People may seek a psychological assessment for many reasons; learning, behaviour, injury, health, emotional problems or development concerns to name just a few. A psycho-educational or educational assessment is simply one kind of psychological assessment. For example, an educational assessment investigates learning potential and academic skill development. A psychological assessment of any kind must be completed by a licensed psychologist or psychological associate who is registered with the College of Psychologists in their province.
In simple terms, during an educational assessment a psychologist must determine a person’s abilities and then see if their academic achievement is at a comparable level. It is common sense to predict that a person with an average intelligence will complete math, spelling, reading, writing and other academic tasks within the average range. A psychologist will find out whether a client’s academic performance is equal to their intelligence using testing, clinical observation and statistical analysis.
OK, what happens if you have an average intelligence but some academic area is far weaker than predicted? Now, comes the interesting part…. What is keeping the individual from performing at their level of intelligence? It could be problems with visual or verbal memory. It could be that their brain cannot track and scan written text as quickly as most people. Perhaps they have been told they don’t pay attention but actually their brain cannot process verbal information as efficiently as other people. Alternatively, a person may find it extremely difficult to begin a task, plan and organize and, monitor their performance as they work along. The truth is there are many reasons that a person is not meeting the cognitive potential they were born with.
Why would a person need an educational assessment?
The answers to this question are fairly simple. An educational assessment completed by a qualified psychologist or psychological associate could formally establish a need for an academic program at school that is specifically tailored to the student’s learning style. If you know a person’s potential for learning and their present level of achievement, you know the academic strengths and needs of that student at that moment. The truth of the matter is that a school psychologist is often the key to understanding the foundation of the student’s difficulties as well as holding the position of gate-keeper to special services and academic support within a public school system.
When will I know if I, or my child, need an educational assessment?
Sometimes delays in some areas of development are obvious very early. For example, if your child is developing language or fine motor skills more slowly than other children, he may need an educational assessment at some point. If he has difficulty following directions or routines at home or daycare you may consider watching his development more carefully. If your child begins school and experiences difficulty learning numbers, the alphabet, days of the week, colours and shapes, maintain close contact with his teacher to monitor his progress. If your child seems extremely restless, easily distracted and/or has trouble interacting with peers it is possible that he has some attentional or behavioural problems that may require assessment at a later stage.
Perhaps a parent has noticed their child is struggling at school. Often, it is a teacher who has alerted a parent that their child has been experiencing difficulty working at the same level as other children in their class even though they are trying their best. At times, it is the child who goes to the teacher or parent and lets them know that they are finding school work very difficult. Crying over homework, repeatedly asking a teacher to go over the same work, signs of low self-esteem because they fear they are “not smart” are all signs that a child’s academic performance should be monitored.