ALL ABOUT ASSESSMENT
What is an Educational Psychology or Psychoeducational Assessment?
A lot of parents are unsure as to what exactly a Psycho-Educational assessment entails and when it is necessary for a child to have one. This kind of assessment is primarily focussed on identifying learning problems/difficulties and/or determining the child’s emotional and academic strengths and weaknesses in order to design an effective intervention strategy or programme.
These interventions are designed to ensure that your child learns and develops to his/her full potential. There is a wealth of information a Psycho-Educational assessment can provide to help you and your child’s teachers understand how your child learns best.
Our team has undergone specific training in the UK to assess children for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder/s. These assessments are complex and further support/referral is likely to be required from a specialist Developmental Paediatrician if the comprehensive assessment is indicative of ADHD.
Generally, Psychologists’ evaluation procedures fall into the following categories:
Every child is different…..but
The Psycho-Educational assessment starts with an individually administered cognitive test that will provide information about your child’s intellectual abilities/learning profile in comparison to those of other children their exact age. It will provide you with a wealth of information about his/her abilities and learning style.
You will learn about his/her verbal abilities including vocabulary, reasoning with words, quantitative reasoning, abstract reasoning, auditory memory, processing of information through verbal channels, and knowledge of information. You will also learn about his/her nonverbal abilities including reasoning with visual cues, abstract visual reasoning, visual sequencing and processing, visual motor processing and integration, and alertness to social cues and analysis.
You will also understand whether these abilities are evenly distributed within your child, or if he/she has significant strengths and weaknesses. And you will find out what his/her abilities are in tasks requiring memory and processing speed.
The academic part of the assessment will assess the following:
- reading (phonetic skills, sight vocabulary, reading comprehension),
- mathematics (basic numerical operations, mathematical reasoning),
- academic fluency (speed of reading, writing, calculating)
- handwriting (speed, legibility
More complex assessment also include assessments of attention, impulsivity, social language/pragmatic language, behaviour and/or emotional issues.
This consultation will include a discussion about your child’s birth, developmental milestones, health and history, medications, injuries, vision, hearing, development of motor skills, speech and language development or problems, ability to pay attention, hyperactivity, emotional concerns, ability to listen to and follow directions, social development, and role in the family. You will be asked to reveal any traumatic events that may be impacting on your child. Based on the information gathered during this consultation, additional testing in several of these areas may be necessary. This will be discussed with you in detail, as the cost of the assessment is dependent on the complexity of the assessment.
The Psychologist will work with your child for approximately 3 hours, with rest breaks to aid concentration and cooperation. The child will work directly with the Psychologist, and for the majority of assessments conducted, the parents will not be present in the room; however, they are welcome to stay in the reception area and relax with a cup of coffee whilst this is taking place. For most children it is best for their parent to remain in close proximity to the assessment centre, as children can sometimes struggle to separate from their parents and may need reassurance that they have not been left alone. Older children are much more comfortable with the process and are happy to be left alone for this short period of time.
Following the assessment you will meet with the Psychologist to discuss the findings in detail. You will then receive a written report, which will include classroom and instructional implications of the findings, and recommendations. This could include certain accommodations, which are available in the school system such as extra time in test and exams, or a reader and scribe in test situations. You should not leave that meeting until you are satisfied that you understand what we are explaining to you as well as the educational implications for your child. Some children may require onward referral to other professionals, such as Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Educational Therapists, Clinical Psychologists (for therapy) or even medical professionals, such as Developmental and Behavioral Paediatricians.
Psychologists often use standardized tests of various abilities in order to compare an individual’s performance to an appropriate peer group. These tests are developed and normed (given to many individuals to determine how typical individuals perform) under standard conditions—using prescribed instructions, materials and scoring—to assure consistent and accurate results. Some common examples include the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC), the Woodcock Johnson Psycho-Educational Battery, and the Kaufman Tests of Educational Achievement.
Rating scales are most often used to determine if certain behaviours or skills are present or typical of the student. Ratings depend on the perceptions and opinions of the rater. The rater(s) must be very familiar with the student in order to provide useful information; using multiple raters helps reduce the influence of biased perceptions. Ideally the rating scales are normed on similar student populations so that results indicate if a student’s skill, behaviour, or emotional status is “typical” or significantly different from peer groups. Examples of commonly used rating scales include the Behaviour Assessment System for Children (BASC) and Vineland Adaptive Behaviour Scales.
Older students are often asked to provide ratings of their own behaviour and skills. These measures are similar (or even identical) to other rating scales, often are used in conjunction with teacher or parent rating scales, and often have been normed. It can be useful to compare how students perceive themselves relative to how others perceive them.
Psychologists can gather information about students’ learning and behaviour by directly observing them in natural settings, such as during class or social interactions. Observations not only address what the students are doing, but how others in the setting interact with them.
Direct interviews allow students to provide information about their histories, interpersonal relationships, concerns and goals. As students mature, they are more likely to provide reliable and insightful information about themselves. The Psychologist typically will summarize key information obtained through the student interview as well as relevant information learned by interviewing others who know the student well (usually teachers and parents).
The Psychologist selects those procedures and tools that will help answer the referral concerns (such as poor reading skills, low self-esteem, frequent fighting). The information gathered should include a review of what is already known, new information about areas of concern from a variety of sources, and verification of life factors (language or economics) that may affect the evaluation or the student’s learning and behaviour.
CHCI offers several specific types of Psycho-Educational Evaluation:
Comprehensive Evaluation will take between four and eight hours with the child, with additional time made available to parents for discussion. A detailed family history is obtained and a form for schools to complete is also provided. The assessment content and time vary depending on the age and ability of the child and the nature of questions for which parents seek answers. A detailed written report is provided. Where requested, we will liaise with schools and other professionals related to the child’s needs. We may refer the child to other educational, medical or professional specialists, and will indicate where resources and other facilities can be obtained.
Educational Screening Evaluation takes approximately half the time of the comprehensive evaluation and constitutes the activities of the latter half of a comprehensive evaluation. The evaluation can be used in one of two ways. If parents are in doubt about whether their child has any difficulties, the evaluation can be used as a preliminary analysis. Alternately, if a child has been previously evaluated and requires documentation of his or her specific learning difficulties, this screening identifies the child’s level of educational attainment, which needs to be assessed at the time the documentation is required. A discussion with parents is included, and either a brief written report or documentation is provided for parents to use as needed.
If a description of the child’s learning potential is required, an Ability Screening Evaluation will provide an I.Q. and an indication of the child’s intellectual profile. This evaluation also takes approximately half the time of the comprehensive evaluation and constitutes the activities of the first half of that evaluation. A discussion with the parents and child and a brief report are included. If it is identified through screening that further assessment is required, the ability screening evaluation fee is deducted from the comprehensive evaluation fee
Social and Emotional Evaluation involves some structured and some unstructured activities over a full morning, and is of value where other factors than learning difficulties may be the source of distress for the child, behavioural problems or a general failure to thrive or achieve. The evaluation requires building strong and effective rapport with the child and may take more than one consultation, depending upon the reason for the referral. A written report and discussion are provided.
Students in Singapore and in the region may be required to participate in examinations through various governing boards (MOE, GCSE, College Board, IB, etc). Examination Board Documentation requires a comprehensive evaluation if a child has not previously been assessed, and if the individual, school or parents believe the child has learning difficulties. Documentation of Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD) or other relevant diagnosis allows the examination board to take account of the individual’s learning difficulties and, depending upon the nature of the difficulties, extra time can be requested for the student in the exam. If an individual has already been diagnosed as having a SpLD (dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia) or Non-verbal Learning Difficulties (NvLD), then only the educational screening evaluation may be required. Such documentation can be submitted to colleges, universities and institutions of higher education as well as primary and secondary schools.