In this article, Dr. Liz describes what to look for in your Psychological Evaluation when completed by your Child Study Team.
When it’s time for your child’s initial or triennial re-evaluation, the Psychological Evaluation is a great source of information for you and your Child Study Team (CST). This report provides an IQ, or intelligence quotient, that is an assessment of your child’s intellectual capability. This report, as well as your Educational Evaluation, is one of the two key reports that will inform you about your child’s academic program and supports to help your child access the curriculum in the best way possible.
The Psychological report is administered by a certified School Psychologist within the public school setting, or by a licensed Clinical Psychologist if completed independently or privately. You, as the parent, have the right to request this evaluation every 3 years or sooner, but no more than one time per year.
Also, review this memo from the Department of Education to Directors of Special Education (in New Jersey) dated May 14, 2012 in which there is clarification that if a parent requests an independent evaluation, the district can no longer state that the CST gets the first opportunity to evaluate. Instead, the evaluation will be provided by the district at no cost to the parent, unless the school district files for a due process hearing: http://www.nj.gov/education/specialed/memos/051412Evals.pdf
What are the types of Psychological Assessments that I may see within the Psychological Report?
Standardized tests are normed and provide a standard score and percentile rank. · Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, 4th edition (WISC-IV), ages 6 to 16 · Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence™ – Fourth Edition (WPPSI – IV), ages 2.5-7.5 · Stanford Binet, Fifth edition (SB5), ages 2-85 · Kauffman Assessment Battery for Children, 2nd edition (KABC), ages 3-18 · Woodcock Johnson Test of Achievement and Cognitive Ability, 3rd edition (WJ-III), ages 2-90 Rating scales are used to look at the presence or frequency of behaviors or skills based on the rater’s perception. The rater is someone who is familiar with the student, such as a teacher or parent, and often multiple raters are asked to complete it.
· Conner’s Rating Scale (used to assess ADHD symptoms)
· Behavior Assessment System for Children (BASC)
· Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales
Self-Report Scales are given to the student in order to rate his skill or behavior. The student is often older and able to rate herself.
· Pier’s Harris Children’s Self Concept Scale, 2nd edition
· Conner’s Rating Scale
· Behavior Assessment System for Children (BASC)
The Psychologist also uses observations of the student within the classroom in order to gain information about behavior, social skills, and attention and focus. Within the report, there will be a description or summary of what took place as well as interactions with peers and the classroom teacher. The report may also include information gained from teacher observations regarding specific areas of functioning (e.g., organization, homework completion, study habits, etc).
Another source of information is the interview. The Psychologist meets with the student and asks questions about peer relationships, home, teachers, and preferences.
What type of information should I look for within the Psychological Report?
A good Psychological Report contains the following sections
· The Primary Purpose of Assessment – why the student is being tested at this time. For example, due to initial evaluation to determine eligibility for special education and related services, or due to triennial re-evaluation to determine continued eligibility.
· Background Information – a summary, gained from student interview, regarding student’s hobbies, likes and dislikes in school, social relationships, family, etc.
· List of assessments or procedures used – for example, the WISC-IV, observation, teacher feedback, student interview.
· Report and Interpretation of test results – a summary of how your child performed on the standardized tests, findings of the rating scales and self-report scales with a discussion of what these results mean as related to academic performance
· Summary of test findings- a summary of all the findings. This is often the section that most people read first as it is brief and relates back to the primary purpose of assessment.
· Recommendations –a list of accommodations such as instructional modifications (e.g., preferential seating) and movement or sensory breaks
The report provided by your CST School Psychologist will not contain any diagnoses, whereas an independent or private evaluation will. Additionally, the report provided by your School Psychologist will not indicate eligibility as this is determined by the IEP team.
As you can see, the Psychological Report is a great source of information about your child’s abilities and weaknesses that will guide you in determining the type of program needed as well as accommodations to help your child succeed in school.
Dr. Liz Matheis is a clinical psychologist and school psychologist in Parsippany, NJ who provides assessment, psychotherapy, consulting, and advocacy for children and families managing autism spectrum disorders, ADHD and learning disabilities (www.psychconsult.weebly.com). She is also a contributor to several popular press magazines