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Psychological Educational Assessment

When school problems occur, whether at elementary, high school, or college level, one must carefully examine all aspects of the problem. A psychological educational assessment is frequently part of this process.

Such assessments attempt to measure the various workings of the brain and the "mind," which affect how we learn and function in school and life. The purpose of the assessment can be to identify a learning disability, determine the degree of developmental delay, identify weaknesses and strengths, assess giftedness, or to serve as a part of an overall problem-solving venture. 

Part of the assessment is a measure of learning potential or intellectual potential (IQ). This provides some idea of how well one could expect a person to function in situations ranging from basic social interactions to advanced academic study. Educational achievement in basic skills is also measured, using standardized tests. A comparison can then be made between a person's learning potential, or IQ, and their academic achievement.  In the final analysis, this comparison is only an interpretation or prediction, but it may help to inform decisions about the student's academic program, and may facilitate problem-solving at  school. In any event, my emphasis is upon options for intervention as dictated by the test results, anecdotal data and the aims of the client.
As a society we tend to think that how one functions in life and in school is, for the most part, the result of how "smart" we are. In my opinion, this is a very simplistic point of view. The environment, the ability to focus or concentrate, motivation, personal goals, and self-concept all affect the efficiency and quality of one's learning.  All of these factors should be considered when a psychological-educational assessment is made.

A psych-ed assessment is most often administered for one of two reasons: first, and most obvious, is to enable the psychologist to advise on the best way to improve the learning situation. The second and less obvious is to grant a designation of "learning disabled" in order to be given special consideration and accommodations in a course or an exam setting. (For example, students with a diagnosed written output disorder may be allowed to use a laptop computer in class and/or in an exam situation).

Whatever the educational level of the student, my first step in any assessment is a personal interview, in which the problems are defined and various options considered. If the student in question is an elementary or high school student, this interview would involve parents as well as the student. A psych-ed assessment may or may not be deemed appropriate following the interview, and is one of a number of ways we might choose to proceed.

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