go broad (all academic, social, speech, and motor development) or very narrow (math). This will let the district know which tests they might need to start on.
You will also need to explain why your child needs these tests. Include report cards over time, medical diagnostics, work samples, teacher anecdotes or comments, reports from outside providers, and your own observations.
This is super important! Some tests are very expensive and time-consuming, others require a specialist to administer. Given these factors, schools will not just test everything or anything. You must show that there is a need for the test in order to better serve your child at school.
Once your letter is delivered, especially for special education, a clock starts ticking.
For special education testing, there are a set number of days that the school/district has to respond to your request. The exact number varies by state. Please check the Department of Education website for your state to get specific information.
There are no exact guidelines for gifted education, however, you should expect a response. If two school weeks pass without hearing back, get in contact to ask about the letter.
For both gifted and special education, in many states, the school is well within its rights to deny your request. They might not think that there is a demonstrated need for additional testing. Should this be the case, the district should tell you why they have denied your request. If this happens, you can appeal the decision to the school or district. Another route is to seek outside private evaluation. This can be costly and is not always reimbursed by the district.
If the district does approve your request, you will need to sign a consent form. Once you sign, another clock starts ticking. The district has a maximum number of days to complete the testing and meet to explain the results. Again, this changes state to state.
Ask for help
It can be super intimidating to ask for extra testing. You might not know how to word the letter or even what testing areas might need to be looked at.
When you feel stuck, remember that there is help everywhere. Send me an email if you think you might need a helping hand!
Have you ever requested extra testing for your child? Tell us what happened in the comments!