Psychoeducational Assessments

By Sarah Husain, M.Ed., C.Psych | September 27th, 2021

What is a psychoeducational assessment?

A psychoeducational assessment is a series of specialized tests (like questions, vocabulary, puzzles, patterning, sequencing, memory tests, hand-eye coordination tests, and academic tests) that provide a detailed understanding of a person’s cognitive and academic skills. Cognitive skills refer to thinking, learning, problem solving, memory, attention / concentration, phonological processing, and processing speed. This is what people typically refer to as “IQ”. Academic skills are related to reading, writing, and math. Together, an understanding of these skills provides a profile of the learner, which outlines their strengths and weaknesses, conditions under which they learn and perform best, and situations and tasks they are likely to struggle with.

A psychoeducational assessment sometimes only evaluates cognitive and academic skills. However, if the assessment is more comprehensive, it can also evaluate a person’s social, emotional and behavioural functioning, such as problems with social skills, attention, executive functions, anxiety, emotional regulation, or sensory problems. This is usually done through observation of the child / person, talking to parents and teachers, and asking parents and teachers to complete questionnaires and observation forms.

Your psychologist will also review past information contained in report cards, medical documents, or past assessment reports, to find out how long problems have existed, and what supports have been tried so far.

At the end, a written report is provided, with all test results, diagnoses, and recommendations for home and school supports. You will meet with your psychologist to go over the results and talk about the recommendations.

At CASE Psychology we provide comprehensive psychoeducational assessments that examine all areas of functioning: cognitive, academic, social, emotional, and behaviour.

Who can benefit from a psychoeducational assessment?

Psychoeducational assessments can identify learning strengths and weaknesses, diagnose learning disabilities, giftedness and attention disorders, and can determine the most effective supports to help a child / person to be successful at school, and at home. These assessments are typically requested for school-age children, but can also be completed for adults.

A psychoeducational assessment should be considered if your child is not meeting grade-level expectations, is struggling with basic academic skills, is inattentive or has behaviour problems at school, or is working much harder than their peers to maintain their grades.

Common signs that a person may benefit from a psychoeducational assessment:

  • Problems with reading, comprehension, writing, spelling, or math
  • Slow and laborious printing, or writing refusal
  • Difficulty understanding and following directions
  • Poor memory or organization
  • Problems with language, communication, or social skills
  • Work refusal or fights at homework time
  • Can answer questions orally, but struggles to write them down
  • Discrepancies in performance e.g., does well with reading but struggles with math
  • Anxiety about school
  • Negative self-talk related to academic performance
  • Working much harder than peers to maintain grades
  • Working too slowly; needing extra time to process information or to complete tasks

What kinds of recommendations will be provided?

Psychoeducational assessments help provide clarity around learning problems by painting a picture of a person’s strengths and weaknesses. With this picture, educators can build on strengths, and provide support for weaknesses. Depending on the type of learning problem the child / person is experiencing, varying environmental supports may be suggested. Some examples are individual education plans (IEPs), differentiated instruction, specialized programs, extra time on tests, shortened assignments, additional learning support, assistive technology at school, social skills classes, or counselling support.

For adults, recommendations usually focus on learning accommodations in post-secondary settings, such as extra time on examinations, access to technology, or reduced course loads.

Reports will also include any diagnoses made (such as learning disabilities, giftedness, attention disorders, autism, or other developmental disorders) and specific recommendations that are relevant to the diagnosis.

In all cases, regardless of whether a diagnosis is provided or not, the assessment will result in clear recommendations and specific steps to improve the person’s success and confidence in educational settings.

What the psychoeducational assessment does not measure

Psychoeducational assessments measure the types of abilities that are most relevant and predictive of academic performance at school. They do not measure other abilities and characteristics that are also important predictors of success, such as discipline, motivation, persistence, emotional readiness, overall ‘grit’ and determination, curiosity, creativity, musical ability, athletic ability, etc. As such, although these results may predict academic performance at school, the results represent only a small snapshot of the person’s overall ability for success and happiness in life.

Things to consider about the psychoeducational assessment

Psychologists in private-practice do not require a doctor’s referral for a psychoeducational assessment. You can simply phone our clinic and self-refer. However, some insurance companies require a referral, so always check with your insurance provider first, to find out if they require a doctor’s referral for reimbursement.

Early intervention matters! An early assessment is useful for getting the right support in place. However, there are optimal age-ranges for different types of assessments and we are happy to discuss these further when you call us.

Psychological services are not covered by OHIP, but all or a portion of the fees may be covered by your extended health insurance – please check your insurance provider for your coverage.

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