Evaluations Must Go On

ATP Clinical Division members provide support and guidance to Learning Disabilities Association

“We are definitely onboard with the position that evaluations must go on,” remarked ATP Board Member Hazel Wheldon, CEO of Multi-health Systems.

 Wheldon was reacting to an invitation from the Learning Disabilities Association (LDA) to members of the Association of Test Publishers to work together towards pushing back on the tide of anti-testing that has arisen in the wake of COVID pandemic and which is disproportionately impacting children with learning disabilities.

In a letter sent to all State Directors of Special Education in early September, LDA Executive Director Cindy Cipoletti and LDA President Dr. Monica McHale-Small wrote, “As the start of the school year draws near, more and more school districts are determining that the safest option for the students and the professionals that serve them is to remain closed to in-person instruction. With the spread of the virus clearly not under control this is certainly understandable. What is less understandable is the continued delay of evaluations and reevaluations.”

Cipoletti and McHale-Small, representing a coalition of state LDAs and Dyslexia advocates, pushed back on school leaders and advocacy organizations applying for federal waivers on evaluation timelines and urged state leaders to seek out other solutions for supporting struggling students:  “The vast majority of parents have waited patiently for school psychologists, speech and language pathologists, occupational therapists, special educators and others to determine the best way to move forward. …. the students whose initial evaluations were suspended were referred for a reason; they were struggling and unable to fully access the regular education curriculum. More than likely those struggles have been exacerbated by the educational situation in which we find ourselves.”

The LDA pointed out that “few psychology organizations at the national or state level have acknowledged that between 20 and 30 studies of performance-based cognitive, achievement, neuropsychological, and language tests have provided evidence that scores obtained in face-to-face and tele-assessment modes are equivalent.”  They urged this evidence should be utilized and publicized to” inform current practices, and be considered during interpretation of test performance.”

Wheldon, who Chairs ATP’s Clinical Division concurred with this view, observing that, “In general all the test publishers agree that many special education evaluations can and should take place virtually. Most  publishers have statements and tools in support of that outcome. MHS specifically lists all the measures that are appropriate to use in tele-assessment.”  Wheldon offered up resources compiled by Multi-Health and other ATP members (see links below.)

Dr. Vincent Alfonso, an LDA Director and Professor at Gonzaga University, also reached out to ATP, noting that next steps in support of LDA evaluations and the parents and educators who  depend on them will be a Science to Practice Virtual conference, scheduled for January 21 - 24, 2021, which he hopes will be able to highlight and connect the many resources that are available.

 As LDA noted in the letter to State Directors of Special Education, “Rather than enumerating the barriers now being faced in carrying out IDEA mandates, professional organizations, higher education and State Education Agencies must assist school psychologists, speech and language pathologists, and other professionals involved in eligibility evaluations to broaden their skill sets to prepare them to provide professional services using remote and/or physically-distanced assessments.”


Following are Digital Tool Kits, guidance documents and best practices:

Information from ATP members MHS, Pearson, and Western Psychological Service (WPS)




APA statements on tele-assessment:


NASP position on telehealth and teletherapy: