I think that one of the most fascinating things about human beings is that everyone’s brain is different. Each person’s brain has parts that don’t work as well as others and parts that work better than others. For parents and educators, it’s important to understand our students’ strengths and needs in order to guide our instruction, showcase talents, offer appropriate accommodations, and provide academic and personal support. In other words, in order to do well, our children and students need to be “known” for who they truly are.
There are many ways to appreciate an individual student; one of the best is through teacher observation. Teachers are experienced observers and understand students well. It makes good sense to listen to a teacher’s impressions and carefully consider their recommendations. In order to gather more knowledge, which will inform instruction, a teacher may suggest parents consider a psycho-educational evaluation. Even though a student has already been evaluated, a reevaluation can determine current student performance, whether the learning profile has changed and if the intervention plan needs tweaking.
For parents and teachers, perhaps the most important part of the evaluation is the Recommendations Section of the psych-ed evaluation. This is where the evaluator pulls together the test findings and uses the data to make recommendations for accommodations, outside services, academic support, technological intervention, and assistance with social issues. Frequently, evaluators suggest that parents read specific books. While all of this can be tremendously useful, the sheer length of this section may also be overwhelming! I know this first hand because when faced with one of these, myself, my first instinct was to ball up the report and shove it into a drawer! It’s A LOT! Luckily, I didn’t, but honestly, the temptation was real.
My best advice for parents who are getting their children evaluated is to clearly define what they hope to gain from the evaluation. Be sure you are getting what you asked for and that ALL of your questions have been addressed and answered. Ask for clarification if you don’t understand something and don’t be afraid to follow up after your meeting - don’t walk away frustrated with an unclear direction for implementation. Remember that we are all neuro-diverse in the way we learn, think and process information and our children can excel with the tools that a psycho-educational evaluation can provide.
Dr. Simon is a D.C.-based educator, tutor, learning coach, and advocate.
Watch our discussion with Dr. Simon here.
Resources: Sally Shaywitz, MD and Jonathan Shaywitz, MD, “Overcoming Dyslexia” Second Edition, Vantage Books, 2020 The Big Purple Blog Podcast, “Deciding on Educational Evaluation”, May 11, 2021 "The Facts: What is a Psychoeducational Evaluation and Why is it Valuable,” Mindprint Learning Blog, November 7, 2013