Types Of Psychological Assessments And Evaluations (page 2)
There are many different types of psychological assessments, depending on the nature of the problem to be evaluated, such as:
- Intellectual functioning
- Academic skills
- Executive functions, information processing, and memory
- Social-emotional or behavioral development
We will focus on each of these different areas in greater detail over the next few chapters, so the present description will be very brief. Intelligence tests provide a broad estimate of a child's ability and a profile of strengths and weaknesses. Assessments of achievement will focus on the child's academic levels relative to his or her age and grade expectations. Often a comparison of ability and achievement can be very helpful in evaluating differences between performance and expectations. Any significant differences between ability and achievement are a signal that further assessment may be required to investigate possible barriers to success. Additional evaluation may include an investigation of potential processing problems (attention, memory, visual motor problems, organization, and so forth) or social-emotional or behavioral problems, or both.
In addition to academic concerns and processing problems, some children may demonstrate disruptive behaviors or act out in the classroom. In this case, assessment may be requested to determine the nature of the behavioral problem( s). A key question to address is: What is causing this child to act out?
Other more subtle emotional problems may also be evident, such as a child's withdrawal from social contact due to poor social skills, anxiety, or depression. Although a child's externalizing behaviors (acting out, aggression, or disruptive behavior) are far more obvious and readily observable than possible internalizing problems (anxiety or depression), finding out the reason that a child is experiencing emotional or behavioral difficulties is often a daunting task for the school psychologist.
Rarely are the answers obvious, and the psychologist is often required to include several steps in the evaluation process such as meeting with the child, observing the child in the classroom (or on the playground), meeting with the child's teachers (present and past), and talking to the parents.
Different Types of Assessments and Different Assessment Instruments
Parents and teachers should become familiar with the different types of tests that professionals use and what each of these instruments measures. Increasing your knowledge in this area will not only help you to better understand the child's assessment results, but will also provide a better understanding of how the child learns compared to other children. Understanding the assessments will also help you to become more prepared and aware of what questions to ask the school psychologist. In the next few chapters, we will provide information concerning some of the more well-known assessment instruments that are frequently used by school psychologists.
Goals of the Psychological Assessment
School psychologists rely on standardized tests, which means that the tests have specific instructions as to how they are to be administered and have established norms (expected ranges of scores) based on previous administrations of the test to a wide range of children across the United States. Using these tests allows the school psychologist to compare a student's performance with a large number of children of similar ages.
It is always advisable that more than one assessment instrument (referred to as a battery of psychological tests) be included as part of the assessment, and that information about the child be obtained from different sources (such as parents and teachers). In this way, the school psychologist can determine whether the problem is evident in more than one area (all or some academic areas, behavior, social-emotional difficulties) and whether the problem exists across situations (home and school), or only occurs in one situation, such as in school but not at home.
In addition to formal norm-referenced tests, school psychologists also obtain information through less formal methods, including observations (in the classroom, on the playground, or test-taking behaviors); interviews (with parents and teachers); reviewing school records; and engaging the child in activities such as asking the child to bring a classroom reader to the assessment session and read from it.
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