What Is A Diagnostic Assessment?
A diagnostic, or psychoeducational, assessment consists of the administration and interpretation of a battery of tests. The battery of tests usually consists of educationally related psychological tests and educational tests, including tests of intelligence and cognitive abilities, achievement tests, and tests of behavior and attention. The following is a summary of the types of tests psychologists administer at Groves Academy.
Groves Academy gratefully acknowledges Dr. Sherry Mee Bell from the University of Tennessee, whose writings on psychoeducational assessments were invaluable to the creation of this document.
Tests of Cognitive Ability
Tests of cognitive ability, formerly known as intelligence tests or IQ tests, typically consist of a series of subtests that measure various qualities such as factual knowledge, short-term memory, abstract reasoning and visual-spatial abilities. Cognitive abilities are those abilities that influence the acquisition and application of knowledge in problem solving. The most cognitive ability tests in use are the Wechsler Intelligence Scales, which can be administered to people between the ages of 16-89. There are also child and preschool versions of these scales. Such scales produce a variety of data, including:
• Full-scale intelligence quotient (IQ): overall, composite measure of intelligence
• Verbal comprehension
• Perceptual reasoning
• Working memory
• Processing speed
Psychologists at Groves Academy use a variety of intelligence scales to measure cognitive ability, including:
• Wechsler Intelligence Scales
• Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children
• Woodcock Johnson Tests of Cognitive Ability
• Tests of Nonverbal Intelligence
• Scholastic Abilities Test for Adults
Learning disabilities are often associated with weaknesses in the areas of auditory processing, phonemic awareness, processing speed, short-term memory, and long-term retrieval. Psychologists at Groves Academy select and administer a combination of tests, including cognitive ability tests, such as the Wechsler, along with additional measures such as the Woodcock-Johnson and other batteries. Analysis of the results from these tests provide Groves psychologists with an understanding of the student’s relative strengths and weaknesses as well as the implications for the most effective approaches to improve the student’s learning process.
Tests of Educational or Academic Achievement
Educational testing is an important component of a diagnostic assessment, and can rule out or diagnose a variety of learning disabilities. In addition, attention problems are often related to achievement problems. In most cases, poor achievement is what triggers the referral for assessment.
Learning disabilities are evident in a pattern of scores representing unevenness in intellectual and academic abilities and skills. While all people have some strengths and weaknesses (e.g., stronger in quantitative than verbal skills), a person with learning disabilities has significant variability in both cognitive and academic abilities. The most common example is reading disabilities, which are usually associated with deficits in auditory processing, processing speed, and/or phonemic awareness. The essential component, however, is unexpectedly weak reading skills.
Most individual achievement tests are designed for ages spanning preschool through high school, and cover the basic academic areas of reading, mathematics, and written language. Sometimes oral language is also assessed.
In ruling out learning disabilities, it is important to thoroughly assess each area of suspected disability or difficulty. In addition, some assessment in the area(s) of suspected strength is useful in making comparisons and determining patterns of strength and weakness.
Because reading disabilities are the most common type of learning disability and because problems in phonological skills are common in almost 90% of all reading disabilities, it is critical to obtain a measure of phonetic decoding or word-attack skills. Psychologists at Groves administer a variety of reading tests to measure phonological abilities including the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement, the Gray Oral Reading Test, the Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing and the Test of Reading Comprehension.
Tests and Ratings of Attention
If attention problems are indicated in the student’s history, interview, and/or assessment, psychologists at Groves Academy can evaluate the student’s hyperactivity-impulsivity and inattentiveness. Although there is no single test for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), there are several behavior rating scales and computerized screenings of attention.
Psychologists at Groves Academy use the following measures:
• Behavior Ratings
• Behavior Assessment System for Children
• Conners’ Parent Rating Scale
• Conners’ Adult ADHD Rating Scales
• Computerized Screenings
• Conners’ Continuous Performance Test, ages 6-adult
Psychologists at Groves Academy will provide parents and guardians with a summary of all assessment procedures, including tests administered. These include any and all formal and informal tests, questionnaires, and any other assessments to be performed by the psychologist. Assessment procedures are determined by the reason for the assessment and by data gathered during assessment.