A child’s success at school is paramount to their development. Not only does it play a role in developing their knowledge and skills, but also in developing social skills and self esteem. Yet, to this day, we still see some children fall behind in the classroom, leaving parents and teachers asking why they aren’t doing better. With the development of psychoeducational assessments, the answers to this question can be found. What is a psychoeducational assessment and how can it help a child who is struggling at school? Read on to find out!
What is a Psychoeducational Assessment?
A psychoeducational assessment is a one-on-one test that is administered by a psychologist that differs from a standardized test that a child would see in the classroom. The goal of the assessment is to develop a complete perspective of the child’s academic skills and cognitive abilities. It will determine how much a child has learned along with how they learn and go about solving problems.
In addition to determining how a child learns, these assessments can also provide a diagnosis of a learning disability, ADHD, or a developmental disability. It can also identify any other social, emotional, behavioural or psychological problems which can be diagnosed through further testing.
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Parents (and the child when appropriate) meet with the psychologist to discuss ongoing issues and determine if an assessment is reasonable and necessary.
The child is given various tests to assess their academic and reasoning skills, intellectual abilities, memory, attention, and executive functions. Testing duration is adjusted based on the child’s needs, but this step usually lasts between four and six hours.
Assessment of Social-Emotional and Behavioural Functioning
The psychologist gathers collateral and qualitative information that will allow them to better understand the child. This involves clinical interviews with parents, and providing questionnaires to the parents, teacher, and child to complete.
Report and Recommendations
The psychologist takes the test scores, insights gained from interviews, and questionnaire information, and compiles them into a comprehensive report for the parents. The report will also include recommendations for any accommodations the school needs to make to provide support, as well as at-home strategies for the parents to help the child there.
The parents (and the child when appropriate) meet with the psychologist to go over the results in the report. At this time, the psychologist will discuss the recommendations in more detail and answer any questions that the parents may have.
How a Psychoeducational Assessment is Conducted
Some private and public schools employ a psychologist who will conduct the assessment of a child. Other schools will bring in an outside psychologist to conduct the assessment. Regardless of whether the psychologist is employed by the school or not, they will need to be registered with the school, have university training in developmental psychology and experience working in a school setting.
A full psychoeducational assessment usually takes at least a full day to complete. This is the amount of time that the psychologist will need to administer all the necessary tests and observe the child’s behaviour and attention in a classroom setting. A full assessment is generally comprised of five parts.
Children Who May Need a Psychoeducational Assessment
Every child is different in terms of their abilities and needs. However, there are some signs a parent can look for that can indicate that the child may need a psychoeducational assessment.
- A child consistently studies hard but grades don’t reflect their effort.
- A child who is clearly intelligent, but can’t finish their homework and assignments on time due to procrastination or poor planning skills.
- A child whose report card shows that they need to pay more attention or stay focused in class.
- A child who presents with any behavioural or emotional problems related to school or home.
- A child who consistently doesn’t want to go to school.
- A child with good grades in all areas except for one or two like Math or English.
- A child whose parents think they would benefit from school accommodation.
When the Assessment Leads to Diagnosis
There is always a very real possibility that a psychoeducational assessment will lead to the diagnosis of a learning disability, ADHD or something else. When this happens in Ontario, the psychologist will discuss next steps with the parents at the feedback session. Afterwards, they will provide the report to the school. It is then up to the parents and the school to consult with one another to develop an individualized educational program (IEP) that will accommodate the child’s special needs and help them progress and succeed at school. Treatment from the psychologist will also be recommended so the child can learn more about their disability and ways to cope with and manage it.