What is a Psychoeducational Assessment?
By Dr. Marina Heifetz, C.Psych
Every person learns differently, and that is why when there are some academic challenges for students at school, teachers and parents may wonder what may be helpful for these students. A psychoeducational assessment may be recommended to better understand a student’s strengths and challenges. This assessment is conducted by a psychologist or a psychometrist (supervised by a psychologist), who is trained to consider the “whole” picture during the assessment (e.g., medical and family history, social behaviour, developmental concerns). The psychoeducational assessment examines numerous areas of functioning, which include intellectual, academic, attention and executive functioning skills, memory, and socio-emotional functioning. Families can access psychoeducational assessments either through the schools or, when needed quicker, at independent psychology clinics in the community.
This process is a long one (on average about 6-7 hours of in-person testing) as this type of assessment is comprehensive and involves numerous standardized assessment instruments to closely examine these different areas. Although tasks vary by age, typically the assessment involves various paper-pencil tasks, oral responses, and visual-spatial activities (e.g., drawing, block designs). Below is a visual summary of the typical steps taken to help break down this long (and often confusing) process.
Ultimately, the end goal of psychoeducational assessments is to help support the child at school by providing appropriate and tailored recommendations based on the child’s strengths. By putting all of the comprehensive information together (think puzzle pieces), the child may (or may not) receive a diagnosis based on the assessment. From there, school is able to adapt the recommendations to provide individual supports for the child throughout the school years.
Bottom line: a psychoeducational assessment helps greatly in understanding the child and why they may be struggling academically (or otherwise). By identifying the specific strengths and difficulties of a child, appropriate supports and interventions may be implemented to help the child thrive in school and beyond!