Every person is different. Every human brain is different. All brains have parts that don’t work as well as others, and other brains have parts that don’t work very well at all. For all children, it is important to determine what these strengths and weaknesses are so that they can be taught well and receive the appropriate accommodations and support for academic and life success.
One of the ways to do this is with a psychoeducational assessment. Unlike standardized testing usually provided in the school setting, a psychoeducational assessment is one-on-one and uses a variety of tools to develop a complete perspective of your child’s academic skills and cognitive abilities. It is important to determine not just how much your child has learned, but how he/she learns and goes about the task of solving problems.
Psychoeducational assessments are conducted by a registered school psychologist and in addition to showing how a child learns, can provide a diagnosis of a learning disability, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), developmental disability, and identify any other social/emotional/behavioural or psychological problems.
The most important result of a psychoeducational assessment are the comprehensive recommendations for home and school.
How to Get a Psychoeducational Assessment
Some private and public schools have their own school psychologist who will do a psychoeducational assessment of your child. Other schools may refer to an outside psychologist who will provide the assessment at a set fee or hourly rate. It is important to note that only a registered school psychologist with university training in developmental psychology and experience working in a school setting can conduct a psychoeducational assessment. The full examination will usually take at least a full day to complete, which allows the psychologist to administer all the necessary tests and to observe your child’s behaviour and attention as it would be during a school day.
A comprehensive psychoeducational assessment is typically comprised of five parts:
1) Initial Consultation: During an initial screening interview, the parents (and student when appropriate) will meet with a registered school psychologist to discuss any ongoing issues and determine if a psychoeducational assessment is reasonable and necessary.
2) Psychometric Testing: The student will then be given various tests to assess his/her academic and reasoning skills, intellectual abilities, memory, attention, and executive functions. The testing duration will be adjusted to your child’s individual needs, but will typically last four to six hours.
3) Assessment of Social-Emotional and Behavioural Functioning: This part of the assessment involves gathering collateral and qualitative information that would allow the psychologist to better understand your child. Clinical interviews with parents are conducted and questionnaires are given to the parents, teacher and student to complete.
4) Report and Recommendations: Scored test results, interview insights, and questionnaire information is developed into a comprehensive report for parents. The report will also include recommendations for any necessary school accommodations and at-home support strategies.
5) Feedback Session with Psychologist: The parents (and student when appropriate) will meet with the psychologist to go over the report. At this time, the psychologist will discuss the recommendations and answer any questions that parents may have.
Does Your Child Need a Psychoeducational Assessment?
Every child is different in terms of their needs and abilities, but here are some of the signs that your child may need a psychoeducational assessment:
- If your child consistently studies hard but the marks don’t reflect his/her effort
- If your child is clearly intelligent but, because of procrastination and poor planning skills, cannot deliver their homework or assignments on time
- If your child’s teacher notes in his/her report card that they need to pay more attention or stay more focused in class
- If your child presents with any behavioural or emotional problems related to school or home
- If your child consistently doesn’t want or doesn’t like to go to school
- If your child’s marks are good in all areas except one or two, such as Math or English
- If you think your child would benefit from school accommodations