My child’s school has asked for a psycho-educational assessment as a part of his enrolment criteria… What exactly is that?

By Lenka Matuska, Registered Provisional Psychologist, M.C., Dipl. Psych.


That is a question that we get asked a lot at Insight. Many charter and private schools ask for this assessment. Teachers who are concerned about behavior or grades may ask for one as well. A psycho-educational assessment is a series of tests, observations and history taking about your child that when compiled helps family and teachers understand how the child learns and processes information.

The role of the assessment in your child’s school varies. Some schools want to assure themselves that your child has the capacity to keep pace in their environment, while others may want to assess your child for any concerns they or you may have. Whatever the reason it does help us understand a student’s strengths and weaknesses so that parents and school can develop a plan to help the child succeed in the classroom.

Usually there are two major tests, one that measure cognitive ability or intelligence. The second test is academic to see your child’s reading, oral, math and writing skills. There are tests that are specific for preschool children and ones for 6-17 years and then 17-90.

The process takes anywhere from 6-12 hours depending on the amount of tests and your child. It starts with a parent consult/ interview. This determines what the need is and what concerns the parents have. Depending on the age of the child, the psychologist may interview them as well. Next is the actual testing. Normally the tests are done in stages of one or two hour chunks, again depending on the child’s attention span, age etc.

The psychologist then takes all the data and observations and using various scoring techniques is able to complete the assessment, present the findings and recommend various interventions or accommodations that can assist your child to have the most beneficial learning environment for their needs.

Ultimately, the goal of the psycho-educational assessment is to identify for your child areas of strength and weakness cognitively and academically. By using all of the information gained over the course of the assessment the psychologist can provide your child, with a clear picture of abilities and needs. The psychologist will compile her findings into a report, and will discuss all findings, diagnoses and recommendations with the family at the end of the assessment process. Referrals to other services may be made as appropriate, such as to occupational therapy for fine motor concerns or to speech-language pathology for communication difficulties.