FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHAT IS A PSYCHOEDUCATIONAL ASSESSMENT?
Psychoeducational testing identifies the strengths and challenges of an individual in areas such as learning, behaviour, attention, and social-emotional development. The goals of psychoeducational testing are to:
Better understand a student’s intellectual and academic strengths and challenges.
Determine the reasons why the student may be experiencing learning difficulties.
Consider what academic supports would best help the student learn effectively. With school accommodations or modifications, students can often achieve closer to their true potential.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF PSYCHOEDUCATIONAL TESTING?
Psychoeducational testing helps identify a student’s current intellectual and academic functioning so school staff can develop an appropriate learning plan. Psychoeducational testing can also aid in detecting conditions that may affect learning, such as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Learning Disabilities, and other behavioural and socio-emotional concerns, such as anxiety and depression. Students who experience academic difficulties are prone to frustration, low self-esteem, and behavioural issues with long-term implications, which is why timely diagnosis and interventions are essential.
WHAT DOES PSYCHOEDUCATIONAL TESTING INVOLVE?
Psychoeducational testing is a comprehensive process that usually involves several components:
Parents are asked to complete a developmental history form with questions regarding their child’s early development, school history, social and emotional functioning, attention, behaviour, family, and medical history. The psychologist may call parents to discuss these details further.
REVIEW OF SCHOOL RECORDS
A review of school records, including report cards, academic work samples, and previous assessment reports, is conducted. In addition, parent and teacher rating scales may be used to obtain a formal measure of the student’s functioning in the home and school settings.
DIRECT TESTING WITH THE CHILD
Several hours of direct testing with the student will be conducted. This can take place over the course of one day or across several days. During the testing, a range of standardized tests is administered. These tests are designed to examine different aspects of intellectual functioning, language, memory, phonological skills, visual and motor skills, attention, and academic achievement (e.g., reading, writing, and math).
A feedback session is held to review psychoeducational testing results.
A written report is provided to that summarizes the psychoeducational testing information and recommendations.
The ultimate goal is to use the information gained from psychoeducational testing to make practical recommendations that can help students address their relative weaknesses, build on their strengths, and improve their academic performance. The recommendations are based on a student’s unique profile of strengths, challenges, and learning style. They can target academic programming (e.g., reading remediation), behavioural programming (e.g., strategies to improve attention/focus), and/or social-emotional functioning (e.g., anxiety management strategies, strategies to foster self-esteem in the school setting).
Other types of recommendations may include school accommodations, such as extended time, shortening or modifying the format of assignments, breaking large tasks into smaller ones, and using assistive technology (e.g., computer, noise cancellation headphones). In addition to educational recommendations, recommendations for further testing or other services may be appropriate (e.g., medical testing, psychological counselling, or therapy).
As a parent, psychoeducational testing may seem like an intimidating process. While it is certainly intensive, the information obtained about a student’s learning-related strengths and weaknesses is invaluable in helping them reach their full academic potential.
WHAT SHOULD I TELL MY CHILD ABOUT THE ASSESSMENT PROCESS?
It is important to approach psychological assessments from a positive and strengths-based perspective. You may want to explain to your child that they will be meeting with a psychologist to complete different activities that help them and the psychologist figure out how best they learn. Some of us learn best through listening and reading, while others learn best by watching others or working with their hands to create something. With the activities that your child will complete, there are no right or wrong answers, because it is about how your child uniquely learns and processes information. For more information, please refer to Talking With Your Child About Assessments.