The Educational Assessment
Referral for an Educational Assessment is recommended when a child’s academic performance is below grade level. The areas of concern would include reading, written language and Mathematics. These difficulties may be as a result of one or a combination of the following factors:
- low self esteem and poor risk taking;
- inattentiveness, distractability, impulsivity and a short concentration span;
- difficulty with effective cognitive and executive function;
- under-developed language skills;
- limited recall of information;
- delay in Working Memory;
- poor visual and auditory processing skills.
In an Educational Assessment, the following areas are assessed in order to identify individual strengths and weaknesses, with the view to informing intervention that is best suited to a child’s learning style:
- Receptive Language (Listening Comprehension);
- Reading: accuracy; rate; oral and silent comprehension; non-word reading;
- Written Expression
Specific skills assessed in Receptive Language tests include knowledge of vocabulary; recall of facts; understanding the main idea; use of inference; recall of a sequence of events; understanding cause and effect.
A rounded assessment of reading will include: accuracy; word recognition; use of contextual or language cues; use of pictorial cues; word attack skills; rate of reading; expression and fluency; use of punctuation; self correction and other reading behaviours like omissions or approximations. Comprehension skills include the ability to follow directions, make comparisons, classify and sort information, predict outcomes and locate salient information.
Written Expression assessments involves evaluating the child’s ability to plan and develop a story, use expressive vocabulary, construct grammatically correct sentences and demonstrate thematic maturity (e.g. humour and character development).
Poor spelling is often an indication for an Educational Assessment as it is apparent to teachers and parents that a child has some barriers to learning. Spelling assessments look at the child’s ability to apply the skills of analysis and synthesis to build phonetically regular words. The tests explore the use of visual memory to revisualise irregular words correctly, adherence to spelling rules and conventions, the use of syllabification as a strategy, knowledge of prefixes and suffixes and the ability to spell in context, not just in weekly word lists learned for tests.
Mathematics can be an area of challenge when a child has literacy difficulties, but not always. An assessment will determine the child’s understanding of age appropriate mathematical concepts; application of computation skills and concepts in problem-solving; recall of basic facts relating to shape, time, measurement and quantity; interpretation of mathematical concepts.
An educator trained to assess in standardised assessments will assess for phonological processing mastery (rhyming, alliteration, naming speed, non-word reading, spoonerisms); visual memory of words; visual discrimination of words. Screening assessments can be applied to determine the child’s risk for reading failure or Dyslexia.
The specialist educator will assemble an individual test battery for each child. These are age appropriate and are applied dynamically. The findings of the assessment are discussed in consultation with other members of the multi-disciplinary team. The results may support or expand on other test findings by relating health professionals and can be used to assess for school placement or for intervention strategies and programmes.