Understanding Psychological Assessments and Academic Testing
Educational psychological assessment is a formal procedure undertaken individually between a psychologist and a child (or any person). After building up rapport and making the child comfortable, the psychologist will administer a test to the child.
There are many tests that can be administered so I will just introduce and explain the most commonly used tests. First, though, it is necessary to discuss some general principles of testing.
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Tests do not tell anyone anything! They do however yield data and information that must be intelligently consumed by the qualified assessor.
The information gathered from a test must fit into the picture of the whole child's life, background, family dynamics, learning and schooling history, motivation, health history, and a thousand other variables.
Anyone who takes the simplistic view that a test provides an answer that can be used to definitively unlock the riddle of a child's learning problems is seriously mistaken.
What is Intelligence?
Arguments about the nature of human intelligence and what comprise it are centuries old. We have looked at one particular psychological test that is based on a model of intelligence that conceives it as a combination of verbal and non-verbal skills.
This model feeds into the common-held understanding that being intelligent means you will 'be good at reading and maths, you will perform well in comprehensive examinations and you will necessarily perform well in school and get into the university program of your choice'.
This is obviously a narrow model and a dangerous assumption – it's one that is being challenged vigorously from many fronts today.