Psychological Assessment

What is a Cognitive Assessment?

Cognitive or IQ assessment uses a series of activities to help identify a child’s specific learning style, strengths and areas of need. The information obtained helps generate specific recommendations for teachers and parents, to help them meet the learning needs of the child.

The learning profile generated by a cognitive assessment provides important information about a child, both educationally and behaviourally. The assessment generates an IQ score, which is an estimate of the child’s general cognitive ability and academic potential. Observations during testing increase understanding of how a child approaches tasks, solves problems, and reacts to failure and praise.

What is a Psycho-Educational Assessment?

A psycho-educational assessment builds on a cognitive assessment, by including a standardised test of academic achievement. An assessment of the child’s emotion and behaviour is also included, to provide a comprehensive assessment.

What are Cognitive and Psycho-Educational Assessments used for?

In general, a cognitive assessment can be used to:

  • Gain a detailed and comprehensive understanding of the child’s strengths, preferred learning style (e.g. verbal vs. visual), and learning needs.
  • Assess and identify giftedness.
  • Assess and understand fluctuations in concentration and attention levels.

A psycho-educational assessment can be used to:

  •  Determine if a child is reaching their learning potential.
  • Assist in the diagnosis of specific learning disorders (SLD) or behavioural problems (e.g. language disorders, attention disorders).
  • Develop appropriate recommendations and methods of intervention to help the child reach their academic potential.
  • Indicate whether a further referral should be made to a relevant specialist, such as an Occupational Therapist or Speech Therapist

Structure of the Assessment

The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-IV) is one of the most reliable and valid IQ testing instruments available for school-aged children (6-16 years).  The test assesses four domains of cognitive functioning: Verbal Comprehension, Non-Verbal (Perceptual) Reasoning, Working Memory and Processing Speed. A child’s performance in these four areas is summarised by the IQ score. The profile of scores across the four subscales provides information on cognitive strengths and weaknesses.

Results of the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT-II) are commonly compared to the WISC-IV to provide an ability-achievement comparison, which forms the basis of a psycho-educational assessment. The WIAT-II measures academic achievement through nine sub-tests: Oral Expression, Listening Comprehension, Written Expression, Spelling, Pseudoword Decoding, Word Reading, Reading Comprehension, Numerical Operations and Maths Reasoning.

How are results calculated?

Scores from each of the subtests are converted to a ‘normed’ score, based on the child’s age. This allows for comparison of the child’s abilities to a large sample of same-aged peers.

How are the results provided?

A comprehensive written report is provided, including background information, developmental history, previous assessments, prior interventions and observations of the child. Results are provided in numerous formats including ability range (e.g. low average, average, high average), percentile rank, and age level of performance. Details are provided about how the child performed on each subtest, and how that relates to their preferred learning style. Recommendations are provided for teachers and parents which focus on using the child’s identified strengths to support their areas of need. A feedback session is held to verbally report the results and recommendations.

The Assessment Process

Assessments will usually take place at the child’s school, in an environment which is familiar to them. An interview of the parents will be conducted to gather relevant background information about the child’s developmental and educational history. Parents and teachers will be asked to complete questionnaires about the child’s emotional and behavioural functioning. Where age appropriate, the child will complete a similar questionnaire with the help of the psychologist. Administration of the WISC-IV and WIAT-II will take up to 2 hours each, and will be scheduled over 2-4 sessions, depending on the attention ability and motivation level of the child.

For younger children, a brief period of time will be taken to establish rapport with child before commencing the assessment, so that they feel more at ease during the testing session. A short break is normally taken in the middle of the testing session, or if the child appears to be tiring.

The cost of an assessment will depend on the presenting issue and which tests are administered. Please contact Dr Kate Jackson for more information

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