What is a “Psych-Ed” Assessment? – Burnaby School Psychologists

What is a “Psych-Ed” Assessment?

A psychological-educational assessment (often called “psych-ed”) is a formal assessment designed to identify a student’s learning strengths and needs. It then provides recommendations for planning supports and accommodations that will help the student to do their best.

What kinds of things are in a Psych-ed Assessment?

A psych-ed assessment usually includes some of the following: observation of the student and/or review of the student’s school file, medical and developmental history, testing of cognitive ability (“IQ” testing), academic achievement, behavior, and social-emotional factors. If available, information from other assessments, such as Speech and Language or Occupational Therapy assessments, or medical diagnoses may be mentioned in the report. All of the information helps with understanding the child and the difficulties they may be having at school.

How long does the Psych-ed take to complete?

The psych-ed process usually takes 20 or more hours of a school psychologist’s time to complete. Not all of this is the time needed with the student. It also includes meetings with school staff and parents prior to beginning the assessment, time to review the school file and other information, writing the report, and explaining the results to the parents and school staff.

What happens after the parents agree and give consent for the assessment?

Once informed consent (see Details Regarding Informed Consent) has been obtained, the school psychologist will work with the school to schedule the assessment. The actual assessment will take place within the school during school hours in a private setting, such as an office or small room. Often the actual assessment, where the student will be asked to do a variety of things such as answering questions, looking at pictures or doing some academic task, requires two or more sessions. This is to ensure that the student does not get overly tired or lose interest in the assessment.

Why is making the student feel comfortable so important?

During the assessment, the school psychologist tries to make the student feel comfortable with the school psychologist and assessment environment (this is called “establishing rapport”), and will structure the assessment sessions as needed such as allowing for breaks or altering the length of sessions.

The goal is to get a good sample of how the child thinks and learns, without interference of distractions, including physical and emotional health. If the child is unwell or overly tired on the day of the assessment, it is better to postpone and reschedule the assessment for when the child feels their best. Occasionally the school psychologist may postpone or discontinue testing for a variety of reasons including a student’s high anxiety level, reluctance to engage in the assessment or follow the instructions, or unforeseen circumstance. We want the student to be able to do their very best, in order to get the most reliable results.

What happens after the assessment is completed?

Upon completion of the assessment, a written report will detail the results of the assessment, including any diagnoses that may result, recommendations for further assessment from community-based sources, and recommendations for the school to try with the student.  This report will be shared in a meeting with the parents/guardians and school staff who work with the student.  After it is shared, a copy of the report will be placed in the student’s confidential school file, and an electronic copy will be stored on the school district’s secure database. Parents also receive one or more copies. The information gathered in the assessment is confidential and only available to school district personnel, unless required by law. The school is only allowed to share information with others outside of the school district when parents/guardians provide written consent to do so.

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