Educational Assessments: How the process and report help your child succeed

Getting an educational assessment for your child can be an overwhelming process, but one that can provide valuable information in order to support your child’s learning and development.

In my previous articles, Educational Assessments Adelaide: What your child’s IQ score really means and Understanding Educational Assessments part 2: academic testing I described the kinds of results you might receive in an educational assessment report. Now we will look at what I consider the most important part of the process: how this information can be applied in order to get the best practical outcomes to help your child succeed.

After an educational assessment, you will have a comprehensive report detailing your child’s cognitive skills, strengths and challenges, as well as their current achievements and limitations in academic areas such as mathematics, spelling, reading fluency, reading comprehension and often other measures.

This clearly establishes where your child’s learning is currently, and can indicate where (and how) their development can be encouraged for success at school.

Personalising your child’s learning

The Australian Curriculum, which all Australian schools are required to adopt, has a big focus on personalising learning for all students. This is known as differentiation.

Teachers can differentiate learning in a number of ways, according to their students’ learning readiness, learning profile, interests, and language proficiency.

I will demonstrate how information from an educational assessment can assist teachers personalise learning for your child according to each of these aspects of their profile.

Learning readiness

An important person in the foundations of learning theory was psychologist Lev Vygotsky. He coined the term “Zone of Proximal Development” to describe the place a child is best able to extend their knowledge and learn new skills; it is the area of learning just outside what a child can do independently.

In order to build on these already-achieved skills, a child needs a capable adult to guide them through until they are able to do it themselves. This is known as ‘scaffolding’.

In order to know where that ‘zone’ exists for each child, we need to know where their skills, abilities and achievements currently sit. And an educational assessment report fills that exact purpose.

For instance, in order to be ready to learn algebra, a child must have an understanding of multiplication tables. Without that skill, the child will find it extremely difficult to grasp the concepts of algebra. If an educational assessment reveals that your child has gaps in this knowledge, then the mathematics teacher can provide scaffolding  such as a visual chart of multiplication tables that your child can refer to in order to support their learning of a new concept (while also providing plenty of opportunity and practice to learn their times tables!).

Learning profile

Differentiation on the basis of students’ learning profiles means that each child’s preferred ways of learning, their strengths and limitations are taken into account in the classroom.

Teachers might:

Allow students a choice of how they present their knowledge and ideas, such as choosing between a written response, a visual model or an oral presentation
Present new information in a range of different formats, such as texts at different levels of literacy achievement, videos, physical models or demonstrations

For instance, if your child’s educational assessment indicates that she has well developed nonverbal skills and her verbal abilities are not as well developed, a teacher could address this by allowing her to present her ideas in a visual format rather than a written one.

Language proficiency

A child’s ability to access learning in the classroom will also depend on their competency in the English language, both spoken and written. If a child is not fluent in spoken English, obviously the curriculum needs to be adjusted for their level of understanding.

This same principle applies to competency in reading and writing. An educational assessment will provide a clear picture of your child’s skill level in literacy, with a comparison to other children of the same age. This information can be used by the teacher to set class work at an appropriate level to be accessible for your child while providing enough of a challenge that they are learning and extending their skills.

Interests

Teachers can also differentiate learning in the classroom according to a child’s interests. An educational assessment is not specifically designed to measure your child’s interests and hobbies, but it is always an area I explore.

All children have strengths in something, and often it is related to a topic or area in which they are interested and engaged. I’ve worked with young children who have significant challenges in literacy and numeracy but are able to calculate the total of goals and points of AFL games or recite the numbers and statistics of their favourite players. Harnessing these passions can be extremely useful motivators to encourage children’s learning development.

The real benefits that help your child to succeed at school

As you can see, the report that you receive from an educational assessment can provide your child’s school with invaluable information for the teachers to use in order to meet your child’s specific needs and to ensure their success at an individual level.

Please contact us if you would like further information about the assessment process.

Rebecca Rossi, Psychologist

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