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Understanding and Preparing Your Child for Psychoeducational Testing

What is psychoeducational testing? How can you prepare your child for it? Author and parent Kim Glenchur offers clear answers to your questions.

By Kim Glenchur

Having a child undergo assessment for learning disabilities is a complex and confusing process for most parents. Parents often wonder where to find clear information about psychoeducational testing - what the tests involve and how to understand and interpret the resulting test scores. In her book, Learning Disabilities from a Parent's Perspective, author and parent Kim Glenchur does an excellent job of "demystifying" the process of psychoeducational testing. Following is an excerpt from her book which clearly explains the testing process and how to prepare your child for testing.

What Is Psychoeducational Testing?

Psychology is the study of mental processes and behavior. Psychoeducational testing refers to the psychological tests used to analyze the mental processes underlying your child's educational performance. As part of the assessment, your child will undergo psychoeducational testing.

Numerous tests exist. Some are better than others. Because these tests will be used to determine the nature and severity of any underlying disorders, you should try to understand what these tests mean.

Preparing Your Child for Testing

Preparing your child for psychoeducational testing can reduce anxiety and encourage cooperation through the upcoming battery of tests. One practice is to introduce the discussion by the number of days as the child is old; if the child is eight years old, discuss the evaluation at least eight days in advance of the testing.1 Reassure your child that the reason for testing is to understand why school is a struggle despite hard work and attempts to do well. Explain that the tests will contain a variety of questions, puzzles, drawings, stories, and games; and that the tests are neither painful nor about whether the child is crazy. Most importantly, offer the child hope in that the evaluation should show adults how best to help. Be open and honest as much as possible.

The psychologist doing the testing should have been trained in managing children with a history of academic failure. Test administrators try to make children comfortable. Do not expect your child to be aware of his or her actual test performance; correct answers are not supposed to be given out in order to maintain the professional integrity of the test. What really matters is whether the child is putting his or her best effort into each test administered. Some tips:

  • Schedule the test sessions (there will be many) during the time of day when your child usually functions best. Try to retain your child's favorite classes or activities so that testing will not be a negative experience. Ensure that the child is well rested and not hungry. Take something along to do while you wait; stay in the area during the testing. My son felt better knowing that someone familiar was nearby whenever he was being tested even if he was familiar with the proceedings.
  • Your child will want to know about what will happen. Students should understand the roles of the professionals conducting the testing and the reason(s) for the assessment. If possible, visit the test site with your child before the first day of testing. When scheduling the assessment, you should be able to find out about the expected types of questions, testing methods, and the length of each session. The test administrator should explain all that the child needs to know in order to do the test. Your role is to get the child to the test site on time and in a condition to do the best work possible.
  • For many tests, observations of the student's behaviors are important. Tests of skills, for example, present increasingly difficult problems or tasks until the child fails three or more times. The test administrator will note the situations causing fatigue, inattention, frustration, or delayed responses. This is all part of the diagnostic process. Tell the child to do his or her best and not to be discouraged. The child should remain calm and collected during testing. The test administrator should permit breaks as needed.

Since the test results will affect the child's future, a child should be able to ask about the results and the impact of these results. The assessment period will be an anxious time for you as well.

Reprinted with permission from Kim Glenchur. All rights reserved.

Comments from readers

"I would like a list of Paris based testing centers. "
"Want some additional information, answers to questions, or support? Please consider joining and posting them at the 'Learning and Attention Difficulties' group found here at GS to receive to receive practical suggestions from parents who have faced similar challenges:"
"The difference between psychoeducational testing and neuropsychological testing actually has to do with the questions the evaluator is asking. Psychoeducational testing focuses on the ability to learn. Neuropsychological testing focuses on the neurological processes expressed in thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Sometimes the same tests are used, and sometimes different tests are used in the evaluations, depending on the questions asked. For example: a common psychoeducational testing question is 'Does this child have a learning disability?' A neuropsychological testing question might be, 'Has this child experienced brain damage?' Please feel free to email me if you have more questions."
"Can you explain the difference, if any, between psychoeducational testing and neuropsychological testing? Is the difference based upon which tests are used, and if so what would the tests be? Many thanks"