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Print in PDF Educational and school psychologists are relied upon to prepare psychoeducational evaluation reports for school-age children and must occasionally also testify as expert witnesses in educational due process proceedings.
Due process hearings by their very nature are at times argumentative and contentious. The psychologist who is familiar with the law knows that using the word "best" is often the "kiss of death" in special education due process litigation.
Educational and school psychologists who testify at due process hearings are in a unique position to provide the hearing officer with critical information to determine an appropriate program and placement for the student.
What follows are best-practice guidelines for writing psychoeducational evaluation reports. The Role of the Psychologist Expert School districts and parents need objective evaluations based upon reliable and valid test measures, administered and interpreted by expert psychologists and educators.
School psychologists and privately employed psychologists should be trained to conduct systematic, behavioral observations in the classroom and other environments. The American Psychological Association and the National Association of School Psychologists have published standards for school certified and private practice psychologists which govern the use and interpretation of psychological and educational tests.
Reasons for Referral, History and Observations This section of the report describes why the child was referred for testing, the problems the child is having, and the purposes of the evaluation.
The next portion of the report will include the child's history and background information. A psychoeducational evaluation is essentially a "snapshot in time" in that it represents an appraisal of the child's current functioning against the backdrop of the child's past.
Therefore, the psychologist needs to obtain a thorough history of the child and include all relevant historical information within the report. Research shows that various adverse prenatal and perinatal factors may predispose children to subsequent learning problems.
The evaluation report should include: Historical information should also include data regarding the development of fine and gross motor skills; demonstration of facility in speech and language functions; ability to interact, play and socialize with peers; and the timeline for accomplishment of developmental milestones.
The historical section should also include a complete review of the child's educational history, beginning with preschool educational experiences and concluding with the child's present educational placement.
It is critical that the psychologist obtain a complete educational record for the child, including all report cards, anecdotal records, standardized test results, teacher and parent observations, and the results of prior evaluations. Whenever possible, psychologists should seek to obtain actual test scores, not just written summaries from previously completed evaluations.
The historical section of the report should take the reader from the beginning of the child's life and leave the reader right at the point where the evaluation begins. The report should include observational data from teachers, parents and other professionals who have had opportunities to interact with the child over time.
For the child with prior evaluations, the psychologist should pay particular attention to previous test data. It is not unusual for children who receive appropriate educational programs to demonstrate growth on standardized academic achievement tests and on measures of cognitive functioning.
In contrast, it is not unusual for children who have received inappropriate educational programs to demonstrate classic "Matthew effects" in their learning i.
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