What is psychoeducational assessment?
Psychoeducational assessments are designed to identify a student’s strengths and weaknesses, evaluate his or her achievement level, identify possible learning disabilities, and make recommendations, as needed, for academic supports and accommodations that will allow the student to succeed in school to the best of his or her ability. The process is often referred to as psychoeducational testing or psychoeducational evaluation.
Psychoeducational assessments are the basis for establishing the following:
- ADHD diagnosis
- Learning disability diagnosis
- Standardized test accommodations
- Individualized education program (IEPs)
- 504 plans
Who might benefit from this type of assessment?
Psychological assessment provides great insight into personality, behavior, and ability. Information in these areas can be especially helpful for individuals struggling with academics, work, motivation, anxiety, depression, or other concerns about mental processing and cognitive functioning.
Many clients come to us because they, or a loved one, is struggling in school and believe they may qualify for special accommodations in the classroom or on standardized tests. Others are looking for help understanding problems with anxiety or depression, seeking understanding about their abilities for career guidance, or are referred by a psychologist or psychiatrist for a diagnosis clarification or treatment recommendation. If you are wondering whether psychological assessment may be helpful for you, we are happy to discuss the possible benefits with you.
What kind of testing does this involve?
The tests utilized depend on the needs of the individual client. Many clients find it useful to first undergo a preliminary screening to see if a full psychoeducational assessment makes sense for them. Learn more about the preliminary screening process.
Our tests for learning disabilities are designed on an individual basis depending on background, history, and the intended use of the report (e.g., certain schools or organizations may require specific tests). However, a typical test for learning disability consists of a combination of intelligence tests (which provide information on an individual’s verbal and nonverbal/performance abilities, such as perceptual reasoning and processing speed) and achievement tests (which provide information on an individual’s academic skills, such as reading, math, writing, and oral language). Together, these tests allow us to identify discrepancies between ability and achievement in order to gain a complete understanding of an individual’s strengths and weaknesses and identify possible learning disabilities (such as dyslexia or auditory and visual processing disorders).
ADHD testing includes a full intelligence test, a test of academic achievement, an assessment of executive function (i.e., planning, organization, problem solving, and decision-making), a test of sensorimotor skills, tests of attention and performance, and a personality inventory. Together, these tests provide a complete picture of the source of any attentional issues.
When our tests indicate that a student is eligible for standardized test accommodations, we work with you to provide the necessary documentation and remain available during the accommodation approval process.
What is a learning disability?
A learning disability is a neurological disorder, often characterized by difficulties in specific areas of learning, such as reading, writing, and spelling. A learning disability cannot be “cured,” however, the right interventions and accommodations can provide the space for individuals with learning disabilities to thrive and succeed.
Though each individual is different, examples of common learning disabilities identified through assessment are:
- Dyslexia (Difficulty with reading)
- Dyscalculia (Difficulty with math)
- Dysgraphia (Difficulty with writing)
- Auditory Processing Disorder
- Language Processing Disorder
- Non-Verbal Learning Disabilities
- Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficits
What is ADHD?
ADHD is a common childhood disorder that can continue into adolescence and adulthood. Symptoms of ADHD include difficulty paying attention and maintaining focus, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. There are three subtypes of ADHD, namely: Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive; Predominantly Inattentive; Combined Hyperactive-Impulsive and Inattentive. Our testing process will provide, clarify, or confirm a specific diagnosis from these subtypes, if applicable.
What are standardized test accommodations and what documentation do you need to apply for them?
Students with certain documented disabilities are eligible for accommodations on College Board exams, including the SAT, SAT Subject Tests, PSAT/NMSQT, PSAT 10, and AP Exams. Typical accommodations include extended time, use of a computer for essays, extra/extended breaks, and other accommodations. Read more information from the College Board on accommodations.
The College Board requires documentation that shows: diagnosis of the disability, the student’s functional limitation, and the need for the accommodation being requested. According to the College Board, students looking for special accommodations on standardized tests must:
- Have a documented disability
- Be affected by this disability in their participation in the College Board exam
- Demonstrate need for the accommodation
- Receive the accommodation in their school exams
The College Board lists seven criteria for acceptable documentation. Read more from the College Board on documentation.
- The diagnosis is clearly stated.
- Information is current.
- Educational, developmental, and medical history is presented.
- The diagnosis is supported.
- The functional limitation is described.
- Recommended accommodations are justified.
- Evaluators professional credentials are established.
When our tests demonstrate that a student should qualify for these accommodations we ensure that you receive the necessary documentation and work with you until the accommodations have been approved.
Want to learn more?
We recommend the following online resources:
- LD Online: The Educator’s Guide to Learning Disabilities and ADHD
- Understood.org: For Learning and Attention Issues
- Learning Disabilities Association of America: Types of Learning Disabilities
- Helpguide.org: A Trusted Nonprofit Guide to Mental Health and Well-Being – ADD/ADHD Tests and Diagnosis
- Mayo Clinic: Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Children
- ADDA: Attention Deficit Disorder Association – Adult ADHD Test
Standardized test accommodations: