FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT TESTING:
What can I expect from a psychoeducational evaluation?
The goal of the testing process is to measure aspects of cognitive processing and to examine how strengths and weaknesses in development of cognitive abilities affect learning in the areas of reading, math and writing. For example, difficulty in learning to read can be caused by many different cognitive weaknesses in areas such as memory, decoding skills, attention, visual processing difficulties or language difficulties. If a child's reading problem is related to difficulty with phonics, the intervention might be quite different from that used for a child with a reading weakness caused by a visual processing weakness. In this sense, a good diagnostic assessment can help to direct good educational intervention.
Is it possible to engage very young children in the testing process?
It is very possible to engage children as young as 3 in meaningful testing. The materials developed to test young children are made to be "kid friendly" and appealing to children. In addition, the "art" of the testing process is to pace the testing carefully and to be positive and enthusiastic in a way that makes the child comfortable and relaxed. The tests themselves are valid for young children, meaning that they are accurate in their ability to measure aspects of cognitive abilities or early academic achievement in this age group. Based on years of experience testing young children, it becomes easy to tell when you have appropriately engaged a child in the testing process and have valid results. That said, it is always best to test children when they are healthy and rested.
What accommodations can be made to the testing process based on my child's needs?
Although testing has certain procedures in place to make sure that it is administered in a standardized manner, it is also possible to adapt testing to an individual child's needs. This can be done by using elements of various tests to highlight a child's strengths and weaknesses. There are specialized tests such as the WISC-IV Integrated and the Wechsler Nonverbal Test of Intelligence which are developed to be used with children who have weaknesses in certain areas of development, in order to obtain valid measures of intelligence while adapting the testing to particular cognitive weaknesses. In addition, it is possible to use various reward systems during the evaluation to motivate a child and these systems can be used in a manner similar to what the child is used to in school. These accommodations, if indicated, are usually discussed during the intake meeting with the parents in order to adapt the evaluation to a particular child's individual needs.
Will I be helped to know how to use the test findings to help my child?
The value of a psychoeducational evaluation rests on having results that are easily understood by both parents and teachers, that direct educational intervention strategies and other interventions to support a child's development. To that end, the discussion of the test findings at the feedback meeting is an essential aspect of the testing process. By the end of that meeting, parents should fully understand the relationship between their child's cognitive abilities and academic achievement, should have explanations for questions that brought them for testing and should have a sense for next steps in educational planning to help their child in school and at home. The test report is organized to provide clear explanations of the findings and to make suggestions when appropriate for intervention strategies. Sometimes, additional formats will be used to summarize test results and recommendations for teachers in a simpler, more user friendly format.