What is a psychoeducational evaluation?
A psychoeducational evaluation is conducted similarly to a psychological evaluation, with the added component of an academic focus. Professionals trained in psychoeducational evaluation, also called assessment or testing, look specifically at how a child or adolescent’s emotions and behaviors affect academic functioning. For example, perhaps the evaluation shows that a child is experiencing depression, which is significantly impacting the child’s ability to concentrate and complete school work. In this situation, it is very important to make recommendations not only for the child’s psychological well-being, which might include therapy and/or medication, but also to include recommendations that will help the child succeed academically. In addition to psychological functioning, the psychologist will evaluate cognitive and academic functioning. Cognitive functioning is often referred to as “IQ”, although the most important part of the assessment is actually not a number. Rather, the focus is on learning how the child processes information, approaches problems, changes between tasks, is able to hold information in memory, and handles frustration. Often patterns of strengths and weaknesses will emerge, which assists the psychologist with diagnosis, but more importantly, with making recommendations for intervention and support. A comprehensive evaluation that assesses all of these components helps the psychologist determine whether the child shows evidence of a learning disability, emotional concerns, developmental delays, or a combination of these challenges.
Who is qualified to conduct a psychoeducational evaluation?
A licensed specialist in school psychology (LSSP) or licensed psychologist with training in this area is qualified to conduct the evaluation. Unless the LSSP is also a licensed psychologist, he or she must be supervised by a licensed psychologist when working outside of schools in the state of Texas. A professional who has had experience working in schools has the advantage of understanding special education law; how to consult with administrators, teachers, and other school professionals; how to conduct assessments that meet requirements of schools; and the types of recommendations that parents and schools will find useful. Not only can an LSSP conduct a comprehensive evaluation, he or she can help parents understand how that evaluation might be utilized by the child’s school.