I could post the stories, but it might get me in trouble. The parent who had promised her child she would pass a level, when the child wasn't ready and I didn't agree. The father who brought his child to class, stuck his nose in my colleague's face and said "She better pass this week, or I'll be talking to your director." The coach who told a parent that her child was so talented that she could skip four levels.
So how do evaluations work?
Most rinks follow one of two national curricula-- Ice Skating Institute Learn to Skate or US Figure Skating basic skills. These curricula have specific markers that let a coach know when a child is ready for the next level. The curricula build on each other-- mastering one puts a skater on the path to success at the next.
There is no accepted or standard rate at which skaters move through the levels. As with any skill-based endeavor, participants progress at different rates depending on interest, practice, and ability. A very committed skater will move through quickly; someone who cannot devote as much time will move more slowly. A skater in private instruction will progress more quickly than someone who takes only the group classes, and always, the skaters who practice on their own will do better. If you take every level just once (this is rare), the fastest you will get to Freestyle is six sessions, or a little over a year. Most children can make it to Freestyle in less than 2 1/2 years. If your child starts skating at the age of 8 or 9, this means they’ll make it to the higher Freestyle levels well before high school, so don’t worry.
If you really disagree with a pro’s evaluation, always feel free to ask the pro why you or your child received that evaluation, and ask what you can do to help your skater move ahead faster. In most cases, you shouldn’t ask a different pro to re-evaluate your child. (The exception is in the case that your private coach is also the class instructor. A skater’s private coach should not evaluate his/her own student.) The best person to perform the evaluation is the one who knows your child from all the time they’ve spent together in class.
You can read about general criteria on line at US Figure Skating (look for info on Basic Skills Program) and the Ice Skating Institute (look for Learn to Skate). Both links are in the sidebar.