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.
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.
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