Special Education Legal Primer

> What is a Comprehensive Case Study Evaluation?

A comprehensive case study evaluation is conducted by a multidisciplinary team assembled by the school district. The members of the multidisciplinary team should conduct several components:

  • An interview with the child
  • A consultation with the parents
  • A social developmental study
  • A comprehensive report of the child’s medical history and current health status
  • Vision and hearing screenings
  • A review of the child’s academic history and current educational functioning
  • Achievement testing in all academic areas
  • An evaluation of learning processes
  • An assessment of the child’s learning enviromnent.

Common problems with case study evaluations:

The most common problem with typical case study evaluations is the lack of comprehensive approach. Too often, I have seen evaluations in which only three areas are tested: decoding (reading single words), spelling, and mathematics computation. The multidisciplinary conference then determines that there are no areas of underachievement. I highly recommend that you take the results of your child’s case study evaluation to a learning specialist, a psychoeducational diagnostician, or a psychologist for review. A good case study evaluation will test all of the following areas in order to rule out areas of weakness:

  • Ability: An IQ test is administered in order to obtain an estimate of a child’s overall potential for achievement. Without an IQ test, there is no way to tell if a child is underachieving.
  • Thinking Skills: Assessing the child’s general problem solving abilities and problem solving style. In addition, an assessment of thinking skills should focus on verbal thinking skills (solving word problems) and nonverbal thinking skills (solving visual problems).
  • Listening: An assessment of a child’s listening abilities should focus on several areas. The child’s perception (hearing) should be assessed. The child’s ability to discriminate between different sounds should be assessed. The child’s short term and long term memory for words and memory for sentences should be assessed. The child’s ability to understand words (vocabulary knowledge) and to understand speech in general should also be assessed. Finally, the child’s attention should be assessed.
  • Speaking: An assessment of a child’s speaking abilities should include testing the child’s ability to articulate speech sounds, his or her ability to speak fluently, his or her ability to follow the rules of syntax and grammar, his or her expressive vocabulary knowledge (i.e., what words they use correctly), and testing his or her ability to formulate speech in a meaningful way.
  • Reading: An assessment of reading should include testing the child’s ability to decode and comprehend the written word and passages. Decoding is the ability to read words and is often tested by having children read lists of unrelated words so that they cannot use context clues to guess the words. An assessment of reading comprehension should include an assessment of the child’s ability to learn facts while reading as well as an assessment of the child’s ability to draw inferences from reading.
  • Writing: Writing is the most often overlooked area in school case study evaluations. An assessment of writing has several components: Handwriting, writing mechanics, spelling, and written formulation should all be assessed. Writing mechanics are the rules for writing, such as capatilization rules and punctuation rules.
  • Mathematics: A good case study evaluation should include at least three tests of mathematics, a test of computation skills (i.e., a worksheet style test), a test of the child’s understanding of general mathematics concepts, and a test of problem solving with mathematics.
  • Visual-Motor Skills/Visual Perception and Memory: A good case study evaluation should assess a child’s ability to percieve visual stimuli, his or her ability to remember visual stimuli, and his or her ability to reproduce visual stimuli on paper while copying and from memory.

Introduction | Disability | Free and Appropriate Education | Least Restrictive Environment | Special Education | Related Services | Case Study Evaluation | Multidisciplinary Conference | Individualized Education Program (IEP) | Re-evaluation

Referring to this article:
“Special Education Legal Primer for Parents of Children with Learning Disabilities, Attention Deficit Disorders, and Other Educational, Physical, and Cognitive Disabilities” was written by C. J. Newton, MA, and published in the Find Counseling.com (formerly TherapistFinder.net) Mental Health Journal in September, 1997.

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