My Child Has Had all This Testing - I Still Don't Know What it Means!
First, I want to start by saying that if you overwhelemd by your child’s testing data - this is NOT your fault. So often parents come to us feeling frustrated or upset that they just don't understand all the testing and data that has been provided. This isn't because of you - it's not your wheelhouse, and that is ABSOLUTELY, 100% okay.
There are so many tests that tell us so many different things and it can be so hard to interpret all of it. We have a printable for you that should hopefully help make some of these tests and their purpose a bit more easy to understand. What is important to know is that the number of assessments out there sometimes feel endless, so this list isn't exhaustive but should give you a starting ground.
Typically learning disability or IEP Eligibility assessments provide testing in each of these areas:
Language, Cognitive, Academic, Social/Emotional, and Motor Functioning
These assessments are typically provided by a combination of professionals including a speech-language pathologist, a special education teacher, a school psychologist, and an occupational therapist.
These tests usually utilize Standardized Scores. Check out our blog on Interpreting the IEP data to learn more about how to interpret Standard Scores.
is designed to understand how well your child is understanding the information provided in class and how well they are able to communicate back their understanding of the material. If your child scored at less than the 16th percentile on any measures performed by the speech language pathologist, you should ask how those difficulties will be addressed. Accommodations and modifications are great but they don't close the skill gap so it's essential to find out what supports your child will receive from the speech language pathologist or what you can do at home or with a private therapist to help close the gap.
is designed to understand your child's underlying ability to complete academic tasks. These scores set the benchmark for what we can expect performance-wise. If your child scores at less than the 16th percentile on the Full Scale IQ of a cognitive measure it will be important to talk to the school about how your child will be supported. Students falling at less than the 16th percentile often need a modified curriculum that helps make connections between concepts and focuses only on the key concepts. Accommodations and modifications are often one of the best routes for supporting a student in this area.
is designed to understand your child's current academic abilities relative to other students across the nation. These tests are typically administered by the special education teacher. Students can qualify for services under reading, writing, or math and so it's important to take a look at your child's performance across each of those domains. Students falling at less than the 16th percentile in any academic area (especially reading or writing since those impact every other academic area) will have a hard time keeping up in class. Accommodations or modifications here can definitely help but again, don't close the skill gap so it's again essential to find out what supports your child will receive from the special education teacher or what you can do privately to help close the gap.
is designed to help you understand how your child is managing social situations and how he or she is regulating themselves emotionally. Typically these tests rely heavily on parent and teacher report until about age 12 where they will then often pull in a student's self-reflection as well. These tests often use a different scale than many of the other tests so it's important to get clarification on those test scores to understand what further support may be necessary. Often schools will have social groups, or opportunities for students to meet in other small groups to discuss their feelings and frustrations. For students displaying elevated risk factors for anxiety, depression, and other emotional difficulties it's highly recommended that you make sure there is a plan in place at school and that you are putting together a plan in place for how to support your child at home. In some cases hiring an outside professional to talk through social and emotional concerns is extremely helpful.
is designed to determine if there are any motor difficulties (such as handwriting, typing, walking, or other movement based activities) that are impacting your child's academic performance. Clearly if a child is unable to sit up appropriately, hold a pencil, use their fingers in controlled movements to type - it could have a profound impact on academics. Many of these tests have the same Standardized Scale as Language, Cognitive, and Academic tests but many do not. Therefore, it is important that you ask for a range of what's considered typical for a student of your child's age. If they are significantly lacking in motor functioning you will want to find out what supports your child will receive from the Occupational Therapist or what supports you can put in place at home to support your child.
The bottom line is....
that these tests can be difficult to interpret because they all use different numeric scales and have different purposes. Sometimes they throw Norm-Referenced assessments alongside Curriculum-Based Measurements and it gets even more difficult to understand.
As stated above, sometimes accommodations are a great way to support your student and help level the playing field for them. If you want to learn more about accommodations, check out our blog: How Do You Determine Which Accommodatiosn are Best?
We are happy to help you understand your child's evaluation results whether done through the school or another professional. Give us a call or click here to set up a time to discuss any questions you may have so you can go into your next meeting prepared!