If you or your child are having difficulty with learning or academic functioning, we need to look at what might be impacting these important areas. This involves looking at:
- academic skills
- executive functioning (ability to plan, strategize, organize etc)
- social/emotional factors
For example, learning may be impacted by attention deficits (ADHD) or a specific learning disability, such as a reading disorder. It could also be impacted by emotional factors, such as anxiety or depression. If there is a significant difference between scores on achievement tests (reading, math, written language) and what would normally be expected given your or your child's age, education, and intellectual ability, then there may be a learning disability. Only a comprehensive assessment can sort through all these factors.
Educational testing involves ‘standardized' tests, meaning they are based on the abilities of other people in the same age group. By comparing results to other people in the same age range, we can determine whether abilities are above or below what would normally be expected. Each test battery is carefully constructed so that it answers the referral question.
For individuals with a learning disability, ADD/ADHD, or a psychiatric diagnosis, the prospect of taking a test for admission to college, graduate school, or professional school can be daunting. The same applies to obtaining employment certification or licensing. Educational testing can help to establish what accommodations may be needed. Given that each college or testing board may have different criteria for testing, it is important to work with a professional who is familiar with (and capable of administering) a wide variety of tests, or is familiar with those required by the testing boards (e.g. SAT, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT, USMLE etc).
I have experience working with many exam and licensing boards and work closely with each client to ensure that the correct tests and procedures are used when requesting accommodations.
TYPICAL TESTS AND THE DOMAINS THEY COVER INCLUDE:
Aptitude tests measure intellectual ability, also known as IQ. Sometimes, people have average or high IQ but still struggle in school. They may feel smart in some areas but ‘dumb’ in others. They may understand what needs to be learned but find it hard to demonstrate their knowledge on tests. Aptitude tests include the Wechsler Intelligence Scales, which measure verbal and visual reasoning abilities, working memory, processing speed and other cognitive functions.
These tests measure academic skills such as reading, oral and written expression, and mathematics. They explore how an individual manages in each area, both with basic skills and higher level reasoning abilities. Tests include, among others, the Woodcock Johnson Tests of Achievement, the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test, and the Nelson Denny Reading Test.
learning and memory
Various measures are used to assess both verbal and visual learning abilities and memory. They include the Wechsler Memory Scale, Children’s Memory Scale, and California Verbal Learning Test.
Neuropsychological tests, such as the Delis-Kaplan Executive Function System, are used to measure higher order thinking skills, such as planning, attention, cognitive flexibility, problem-solving, and inhibition.
Social and Emotional Functioning
The ability to perform well academically can be impacted by a variety of psychological and emotional factors, such as depression, anxiety, perfectionism, obsessiveness, and interpersonal issues. Often, individuals struggling with problems in school or at work can experience disappointment, sadness, increased stress, frustration, and even anger issues. Emotional measures can be administered to help understand whether these factors are contributing to the academic problem or, perhaps, stem from it.