Test scores may obscure the process behind the child's test-taking behavior and obscure the truth of the child's functioning instead of revealing it.
For example, compare two children of average intelligence who obtain standard scores of 95 on a reading decoding test. Both children scored within the average range and both children are functioning within the expected range, given their measured abilities. However, the process by which each child obtained his score was dramatically different!
One child was an extremely slow and laborious reader who had to read and reread each word in order to decode it. The other child was a very fast and efficient reader who was able to easily and fluently decode. Although the scores were identical in numerical value, the process by which each child accomplished the task was critical to understanding how each child reads.
Reporting qualitative data in addition to quantitative data in an evaluation is called "process assessment." How the child obtains test scores is just as critical, if not more critical, than the actual test scores themselves. Therefore, both qualitative and quantitative information is essential in the compilation of the psychoeducational evaluation report.
Psychoeducational evaluations generally contain measures of aptitude and ability, including tests of intelligence and other cognitive functions; neuropsychological functioning; speech and language; visual-spatial perception; visual-motor integration; achievement; attention and concentration; and career/vocational aptitude for children over the age of fourteen.
Evaluations usually include measures of typical performance, where the examiner asks the child to be honest. Examples of tests of typical performance include tests of social and emotional functioning; personality questionnaires; measures of career/vocational interest for children over the age of fourteen; projective tests; and self-esteem inventories.
Cognitive testing is accomplished with standardized IQ tests. Various intelligence tests measure different constructs and different aspects of information processing. This is one reason why IQ test scores can differ dramatically from one test to another.
Scores obtained on tests of maximum performance, such as IQ tests, may be depressed by the very disorder that is adversely affecting the child's academic achievement. Therefore, it may be necessary to give a battery of cognitive or tests during the evaluation, rather than one test of IQ, to obtain a valid and reliable appraisal of the child's cognitive functioning status.
The Wechsler intelligence tests for preschool and primary children, school-age children, and adults are used as primary tests to ascertain cognitive ability. Wechsler test batteries are not only excellent predictors of academic achievement, but also contain rich information for process assessment psychologists to tease out the child's strengths and weaknesses and to ascertain the subtle variables that influence the child's learning.
However, children with serious language-based learning problems may have very depressed scores on Wechsler batteries and may require additional testing of cognitive functions to better understand their aptitude for learning.
The Stanford Binet Intelligence Scale-Fourth Edition, Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test and The Test of Non-Verbal Intelligence-3 may also be used to assess the child's intelligence, although brief measures of intelligence should never be used in isolation.
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