PSYCHOEDUCATIONAL TESTING INFORMATION
Full Battery, Not a Screening
Testing should be comprehensive and should provide data about all areas of a child’s functioning. We generally do not recommend evaluations that only screen for certain problems or that look at only some of the areas of a child’s performance.
Parent Interview and Information from School
The process of conducting the comprehensive evaluation begins with obtaining a detailed history of the child and family as well as about his/her current functioning in all areas. We will want to review any records or reports that have been conducted in the past. Typically, we speak with the child’s teacher on the phone and/or ask that the teacher complete a questionnaire or behavioral checklist.
The actual testing with the child is conducted in our office. Our goal is to obtain the best, most reliable and valid performance from the child. For that reason, we spend time making the child feel comfortable and to reduce any anxiety that he/she may be experiencing about the testing. Testing sessions last only as long as the child can tolerate and end when fatigue, or inattention or other factors would make it less productive to continue. We typically need from between two to four testing sessions of 45 to 75 minutes each.
The Tests that are Used
The tests that are used include a nationally standardized individually administered intelligence test. This test provides a great deal of information, not simply the child’s IQ score. We learn about the child’s reasoning, thinking and problem-solving skills based on his/her responses to both verbal questions and non-verbal tasks. Memory and processing speed are also important components of the IQ test.
Academic skills are also evaluated using a standardized, comprehensive assessment. We look at reading, including sight vocabulary, phonics and reading comprehension. The broader language arts skills are tested on sections requiring the child to complete spelling and writing tasks. Math computation and math reasoning are evaluated. A comparison of the IQ test results with the achievement test results gives us an important point of reference regarding the presence of a Learning Disability, dyslexia or other specific learning challenge.
Success in school requires many different skills. A comprehensive evaluation will also, therefore, evaluate the child’s level of these skills. These include visual-motor coordination, short-term memory, mental control and what are called “executive functions.” Executive functions are behavioral characteristics such as organization, frustration tolerance, attention span and other skills that affect a child’s performance.
Finally, the child’s personality attributes and emotional characteristics are assessed. The emotional component is a very important part of the testing because how a child feels can greatly affect his/her performance regardless of the scores on the other tests. This is accomplished through a variety of means including questionnaires, projective instruments and interviews with the child and family members.
Feedback Session and Report
After the testing is completed, a “feedback” session is scheduled with the parents during which the results are discussed. Parents are provided with information regarding the tests administered, the scores and an understanding of what all the scores mean. If the child meets the criteria for a diagnosis, this is explained in detail and we will take all the time needed for questions and discussion of these matters. The parents are also provided with a plan of action and appropriate recommendations designed to address the needs of the child. We generally suggest a follow up meeting with the child during which we discuss some of the test results with the child as well. This is done with the main goal of providing encouragement to the child, answering his/her questions in a way that is appropriate to the child’s developmental level.
Within two weeks of the feedback session, the parents are provided with a detailed written report that clearly describes the results of the evaluation and the recommendations. This report is confidential and is not released to the child’s school or to any other third party without written permission from the parents.
Most parents are aware that the child’s school district is required to test a child if requested to do so by the parents. This is done by the school district at no charge. Nevertheless, many parents choose to have the testing done privately. Unlike the school district, there is no waiting list at SRI for psycho-educational testing.
Health insurance plans generally do not cover psycho-educational testing because it is not considered a medical service and it is provided by the school district. Therefore, payment is an “out of pocket” expense and we can discuss the fees when you call. We have tried to keep fees affordable and we are willing to arrange a payment schedule.