Perhaps one of the biggest challenges faced by educators is how best to teach students who present with learning problems. These students seem bright enough, but can't seem to keep pace with the rest of their class in key areas. Obtaining a profile of a student's learning strengths and weaknesses through professional assessment is essential to understand how best to teach such a student. Numerous research studies have shown that educational interventions based on credible, reliable assessments are most beneficial to the student.
Below are some examples of cases appropriate for referral by educators:
Case I: The "Underachieving" Child
Perhaps most frustrating to parents and teachers alike is the child or adolescent who consistently performs below his or her ability level. Often labeled as "lazy" or "unmotivated", these students in reality often have learning issues which prevent them from performing in the classroom as fully as possible. A psychoeducational battery will help greatly in understanding these students, and in planning appropriate interventions. Many times the issue is not one of motivation but of a processing difficulty which can be addressed in educational therapy.
Case II: The "Inconsistent" Child
Teachers and parents are often puzzled by children and adolescents who perform competently one day but seem to forget everything the next. The basis for this inconsistency can be many things: distractibility, long or short term memory, or emotional concerns are the likely culprits. Psychoeducational assessment can help adults in the child's life to intervene to improve the child's consistency, thereby improving the child's confidence in their own abilities.
Case III: The "Perfectionist"
A child or adolescent who insists on having every "i" dotted and every "t" crossed often expends so much effort on details that the bigger picture is missed. As a result, project deadlines are missed, and grades suffer as a result. Sometimes, perfectionists have difficulty understanding abstract concepts and feel "safer" sticking to concrete details. A psychoeducational battery , including observation by a competent psychologist, will help distinguish this learning issue from a more emotionally based personality issue such as anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Case IV: The "Distractible" Child
Almost all educators have experienced students who have difficulty focusing on instruction or assignments, and perform academic tasks without much thought or planning. These students are often out of their seats and easily distracted in the classroom. A complete psychoeducational and/or neuropsychological assessment will help to determine if there is an underlying processing problem, attention deficit disorder, or both.
Case V: The "Social Outcast"
Socially alone children and adolescents are at great risk for academic failure and psychological problems later in life. These students are excluded from their peers for many reasons, including poor performance in the classroom. It is well documented that students who have nonverbal learning disabilities often have poor social skills due to their difficulties reading nonverbal cues, including body language. Intervention based on a sound psychoeducational assessment can help educators target resources in the most effective way, be it social skills training, educational therapy, or both.
Case VI: The "Homework Hater"
Nightly homework battles in some families can be detrimental to a child's school functioning as well as the family's emotional environment. Children with unrecognized or poorly understood learning difficulties often feel great frustration when doing homework at home; a frustration shared by their parents who don't understand why the student is having so much trouble. Often, these students try hard on their homework to please their parents and teachers, but soon give up because the work requires so much effort. A psychoeducational battery can identify learning issues, allowing parents and teachers to help the child and improve the nightly homework experience.
When used judiciously, psychoeducational tests have high levels of diagnostic accuracy. For example, the reliability of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children III, used to measure cognitive strengths and weaknesses, ranges from an impressive .91 to .96. Accuracy is enhanced by observational expertise and through the psychologist developing the appropriate battery of tests to answer specific academic, social, and personality questions.
As a specialty clinic, BAPTA restricts its work to psychometric assessments and sets itself apart from the generalist psychologist by limiting its work to testing conducted by specialist examiners. This focus ensures that the highest levels of predictive accuracy are made available. State-of-the art neuro-psychological and psychological assessment, individualized interventions, and expert feedback to school and family, are the hallmark of BAPTA's excellence.
Psychological Testing Associates
Copyright 2002, Bay Area Psychological Testing Associates