What is "testing", anyway?

by Richard Brancaccio January 13, 2017

What is "testing", anyway?

Testing: What the heck does that even mean?

A very common question we hear in the field of psychology is, "What does it mean to have my child '˜tested'?" Here is the quick and easy breakdown: Testing, or a "Psychoeducational Assessment", as it's properly called is an assortment of formal and informal assessments compiled into one report, known as a "Psychoeducational Report", or a "˜Psych Report", for short. "Testing" usually consists of two major parts, Cognitive and Educational, and is sometimes supplemented by smaller, more specific assessments.

The two main components are:

A.      Cognitive testing, which is essentially an IQ test (a real IQ test, not the variety on Google or in a magazine); it indicates a child's level of cognitive proficiency, usually compared to peers and represented in a type of score called a Standard Score, with the help of a Percentile Rank.  The general purpose is to determine a child's overall cognitive ability level.

B.      Educational testing, which examines fundamental academic skills commonly utilized in a school setting, including Reading, Writing and yes, everyone's favorite, Math.  This type of testing generally utilizes the same score types as the aforementioned cognitive measures.

There are also supplementary assessments, which can include specialized behavior rating scales (for things like attention, anxiety, adaptive functioning, autism symptomology, etc.), as well as visual-motor assessments, and various checklists and observation tools. Specialized assessments, such as the ADOS-2 (for autism) are also utilized in various cases.

Testing is usually only conducted in schools for determining eligibility for special education or to gather unknown data while reevaluating a child who is already served under special education.  It is not guaranteed and is determined to take place by a team of educational professionals and the parents/caretakers, collectively known as an IEP team.

I'd like to mention that all of the blogs I write are based on my own personal experiences and opinions and do not reflect the opinion of any school system or professional organization. It is also important to realize that I am not an attorney and this does not constitute any sort of legal advice. For legal questions, seek a reputable lawyer specializing in educational law. For medical questions, seek a reputable mental health professional.

Richard Brancaccio
Richard Brancaccio


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