Support for Students with Suspected Disabilites

At Assumption-St. Bridget School, we use assessment, data-driven decision-making, targeted interventions, progress monitoring, staff collaboration and consultation, and ongoing communication with parents to support our students to progress in their academics, faith, social/emotional development, executive functioning skills, and behavior. With our Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS), we can support a broad range of student needs, including the needs of students who lag significantly behind their peers in one or more areas.

When significant differences exist between a student and their same-age and grade level peers, staff will engage with parents to determine the most beneficial avenues of support that will provide the student with the instructional approaches, academic content, and rigorous experiences needed to close the gap in skills and knowledge between the student and his or her peers. At times, staff will recommend tiered support programming offered by Assumption-St. Bridget School staff, while at other times staff will recommend an additional layer of support from private or community providers, such as tutors, speech and language pathologists, executive functioning coaches, or therapists. This collaborative team approach is often successful for a large portion of students.

However, there are times when a student’s pattern of strengths and weaknesses may be more complex and cannot be ameliorated with a simple prescription of interventions. In some cases, the acquisition of additional diagnostic information is needed to best equip a student, his or her parents, teachers, and support staff in determining the most effective services required to mitigate the student’s struggles.

Why did my child's teacher recommend that he or she get an evaluation?

Teachers and staff do not take lightly the recommendation to secure an evaluation for a student. This decision is made after much data-gathering, trials of intervention, collaboration, and consultation, and with the genuine belief that your child’s education will be vastly improved with additional diagnostic information in the hands of his or her educational team. A student may be recommended for an evaluation if school data indicates:

  1. The student has demonstrated deficiencies in comparison with age and grade-level developmental norms, in one or more areas for an extended period of time;
  2. Parents have noted concerns with the same developmental areas in their work with their child;
  3. The student has received quality, Tier 1 instruction and support, and continues to show limited progress;
  4. The student has received quality, Tier 2 intervention and support, and continues to show limited progress; and
  5. Staff believe that educational decisions would be best informed by receipt of additional diagnostic information about the student.

What do I do if I'm concerned that my child has some type of disability?

If you are concerned that your student has a potential disability, start by contacting your student’s homeroom teacher. He or she can provide you with their perspective on your student’s progress and educational plan. Another exceptional resource is your child’s pediatrician. He or she will have long-term, comprehensive medical data regarding your child’s achievement of developmental milestones and physical characteristics that can inform you on the appropriateness of an evaluation. If your student’s teacher or doctor has recommended an evaluation, you can contact a member of our Student Success Team for a list of options that other families have used to secure evaluations for students across a range of developmental areas.

What options are there for getting my child evaluated?

There are a few different ways that you can go about getting an evaluation for your child. One is through a private diagnostic evaluation, and the other is through a special education evaluation with Seattle Public Schools.

There are many differences between a private evaluation and a Seattle Public Schools’ evaluation. In general, a private evaluation is diagnostic in nature, meaning that your child will undergo a comprehensive evaluation that results in a specific diagnosis (as appropriate). Your family and child will also have the results of the evaluation interpreted for you in follow-up feedback sessions, and will receive a comprehensive report on the results, including recommendations for home, school, and additional services to address that diagnosis.

Pros of a Private Evaluation Cons of a Private Evaluation
  • Parent selects the evaluator
  • Comprehensive in nature
  • Tailored directly to the concerns of parents, students, and staff
  • Results in a diagnosis (as appropriate)
  • Provides specific recommendations to support your child
  • Typically expensive
  • Can take anywhere from 2-6 months to start the evaluation
  • Involves hours of testing for the child
  • At times, parents do not agree with the results

Another option is to apply for an evaluation through Seattle Public Schools. By law, Seattle Public Schools must serve parentally-placed private school students by evaluating students who are suspected of having a disability. In this case, the parent starts by applying to Seattle Public Schools, asking for a referral for their child. The parent manages the referral application, with support from the Assumption-St. Bridget School Student Success Team. Seattle Public Schools may or may not choose to conduct an evaluation of the student, based on the application and data provided.

Pros of a Seattle Public Schools Evaluation Cons of a Seattle Public Schools Evaluation
  • Evaluation is specific to areas of concern
  • Tied directly to available services through Seattle Public Schools
  • Free!
  • Typically not as much testing as a private evaluation
  • School district selects the evaluation team
  • Not comprehensive in nature
  • Results are categorical, not diagnostic
  • Does not provide specific recommendations for home or community services
  • Can take anywhere from 2-4 months to complete the evaluation
  • At times, parents may not agree with the results

When it comes to trying to make a decision about the evaluation of your student, it is best to contact a member of the Assumption-St. Bridget Student Success Team, who can guide you based on the specific context of your child’s situation.

Can Assumption-St. Bridget School staff help me gather what I need for the evaluation?

To support parents and students in securing appropriate, meaningful, and comprehensive evaluations across a broad range of areas, our staff are available to provide work samples, MAP scores or copies of report cards, progress monitoring and intervention information, behavior ratings, social/emotional assessments, student observation summaries, health/vision screening information, and narratives or letters of concern. In addition, with parental consent, staff are available for further direct communication with the professional evaluator of the student.


If you have any additional questions about your student’s progress, school- or community-based interventions, or securing an evaluation, please contact Elee McCarthy, Director of Student Success, at, or Kathleen Conklin, Assumption-St. Bridget School Principal, at We are happy to help you with any questions or concerns that you have!

We look forward to serving you!