Educational Assessments – What, When and How?

What are educational assessments?

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Educational assessments are a tool to be used during the process of aiding a student in understanding their academic strengths and challenges. The benefit of an educational assessment is that they can assist teachers, parents, tutors, etc to help students reach their potential and achieve their goals.

Once completed an educational assessment is used to determine any areas of challenge that a student can focus on, as well as the best ways to approach and overcome those challenges.

When is an Educational Assessment needed?

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The reasons for undertaking an educational assessment are many and varied. It can be because of a recommendation from a teacher or tutor, a referral from a doctor, a parent’s desire to support their child’s learning, or the student themselves wanting to know how to improve their performance.

However Dr Kate Jacobs, director and principal psychologist at Raise the Bar Psychology, points out that it is important to know the reasons behind someone wanting an educational assessment, as this often provides the aim for the assessment. Knowing what questions are trying to be answered and what the desired outcome of the assessment is can be an excellent guide to what type of assessment is actually required. Some examples of common referral questions include:

  • Why is my child finding learning so hard?
  • How can we best support our child with their learning?
  • Does my child have a learning disability?
  • What are my child’s learning strengths and difficulties?
  • Is my child being academically challenged at school?

How does an educational assessment work?

Although there can be variations from person to person, depending on their requirements, the typical process of an educational assessment is:

  • Referral: This can come from a teacher, tutor, doctor, parent or even the student themselves
  • Intake: The intake interview can involve just the parents, or sometimes both the parents and the student and gives the opportunity to discuss the students history, define the reasons for assessment, explain the process and answer any queries
  • Interviews with others: This step in the process is for the psychologist to speak with other relevant people involved such as teachers, school counsellors, paediatricians, etc so as to get a good understanding of the student in their various environments
  • Academic Achievement Testing: This step assesses the student’s current abilities in a number of subskills involved in reading, writing and maths in order to identify exactly where any challenges lie
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  • Cognitive Ability Testing: Cognitive abilities are brain-based skills that we need to carry out tasks, and this step of the process assesses how a student learns, remembers, solves problems and pays attention in order to determine the best way for them to learn going forward
  • Assessment of Non-Cognitive Factors: This step allows for recognising how a student thinks and feels, and if there are any behavioural factors affecting their learning potential
  • Feedback/Report: This is the culmination of the assessment process and involves a face-to-face feedback session along with a written report where the results of the assessment are explained with recommendations for intervention and/or support
  • Follow Up: This is the final stage of the assessment process and can involve reviewing the progress of any implemented recommendations, submitting applications for funding or special consideration, and check-ups on emotional and behavioural functioning

When administered correctly and for the right reasons, educational assessments can be an incredibly helpful instrument within the academic scope of a student’s career. For

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more information on educational assessments or to enquire about availability please call Raise the Bar Psychology on 1300 785 662.