Learning Disability Testing
Learning Disability Testing at Equilibria
When children or adults are having difficulty in school or work with learning based activities, they often benefit from an analysis of their strengths and weaknesses to help develop more effective learning strategies. To assist in this analysis, Equilibria offers comprehensive psychoeducational assessment (sometimes referred to as educational testing, academic testing, or learning disorder testing) services conducted by a certified school and/or a clinical psychologist. This type of testing often focuses on one or more of the following areas: academic, work related, intellectual, emotional, attention and concentration, and sensory-motor.
Some reasons why someone would seek psychoeducational testing include:
- Learning disabilities and disorders
- Giftedness testing
- Accommodation testing
- ADHD or ADD testing
- Autism spectrum disorder testing
- Entrance into enrichment programs
- Appropriate academic settings
- Special accommodations
- School readiness
- School admission
- Intellectual functioning
- Career or college guidance
- Vocational testing
School Psychologists Conducting Academic Assessments
Dr. Gail Reichman-Mancini, Psy.D
Dr. Mancini completed her doctorate in clinical psychology from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, where her research included a specialty in the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of bipolar disorder. She has been conducting comprehensive psychoeducational evaluations as well as overall treatment of children since 1987. In addition to providing school psychology, Dr. Mancini contributed to the standardization of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scales-III and the Wechsler Memory Scales-III.
Karen Taratuski, Psy.D.
Following Dr. Taratuski’s undergraduate work, she began her career as a Music Therapist, which led to her returning to graduate school to pursue her doctorate in clinical psychology. Dr. Taratuksi has always focused primarily on children, adolescent, and families. She spent many years working in public school as both a school psychologist as well as a special services administrator and she wholeheartedly values the importance of testing in order to get a better understanding of the child’s needs.
Learning Disability Testing Process
Although all evaluations are tailored to meet our client’s needs, there are some standard processes that occur during a psychoeducational evaluation. Some of the steps include:
If you are calling to schedule an appointment for learning disability testing, we will be asking you questions to discern the purpose of the testing and to ensure we are helping to set you up with the appropriate psychologist in our office who has expertise in the area you are looking to assess.
On occasion, we may have the psychologist speak directly with you to gather more information and ensure that you are comfortable with the person doing the testing.
Comprehensive Clinical Interview
Incredibly valuable information is gathered during a comprehensive clinical interview including
- Personal and childhood history
- Family history and current functioning
- Medical history and current functioning
- Developmental history
- Mental health history and current functioning
- Educational and work history and current functioning
- Relationship/social history and current functioning
- Substance use history and current functioning
- Legal history and current functioning
- Recent experiences that are impacting current functioning
- Other pertinent information related to psychological testing
When the testing is for a child, interviews are conducted not only with the child but with the child’s caregivers and sometimes with other individuals important to the child’s current functioning (e.g., teachers, other caretakers).
Often the psychologist who is doing the learning disability testing will ask that the client bring in any relevant documents that they feel would be helpful for the psychologist to see to have a comprehensive understanding of the issues at hand (e.g., work records, school records, medical records, legal records).
In general, clinical interviews are more open and less structured than formal testing because this part of the evaluation allows for the client to convey information and experiences in their own words. The clinical interview usually occurs at the beginning of the psychological assessment or testing in order to establish a good understanding of a person’s history and recent experiences that are bringing them in for the evaluation.
There are a number of different psychological tests that can be administered during the course of an evaluation. Psychological tests are designed to assess an aspect of a person’s knowledge, skill, personality, intelligence, learning style, achievement, or a certain behavior.
Some tests are norm-referenced and some tests are non-norm referenced.
Normed-Referenced Psychological Tests
These psychological tests provide information for how the person being tested measures compared to other individuals who have taken the test before and are included in the norming sample. This provides, as much as possible, a comparison between test takers. Some examples of normed tests include:
- IQ tests
- Achievement tests
- Personality tests (e.g., MMPI, MCMI)
- Attention and concentration tests
- Neuropsychological tests
Non-Norm-Referenced Psychological Tests
In addition to the standardized, norm-referenced tests, psychologists may choose to administer one or more non-normed referenced tests, which are designed to measure a person’s level of functioning in the areas covered by the test. These tests can provide a wealth of information to the psychologist doing the evaluation. Some examples may include:
- Behavioral checklists
- Symptom checklists
- Some projective tests
Learning Disability Test Observations
Sometimes, especially with young children, a psychologist will request to observe the individual being tested in a natural setting like a classroom. This observation can be incredibly valuable to the psychologist because it allows them to understand the person in different contexts. For example, when evaluating a child, the psychologist may want to see if the child behaves differently at school than at home, or assess how the child behaves around his/her peers, or find out if the child is treated differently than other students in the classroom.
This kind of information can enrich the assessment and help the evaluator get a well-rounded picture of the person being assessed and allow for very targeted treatment recommendations.
Learning Disability Test Report and Feedback
Once all the information is gathered, the psychologist creates a comprehensive and integrated assessment of the individual, usually creating a thorough report with recommendations. Some of these recommendations will be home-based recommendations and others will be academic or vocational based. This information is also communicated via a feedback session with the client. With permission from the client (or guardian), feedback may also be given to a school, college (for a college-aged student) or vocational setting (if it is for an adult).
A psychoeducational assessment is never focused on a single test score or number. Every person has a range of competencies that can be evaluated through a number of methods. A psychologist is there to evaluate the competencies as well as the limitations of the person, and report on them in an objective but helpful manner.
After a Learning Disability Test
Following the learning disability test, recommendations are then made with all the information gathered in order to provide the adult or child, parents, and school with specific strategies tailored to the adult’s/child’s individual learning needs and/or behavioral issues.
When to Undergo a Learning Disability Test
Typically, when there is evidence that a child/adolescent is having a hard time learning to read, write, perform math skills, concentrate and focus, understand spoken language, or express him/herself, a psychologist will want to assess whether or not a learning disability exists.
At Equilibria, our therapists perform comprehensive psychoeducational or learning disability testing to rule out or rule in a learning disability and any other issues that may be contributing to learning issues. We also provide individual therapy to help children and teens learn to leverage their learning strengths.