Educational Assessments for Children, Youth and Adolescents

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January 28, 2021 / By thadmin2

What are educational assessments?

An educational assessment refers to the administration and interpretation of tests which measures a child’s academic abilities in diverse areas. Educational assessments can range from measuring one’s intellectual and cognitive abilities to any other academic-related attributes that influence the educational performance of the child (Bowles et al., 2016). These assessments often aim to measure the child’s aptitude in several academic areas such as reading, mathematics, writing and oral language.

 

What are educational assessments used for?

The function of an educational assessment is to collate information on the educational or psychosocial well-being and attainment of the child. Educational assessment can help identify a child who is gifted in a specific area or a child who has a learning disability and thus requires special assistance in learning. Cognitive assessment is usually complemented with behavioural assessment to create a holistic educational assessment report for the child. Through a comprehensive understanding of the child’s cognitive and behavioural strengths and weaknesses, parents and teachers would then be able to provide appropriate interventions that are specifically tailored to the strengths and weaknesses of the child, thereby helping them to unlock and achieve their fullest potential.

Therefore, educational assessment is often pertinent in the following aspects:

  • Determine the academic aptitude of the child in specific areas: Educational assessment provides a holistic understanding of the child’s academic abilities, which can thus inform parents and teachers on strategies and interventions to assist the child in learning. This includes the selection of specific schools or making adjustments in the classroom setting to better support the child’s learning.
  • Diagnosis of learning disorders: Educational assessment provides an overview of a child’s learning difficulty and measures if the child has a learning disability. Through assessing the child’s learning difficulties, special arrangements can be made in formal educational settings such as allowing for extra time during school examinations etc. Moreover, understanding the child’s learning difficulty would also allow parents and teachers to collaborate and work hand-in-hand to develop a child’s potential based on their strengths, and also devise strategies to overcome their weaknesses.
  • Assist teachers and counselors in developing Individualized Educational Plans (IEPs) and Individualized Behavioral Plans (IBPs): Educational assessment also provides insight into a child’s specific cognitive and behavioural strengths and weaknesses to assist teachers in formulating educational and behavioural plans that are more individualized and tailored to the child’s needs. Through a more holistic understanding of the child’s learning potential, teachers can also adjust their teaching style to better suit the child.

 

Intellectual assessments

Notably, one key aspect of an educational assessment is intellectual assessment. Intellectual assessment refers to the tests which measure a child’s intellectual and cognitive abilities.

 

  • Intellectual abilities

Intellectual assessment provides an objective measure of a child’s overall level of intelligence, which is otherwise known as IQ (intelligence quotient). The most common measure of intellectual ability involves standardized, norm-referenced intelligence tests. These tests give a cumulative total score, which is set at an average of 100. A higher score generally indicates a higher level of intellectual functioning. Knowing one’s IQ can be useful as it provides a platform to understand the child’s general intellectual aptitude as compared to their peers. It is critical to note that this cumulative score only indicates a child’s general intellectual functioning and does not provide any additional insight into the specific intellectual strengths and weaknesses of the child. Therefore, it is pertinent to consider other facets of the child’s academic and cognitive abilities, which most intellectual assessments typically measure in the form of subtests.

 

  • Cognitive abilities

Cognitive abilities refer to the different components of an individual’s general intelligence such as working memory, processing speed and nonverbal ability etc. Given that intelligence is an amalgamation of diverse abilities, measuring one’s ability in several cognitive areas can shed insight on why some children may perform well in specific areas but poorly in others.

 

  • What are intellectual assessments used for?

In general, an intellectual assessment allows one to gain a holistic understanding of the child’s intellectual strengths and weaknesses. In doing so, the clinical psychologist or teacher can then evaluate if the child is reaching their learning potential. In conjunction with other assessments, intellectual assessment can also be used to diagnose specific learning difficulties. Moreover, intellectual assessment can also shed insight on the concentration and attention span of the child through the measure of their cognitive abilities. Some of the well-established intellectual assessments are: Stanford Binet IQ Assessment, Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) and Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children (KABC)

    • Stanford Binet IQ Assessment: One of the most common and reliable standardized clinical instruments currently used in education to measure intelligence for individuals aged 2 years to 85 years. This assessment measures intelligence through five components: Knowledge, Fluid Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Visuo-Spatial Processing and Working Memory
    • Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC): Another common clinical instrument used to measure the general cognitive thinking and reasoning skills of children aged 6 years to 16 years. It is often administered to identify learning disability or giftedness, enrolment into special programs or the need for clinical intervention. The scale includes a comprehensive measure of overall intellectual ability, otherwise known as an IQ score as well as scores for five cognitive domains: Verbal Comprehension, Fluid Reasoning, Working Memory, Processing Speed and Visual Spatial. In addition, this scale also consists of five supplementary domains: Quantitative Reasoning, Auditory Working Memory, Non-Verbal, General Ability and Cognitive Proficiency. These supplementary domains help provide additional insight into the child’s intellectual ability and performance. 
    • Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children (KABC): This assessment measures the cognitive ability of children aged 2.5 – 12.5 years. It is a culturally fair ability test and is often a suitable measure for assessing cognitive abilities across diverse cultural groups. This clinical instrument consists of five scales: Sequential Processing, Simultaneous Processing, Learning, Planning and Knowledge.


Behavioral assessments

Other than intellectual assessment, behavioral assessments in education settings help measure a child’s behavior through the implementation of strategies such as observation or clinical interviews. After identifying a child’s behavior – adaptive and maladaptive, the psychologist can then decide if the child’s behavior falls under a specific disorder and also informs the specific interventions that would help to manage these behaviors. One notable behavioural assessment that is commonly used is the Adaptive Behavior Assessment System (ABAS):

  •  Adaptive Behavior Assessment System (ABAS): This clinical instrument measures a range of adaptive skills. ABAS-3 consists of three adaptive domains – Conceptual, Social and Practical. Within these domains, it measures 11 adaptive skill areas: Community Use, Functional Academics, Health and Safety, Communication, Home or School Living, Leisure, Self-Care, Self-Direction, Social, Work and Motor.

 

  • What is the Adaptive Behavior Assessment System used for?

In assessing adaptive skills, the Adaptive Behavior Assessment System is often used to diagnose individuals with mental conditions such as developmental delays, learning or intellectual disabilities or autism spectrum disorders. Moreover, this clinical instrument also helps identify the strengths and weaknesses of the individual. In doing so, one can then develop appropriate and individualized treatment goals and interventions.

If you suspect that your child may be coping with a mental health issue, do not hesitate to seek help. Here at Thrive Psychology clinic, we provide formal screening and comprehensive assessments for a wide range of disorders. Our Psychologist and Therapists will work with your child to help them complete a comprehensive assessment in a safe and comfortable environment, without the pressures that can often come along with taking an assessment. Our goal is to gain an accurate read on your child’s experiences so that we can put together a comprehensive treatment plan that targets their unique needs. We are committed to helping children and adolescents thrive. If you would like to find out more about our comprehensive assessments or would like to arrange for a consultation, do contact us and we would be happy to assist you! 

 

References:

Adaptive Behaviour Assessment System (ABAS-II): The Quirky Kid. (2018, October 07). 

Retrieved January 26, 2021, from https://childpsychologist.com.au/service/assessments/developmental-assessments/abas-ii-adaptive-behaviour-assessment system/#:~:text=The%20Adaptive%20Behaviour%20Assessment%20System,to%2089%20years%20of%20age.&text=Leisure%3A%20skills%20needed%20for%20engaging%20in%20and%20planning%20leisure%20and%20recreational%20activities

APA Dictionary of Psychology. (n.d.). Retrieved January 26, 2021, from https://dictionary.apa.org/behavioral-assessment

Bowles, T., Scull, J., Hattie, J., & Clinton, J. M. (2016). Conducting psychological assessments in schools: Adapting for converging skills and expanding knowledge. Issues in Educational Research, 26(1). doi:https://www.researchgate.net/publication/299470048_Conducting_psychological_assessments_in_schools_Adapting_for_converging_skills_and_expanding_knowledge

Educational Assessment in Children: The Quirky Kid. (2018, October 07). Retrieved January 26, 2021, from https://childpsychologist.com.au/service/assessments/educational-= assessment/#:~:text=Educational%20assessments%20measure%20a%20child’s,expression%2C%20mathematics%20and%20maths%20fluency

Educational Psychology Assessment. (n.d.). Retrieved January 26, 2021, from  https://www.lanc.org.uk/educational-psychology-assessment-adhd-asd/

Oritz, S. O., Lella, S. A., & Canter, A. (2004). Intellectual Ability and Assessment: A Primer for Parents and Educators. National Association of School Psychologists. Take a free, online Stanford-Binet test! (n.d.). Retrieved January 26, 2021, from  https://stanfordbinettest.com/

Tslat. (n.d.). Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children – Second Edition (KABC-II). Retrieved January 26, 2021, from https://txautism.net/evaluations/kaufman-assessment-battery-for-children-second-edition-kabc-ii

Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (IQ Test): The Quirky Kid. (2018, October 07). Retrieved January 26, 2021, from https://childpsychologist.com.au/service/assessments/cognitive-assessments-iq-testing/wisc-iv-iq-test/