Assessment: The Basics

January 26, 2018

Many people come to me with basic questions about assessment.  As is true with much of childhood, psychology and education, I find there is often unnecessary complication taking place with regard to assessment and many other related issues.

Parents will share previous assessments that have been completed.  Sometimes they are upward of 30-40 pages!  Much of it is uninterpretable or meaningless to the parent (yet looks impressive in its overall weight) and they feel bewildered by it all.

 

As I thumb through the reports, I often quietly (sometimes not too quietly) wonder if the parents’ basic questions  were even answered that led them to seek the assessment.

What got me thinking about this for this week’s blog was a mom’s who was interested in having her child assessed.  She emailed me a range of very in-depth questions of the cognitive and neuropsychological processes that she hoped might be revealed or commented on within the assessment.

I didn’t want to disappoint her, but this is what I said with regard to the questions raised:

Hi Mary Beth

In some ways the question you are asking about testing is over-complicating in terms of the goals that I have. In somewhat simplified terms, the psychoeducational assessment provides us with a “snapshot” in a moment of time as to where your child is in terms of her development in key areas of cognitive, academic and emotional functioning.  The “snapshot” is a great starting point in understanding your child’s strengths and weaknesses.

Beyond that, there are basic questions that are typically raised when conducting a psychoeducational assessment.  Are there any identifiable “cracks in the foundation” that need to be understood or addressed going forward?   What are your next best steps in terms of helping her if there are identifiable cracks? Is the school a good fit for her? (The parents were considering private school.)  Are there any other treatments or interventions that make sense given the assessment?

Assessment should be a practical vehicle, a springboard if you will, that can help guide you in terms of your child’s areas of need.  Ideally the generated report should be practical and fairly straight-forward in conveying the findings in as much jargon-free language as possible.  That is you should understand the report and what the numbers mean.  (“Hey, I see a score of 7 in Similarities in my child’s assessment.  What does that mean?  Is it good or bad?”)

In the next couple of weeks I will elaborate upon the fundamental questions and issues being raised in a psychoeducational assessment process to try and demystify it for you.

Takeaway Point

More complicated, more pages and more expensive is not necessarily better in an assessment for you child.

Stay focused on the basic questions.

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Homework (and School) Hidden AgendaAssessment Basics – Part II

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