Month: August 2019

Assessment Revisited – Part I

It’s that time of year – the  time when we sense the summer fading and the press of the school year.

With the start of the school year, many of you are considering having your child assessed, but not really sure what is involved or what is its purpose.

As is true with much of childhood, psychology and education, I find there are often unnecessary complications taking place with regard to assessment and many other related issues.

Sometimes a previous assessment has been completed and parents will share previous reports.   Often the reports are uninterpretable or meaningless to the parents (yet may look impressive in their number of pages) 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 in ways they could understand.

What got me thinking about this was a mom who was interested in having her child assessed.  She emailed me a range of in-depth questions  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:

            In some ways, the questions you are asking about assessment are over-complicating in terms of the goals that I have when I assess a child. In       somewhat simplified terms, the psychoeducational assessment provides 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 starting point in understanding your child’s strengths and weaknesses and what you should do next.  I call it “next-step thinking.”

         Beyond that, there are basic questions that are typically raised when conducting a psychoeducational assessment.  

         What I am asking is whether there any identifiable “cracks in the foundation” (i.e., weaknesses or deficits) that need to be understood or addressed going forward?  

         Beyond identifying the basic cracks, we are considering what are the next best steps in terms of helping your child?   Are there any treatments or interventions that make sense given the assessment? Are there alternative school choices? (The mom was considering a private school for her daughter.)

Ideally, an assessment should be a practical vehicle, a springboard that can help guide you in terms of your child’s areas of identified needs.  The report generated  from the assessment 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.  (e.g., “Hey, I see a score of 7 in Similarities in my child’s assessment.  What does that mean?  Is that good or bad?”)

In the next few posts I will elaborate upon the fundamental questions and issues being raised in a psychoeducational assessment process to try and demystify them further for you.

Takeaway Points

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

Stay focused on the basic questions and what is important in an assessment.

More to follow in coming blog posts.


Copyright, 2019
Questions or topics email Dr. Selznick.  Not in the South Jersey area? For a free 15 Minute Consultation, contact Dr. Selznick: email –

To purchase a signed copy of  “What To Do About Dyslexia: 25 Essential Concepts” & Dr. Selznick’s other books and to receive blog updates go to

Dog With a Bone


You know the expression, “He’s like a dog with a bone.”

That’s how I feel sometimes in this business.

One of the bones that I chew on repetitively and just can’t shake is the notion of the “IQ” being one of the primary reasons a struggling child is not given what he/she needs.

I think I already have about five different blog posts on the subject over the years, so here we go again.


A while ago on this topic I referred to my “GQ (i.e., Grumpiness Quotient)” skyrocketing.  To illustrate why my GQ rises with this issue, let’s look at two different children:

Child A, a seven year old second grader, Keith, is below average in reading (15%ile in word reading skills, oral reading fluency, spelling and writing). Upon being tested in school, Keith obtained an IQ of 107 (68th percentile, but still in the average range). In addition, the school assessed Keith with a bunch of subtests that assessed his “phonological processing,” all of which clustered around the 20th percentile.

In short, Keith was struggling and he needed a lot of support and remediation. Keith was found to be eligible for special education services and started receiving small group remedial instruction.

Child B, Mick, age 7, a classmate of Keith’s, is in the exact same level of reading as Keith (15th% ile).    In contrast, though, Mick received an IQ of 87, placing him at the 19th %ile, or what I call the “Zone of no Zone” when it comes to IQ scores.  Phonological processing issues similar to Keith’s were also found.

A closer look at Mick’s IQ profile showed that he demonstrated above average functioning in nonverbal intelligence (65th %ile).   Compromised by weaknesses in active working memory, processing speed and language functioning,  Mick’s FSIQ of 87 had much more variability than Keith’s.

Since there was so much variability, the score of 87 really was not representative of his legitimate ability or potential.  In a major domain of intelligence, Mick was solidly above average.

So, even though Mick and Keith were reading (and spelling and writing) at the same exact levels,  Keith was eligible for services,  but Mick was found to be ineligible for any remedial services.

Why?  Because his IQ was in the “Zone of No Zone.”

Mick’s parents were flabbergasted and at a total loss when they were told that he would not get any help.   They knew how agonizing completing work was for Mick and saw the struggling each grade.

When they asked the team what they should do for Mick, they basically said that there was nothing that they could so at this point and that perhaps they should call a physician (with implication of putting Mick on medication).

I see the Mick types all the time. They typically fall in the “Zone of No Zone,” that is between approximately the 15th to the 25%ile (IQ scores between 85 – 92, roughly).  With scores like that on the bell-shaped curve  in the “Zone” it is very difficult to get a big enough statistical discrepancy for the team to find the child eligible for services.

If I had my way (which I almost never do),  the FSIQ would be secondary, essentially ignored in a situation like Mick’s.  He demonstrated at least average ability in a major domain of cognitive functioning.  He needs help.

If a child is drowning how do we not throw him a life preserver?

Takeaway Point
I’m going back to my bone to gnaw on.

Maybe it will help reduce my Grumpiness Quotient (GQ).  Maybe for comfort I will listen to the real life Mick and Keith.

Copyright, 2019
Questions or topics email Dr. Selznick.  Not in the South Jersey area? For a free 15 Minute Consultation, contact Dr. Selznick: email –

To purchase a signed copy of  “What To Do About Dyslexia: 25 Essential Concepts” & Dr. Selznick’s other books and to receive blog updates go to

“A Neurologist? She Doesn’t Need a Spinal”

While reviewing her concerns to me regarding her 9-year-old daughter, a mom said to me, “They keep telling me I should go see a neurologist?  What for?  She doesn’t need a spinal?”

I have to admit, when the mom said that I “LOL’d.”

She was 100% correct.

Troubled  by the fact that her daughter was not making any progress with reading (and spelling and writing), the mom could not contain her irritation.  She had heard the neurologist recommendation a number of times and it pushed her over the edge.

“What’s that going to do?” the mom continued.    “Neurologists don’t test for reading problems,” the mom rightly stated.

“I have seen my daughter struggle since kindergarten. I keep hearing the same things over and over. Here are some of the best hits….”

-“She’s so sweet.”  (We know that, but she can’ read spell or write.)-“Spelling doesn’t matter – she can use spell check. “ (Really?  So if I spell “gress” for “dress” that’s ok?)

 -“The only thing that matters is comprehension.”  (What about the fact that she reads “sinal” for “signal?”)

 -“Writing is a creative process.  It doesn’t matter that her sentences are not complete or  are fragments.”  (So, after she wrote, “Wen I was a babe win I frst wet to the puk,” is ok for “When I was a baby we first went to the park,” is acceptable?)

The mom continued.

“I knew my daughter was having trouble in kindergarten, but I kept getting pushed off?  That was when I repeatedly heard how sweet she was.”

“So I kept my mouth shut and tried to not get in the way, but first grade and second grade were horrible.  Where was everyone each night when my daughter was melting down being asked to read worksheets and math word problems (in second grade) that she couldn’t read?”

“By the middle of third grade, they decided to test her for special education.  In April of third grade she was given an IEP.  April of third grade!!!!  So, that means it’s really not until fourth grade that they begin to do something!”

“In the IEP meeting I was told that she would get in-class support.  In-class support???   What does that mean?  So, if my kid is drowning while the other kids are swimming, they put a lifeguard in the pool.  How about teaching her how to swim?”

“So, beside in-class support, I should see a neurologist.  You know what that means?  That’s code language for, ‘We really don’t know what to do with her, but maybe the doctor will put her on medication and call her ADHD.’”

“So what if we put her on medication? What then?  Will stimulants instantly have her reading better?  I don’t think so.”

I basically sat back and went for the ride.

There was very little in what the mom was saying that I thought was out of line or exaggerated.

Her frustration was understandable.

Takeaway Point

Maybe I can book this mom to go on a national speaking tour with me.

I’m ready for the ride!

Copyright, 2019
Questions or topics email Dr. Selznick.  Not in the South Jersey area? For a free 15 Minute Consultation, contact Dr. Selznick: email –

To purchase a signed copy of  “What To Do About Dyslexia: 25 Essential Concepts” & Dr. Selznick’s other books and to receive blog updates go to


Latest Posts