the word evaluation from wooden letters

Does My Student Need a New Evaluation? 3 Steps You Need to Know.

It’s a very important question and probably the most asked question. Does my student need a new evaluation for college? How Do you know when a new one is needed?  I’ll let you know the three steps you need to take to make the best decision for your student.

  1. Understanding Disability Documentation:
    1. Importance of qualified professional assessments.
    2. Definition of current functional limitations.
    3. Challenges with outdated evaluations and IEPs in providing current information.
  2. School Documentation Requirements:
    1. Knowing college-specific documentation requirements.
    2. Checking the age and relevance of existing evaluations.
    3. Seeking clarity on flexibility in documentation standards.
  3. Student Accommodations Assessment:
    1. Identifying required accommodations vs. requested accommodations.
    2. Addressing the complexity of accommodations and the need for detailed information.
    3. Ensuring alignment between student needs, requested accommodations, and school requirements.

Here’s the podcast transcript for those who want to read while you listen.

Does My Student Need a New Evaluation? 3 Steps You Need to Know.

Welcome back to After the IP. Welcome back. Hopefully you are having a very good month listening to the podcast. Last week’s episode with Kara Walker about scholarships for students with disabilities that was a great interview packed with information. 

I learned a lot. And I hope you did too. My biggest take away? She mentioned that students with disabilities have an advantage when it comes to scholarships. I thought that was a gold nugget tip. Because we don’t often think that there is an advantage.

And with scholarships, there is one. It was an eye opening statement. If you haven’t listened to that, please go back. It was last week’s episode. You will want to Take some notes and hit the pause button, because there’s a lot of great tips in that episode. 

Now,  today’s episode is specifically for those with IEP’s. I’m going to go over the three things you need to help you to know if your student needs a new evaluation for college? There’s three steps we’re going to go over to help you make that best determination for your circumstances.

Documentation and School Choice 

First, let’s give some background to this issue before I get into the three steps. Context is important. And you might be asking a logical question, how does documentation and a new eval play into school choice? It’s a great question, actually. It plays a role in school choice because each school has their own documentation requirements. The documentation that you may have may not necessarily meet what the school’s documentation requirements say.

Common Documentation Requirement 

Here’s the scenario. Let’s say your student wants to attend school X. It meets your students’ needs every other way. It has the right class size, great supports, and the right atmosphere. All the things your student wants and needs. Except when you look at the documentation requirements to apply for accommodations, what you have does not exactly meet what the college is asking for. Now, you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. Now what? 

Does your student need a new evaluation? Do you go to another school that will take your documentation? And if you do that, do you want to take the risk of not having some accommodations approved? This is the dilemma. Well, I’m going to review how you can make the ebay decision with your student. I will try and make it an easier process because it can be a very difficult process and it can be very confusing and maybe upsetting. This episode will help you make a determination as to whether or not you need a new eval for your student’s circumstances. 

This episode also highlights just one of the changes for students with disabilities preparing to attend college. I have a program called College transition essentials that walks you through the basics of what changes and why for students with learning disabilities, ADHD, and mental health conditions. I’ll link that below in the show notes. 

Step One: Does My Student Need a New Evaluation? Understanding College Disability Documentation

What is step one? Step one is learning about disability documentation, and the basics of how disability determinations are made. This will be an overview, not a detailed explanation, just a high altitude overview. It’s important that you’re familiar with the basics Because it leads into  step 2. I’ll get to that in a few minutes. But this is where it starts. It starts with what is documentation and it covers three different areas.

The First source of documentation is physical documentation. There are the past evaluations from qualified professionals. Second source is the students’ own verbal report, which is really difficult, especially for students with learning disabilities. It’s very hard for them to do this. The student report is generally not something they’re very strong in. As a result, accessibility staff are left with little to go on. The third source is observations mostly from the parents. 

Qualified Professional

Regarding the physical documentation, the eval, it begs the question: What is a qualified professional? Well, the law says that the diagnosis has to come from a qualified professional. This is someone with the education, skills, and training needed to administer, score, and interpret results to make an accurate diagnosis. 

They’ve had requisite schooling to be able to administer those particular tests  for a psychoeducational evaluation. And be able to score them, read the results, be able to make a determination as to what the diagnosis is, and be able to write that report and be able to make those recommendations from there.

The IEP Problem

That’s a qualified professional.  And so you probably have had one of those maybe a while back. It’s most likely from the school, which led to the IEP. Most schools will not ask for the IEP, Some will take it as supplemental information but some school don’t ask for this at all. Why? 

IEPs do not give much information. There is no data to explain why this student is on an IEP. They give some interesting information in terms of what the accommodations are, but it cannot tell you why.  It’s kind of like you have a list of groceries, but I have no idea what’s for dinner. In terms of explaining the students’ learning disability, it’s grossly incomplete.  And so that’s why IEPs aren’t in the documentation requirements for some schools. And if they are, it’s considered supplemental information.


This is the one reason why I have a very big issue with national organizations supporting the RISE Act in the Senate. This bill is the biggest lie that there is. The RISE Act is not worth the paper it’s printed on. Why? Because it mandates colleges take the IEP as evidence of the student having a disability. Well, of course the student does, duh. Yet, it leaves out the most important aspect of disability determinations. 

What are the current functional limitations? With an IEP alone, We have no idea and we can’t make that determination. And the law actually says that that little addendum with the RISE Act  actually says Schools will get to make their own determination as to what a reasonable accommodations or not. And there’s no way to make that determination happen because we have no current data to base those decisions on. 

We don’t have any data but to go by. That’s what makes the RISE Act such a worthless thing. Parents are going to think that I just, hey, when I turn in my IP, they have a disability, they get stuff. That’s not how it works. That’s not how it works. 

The Important Part of Disability Determinations. 

What does work? Data and current functional limitations. And for a psychoeducational evaluation, the definition of current is going to be different than other disabilites. Simply because we know that a nine year old is different fundamentally, developmentally, and intellectually than a 12 year old. A 15 year old is functionally different than a 12 year old. And an 18 year old is functionally different from all of them. Developmentally, intellectually, physically, all of it. We know that it changes over time. 

This is where you may hear we need a new eval every three years. For college documentation And I’m not going over disability documentation for every school, that’s not going to happen, because I can’t. But each school gets to make their determination, and they need to know what the current functional limitations are. 

Now, you might be asking a logical question, “my kid has dyslexia, that’s permanent, it’s not going away. Why would a new eval be considered? Here’s two answers. One, students develop and change like I said earlier. A 12 year old is very different from an 18 year old. Two, the current limitations are hard to discover from an eval that’s from 5th grade and the student has a very hard time explaining it. 

The Problem with Obtaining Information. 

THis is a major problem that the students themselves have a difficult time giving an accurate self report of what those current limitations are. In fact, I said this in other episodes of the podcast where I have had how many students and I can count them on one hand and not use all my fingers about the students that come in and can discuss their learning disability and why they’re on an IEP and discuss it and be very open about it and give numerous examples.

I can count them on one hand and not use all my fingers.  It is so common.  And 99. 99 percent of the time the student can’t give you that verbal report and can’t tell you what’s currently functionally limiting them about their learning disability or ADHD. ADHD is probably a little bit better, but even there they have a lot of trouble as well. It’s the main reason I have the Advocacy transition program that walks you and the student step by step to gain the information and self-awareness, be comfortable with it, and be able to explain all of it clearly. I’ll link it in the show notes. 

More Problems

And so the functional limitations are really difficult. The other difficulty with current functional limitations, especially with an assessment, is that the old valuations are, well, old. Simply put, an assessment from fifth grade is functionally useless.  It may tell us some stuff, and may be good for history. It may tell us some things, but what’s the current functional limitation? We have no data by which to go off of. There’s no data that tells us what’s current for this person according to the psychoeducational evaluation. It’s too old. 

It gives us a hint. But it’s not something that is going to give us current functional limitations. It tells us what happened when they were 10. It doesn’t say anything about what’s happening when they’re 18. That is 100 percent different. 

Two Problems Combine

Let’s recap. We may have an old eval that cannot give us any data that explains the current limitations of the disability. In addition, we have a student who cannot tell us how limited they are. Thus, accessibility staff can’t know the current functional limitations and there’s no data to go off of. To make determination, Accessibility staff need to know what the limitations are and we don’t have anything. 

Disability Determinations

Determinations are made based on the information that we get. And so, we need to make a determination first.  What is a disability? Do they have one? Currently. And what are the current functional limitations, and does that relate to the functional limitations noted in the data, and does that relate to the  accommodations that are being requested? This is the basis of making determinations of accommodations. 

You have to think about it in those terms. And giving you an overview as to what happens in an accessibility office is an important piece for you. You have to know that this is the way determinations are made.

Step Two: Does My Student Need a New Evaluation? Evaluate What You Have.

Now that you have the background you need. You have to know the college documentation requirements at the school or schools that you’re child has been accepted to. You also have to know the age of your eval. So, which is kind of important. Colleges also get to make their own determination about what documentation they require.

So some of them will require a neuropsych eval for ADHD. So they’re asking for very specific information and colleges determine for themselves what they need. You have to read the documentation requirements for your school very carefully. So you can look at what they want versus what you have. 

For example,  some schools will require a neuropsych eval for ADHD. Okay. Then you have to look at what you have for ADHD and if it meets  requirements. Now, I don’t know any school that will say  you need to have an evaluation within the last what the school has said it wants. 

What does current mean?

I can’t speak for every school, but they probably will say something like it needs to be current. Well, what’s the definition of current?  You have to read it very, very carefully, and if you’re confused about that, you can ask the school. I have this documentation, it’s this old. This is what I have. These are the accommodations I’m requesting. Is there some flexibility in the documentation requirements for my circumstances? 

You have to ask. This is the second part of the determination process to see whether or not you need to go to a different school or whether that school has some flexibility, or you need a new eval. Some schools are just very much cut and dry. Those schools make sure you have access. And as long as access is achieved, then they are done. If they cannot determine access, then you don’t. While others are focused on flexibility. You have to ask to make sure you know what the school’s stance is and how much flexibility there is.  

To recap, Check the school’s documentation requirements and compare that to what you have. If you need to consult with the accessibility staff, do so and make sure you know if there is some flexibility or not. If there is, how much. I get to more of that in step three, in a minute.

Step 3: Does My Student Need a New Evaluation? Student Accommodations Assessment

The third step to determine whether or not you need a new evaluation is knowing what accommodations your student requires, and What accommodations are they requesting. Because those are two different things. So you have to get on the same page with your student. What do they need? And what are they asking for?

If those things are the same, great. If not, then you need to get on the same page with your student. And your student needs to get on the same page with you. To get on the same page, or to assess what’s needed, Focus on what accommodations have been helpful in the past. 

Match these three things. 

In order for the disability staff to make a determination about what is reasonable for you, the requested accommodations need to make sense based on the data in the evaluation and the student report. All three have to match. Let me say that again. The requested accommodations, student report and the evaluation data have to match in order for your student to be found eligible for accommodations.  A lack of information and data in any area is going to make it more difficult for accessibility staff to determine what is reasonable for your student.  

Alternately, If your School is saying, I need X, Y, and Z. And if you don’t have Z, such as your evaluation is not current, you may need a new one to meet the requirements of that particular school. I hope you are seeing that there are a lot of moving parts. So to learn exactly what the basis is for documentation, why we ask for certain things and what they are.

Keep in mind, complex accommodations, such as note takers, or books on tape, or books in an alternate format, or readers, other different kinds of things, need the data to back it up. Those accommodations require more information than basic accommodations, such as extended test time and distraction reduction. However, If there is some flexibility and you’re just asking for the basic accommodations, then maybe it works out. 

Ask about Flexibility and How Much

If what you have does not meet what the school is asking for, you can contact the accessibility staff and ask if there’s some flexibility? How old is too old? Because if something’s from 5th grade, it may not be usable. And depending on your school, it may or may not be appropriate for them. If not, that puts things in a conundrum for some students. 

In addition, if the accommodations the student is requesting are complicated and they really need more information to go by to determine if that’s actually something a student needs. So if the data isn’t showing that you need a note taker. Don’t be surprised if a note taker isn’t approved. That’s why you need the data and that’s why it needs to be current. If you’re asking for something more complex, you need current information that supports the need.

Conclusion: Does my student need a new evaluation?

And that’s where you get into having something that’s updated. Possibly. So, those are the three steps. So, learning about the basics of determinations and how they’re made, and the basics of why disability documentation is even asked for knowing the college disability requirements for documentation and knowing what accommodations your student needs. 

Evaluating all those three on an individual basis for your particular student is going to be for your particular student. Every student’s going to be different, but that’s the basics of how to make that determination. I hope you make a good one and if it works out that you get to go ahead and do that, then great. 

And it should help in making sure that your school’s choice is the best one for you, based on the information that you have available and that you can bring forth. And hopefully that doesn’t mean you need a new eval. Sometimes it may need a new eval. So hopefully this episode helped you make that determination for yourself and answer the question, does my student need a new evaluation for college?

So lets recap the steps. To answer the question, ‘does my student need and new evaluation for college?’, we have a 3-step process. Step one: Understand the reason for colleges requiring documentation. Step 2: Evaluate the documentation you have. Compared to what the school is requesting. Step 3: What are the accommodations your student needs. This should give you a solid framework to make the best decision for your student. 

If you need more information about college transition and how to make your student into a confident self-advocate. Check out the links to my programs in the show notes.

Hopefully gives you the basics by which to make that happen, and I’ll just see you here again next week after the IEP.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. Nothing should be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice consult a lawyer. Although I am a therapist, I’m not your therapist. Any accommodations mentioned may or may not fit for your specific disability needs. All the information contained is for educational and informational purposes only