The second step of the model is implemented by your clinical psychologist and an education consultant who will help you to determine which areas may need improvement in your child’s academic, social and psychological development. This stage through an initial consultation will ensure that a system for remediation/ monitoring is in place to support healthy emotional and sound academic development. This is a critical step that should NOT be ignored and may uncover many hidden capabilities, inabilities or negative influences experienced by your child.
A Psycho-educational Evaluation is a comprehension assessment of a student’s functioning in three primary areas that impact learning and academic functioning: These areas, which include: 1) learning aptitude; 2) basic academic skill development; and 3) personality/ adjustment factors, which will be described below.
Tests of Learning Aptitude – (also called intelligence (IQ) tests, cognitive processing tests investigate a student’s abilities on measures of verbal-linguistic skills (long-term memory, abstract reasoning, vocabulary development, comprehension, and auditory short-term memory) as well as non-verbal skills (visual organization and memory, nonverbal reasoning, planning ability, visual-motor coordination, spatial visualization ability, and short-term visual memory).
Supplemental cognitive (aptitude) tests are given to further investigate any problem areas based on intake information and observations (e.g., attention, organization, visual-auditory associative memory, processing speed, auditory (phonological processing), long-term retrieval, visuospatial memory and fluid reasoning, etc.)
Tests of Academic Skill Development – investigate a student’s skills in the areas of reading, written language, and mathematics. Within each of these academic domains, the student is tested on measures of basic skills development and higher level application and reasoning skills. For example, reading tests assess word decoding, phonetic skills, word identification, fluency/rate and comprehension.
Test of Personality/Adjustment Factors – investigate a student’s functioning with regard to the development of his/her academic coping strategies. One’s functioning in this regard is sometimes affected by self-esteem, anxiety, internal pressure, motivational levels, etc. that are that are assessed during psycho-educational evaluation. Students are also screened for emotional distress(e.g., anxiety, depression) during this portion of the test.
What are the purposes of an evaluation?
A Psycho-educational Evaluation is often conducted in order to determine whether a specific learning or other disability (e.g., ADHD) may be impacting significantly on a student’s academic performance. For instance, the presence of a learning disability, attention deficit disorder, or emotional disorder can result in a great deal of academic frustration and inability for a student to perform at his/her level of innate potential. For example, it has been estimated that 15 to 20% of students are learning disabled. A learning disability is diagnosed when assessment results reveal a significant discrepancy (difference) between a student’s scores on achievement tests (in reading, mathematics, and/or written language) and his/her educational expectancy range (based on age, educational background, and intelligence.)
In addition to determining whether a student has a specific disability that impacts upon learning, plainly stated a psycho-educational evaluation gives a good indication of how a student learns best (i.e., his/her learning style (profile)). Once the teacher , parent, and student are empowered with this knowledge, they can make adjustments in order to maximize the student’s learning potential. Often when students can learn to understand their strengths and weaknesses as opposed to global assessments they may have internalized regarding their learning abilities (e.g., dumb, smart, average) they can be able to reduce feelings of academic frustration, while improving self-esteem.